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Mexiclan "Mexiclanos Unidos" Album Review

Release date: 2/15/05 - Univision Records/Fonovisa

Review by Compay for LatinRapper.com

 

Mexiclanos Unidos review

Who could argue that 2004 wasn't entirely Univision's year in the Urban Regional subgenre? There were some great contributions from labels such as Dope House (Juan Gotti) and a few other imprints, but Univision hit hardest. One of the better contributions to Urban Regional music was the sophomore album by Mexiclan entitled "Mexiclanos Unidos".


Its easy to be a bit skeptical; some may feel that the subgenre of rap which fuses traditional hip hop sounds and Latin production had been saturated with artists looking to cash in on the budding interest with urban music en Español. Yet after a few listens, its clear to see why Mexiclanos Unidos deserves its rotations from Latin radio to lowriders.

Although only 14 tracks, the album is brimming with Norteño flavored cuts that offer a diversion from some of the recycled sounds of today's rap world. First and foremost, the production on this album is what stands out and gives the LP its character. A delicate balance of funky synthesizers and accordions, rap beats seasoned with acoustic and electrical guitar riffs.

The beats easily outshine most of those found on other urban regional classics of the last year, all the more amazing considering its courtesy of a single producer (Jason Roberts, with Funkdoobiest's Mixmaster Ralph M supplying the scratches).

The second thing that grabs your attention from the jump is the vocal contributions of Sem Vargas aka Leon. Forget Eminem, 50 and Ja Rule singing their own hooks, Leon is the genuine article. Rather than the typical rapper-slash-singer role, Leon had been flexing his vocals since age six in his father's church, and the album benefits from having a trained singer. Leon shines on "El Destino", his rich voice riding a funky beat perfect for light night cruising with the windows down and your system up.

If the album falls short of being a classic, it may fall somewhat on the shoulders of Marco Antonio Munoz, aka MOCS. As the groups principal rhymespitter, MOCS sound is like horchata: its an acquired taste. Those outside of the Left Coast may be turned away by what's clearly a West-driven sound and flow, though MOCS certainly caters to listeners from Cali down to Houston. MOCS' sound comes off less forced in Spanish, much easier to vibe to, but in English the lack of lyricism detracts from an otherwise hot beat with hot backup vocals. MOCS makes his mark in "Vivir O Morir" over a blazing beat peppered with Norteño accordions, riding the production to perfection with Leon's soulful crooning backing him up.

Guest appearances on the album are slightly disappointing, with lackluster contributions by Dru-Ha and Ese Daz. The contrary is only apparent on "Al Ataque", featuring a much-needed guest appearance by Pato of Control Machete. As if already knowing Pato would destroy the track, MOCS must have made sure his flow was on point when sharing a track with the Mexican rap heavyweight; the end result is a hot track with MOCS holding his own against the veteran. Other notable guest appearances come from Fino the Game of Spanish Fly, as well as Diamonique over sick synthesized sounds; though MOCS offbeat-onbeat sound illustrates his need to develop his flow more. Wil-Dog of Ozomatli lends his vocals to "Como Le Hago", a perfect jam for the club or hooking up the carne asada at a weekend barbeque.

Put simply, Mexiclan nails it when MOCS sticks to rapping en Español. He's not as lyrical as Sinful of the Mexicanz, but most of the time his flow in Spanish comes naturally and he makes the beats work for him. Again, it boils down to taste and what you're looking for, as his sound may be exactly what they're feeling out West. As a recap, a big thumbs up to the production on the album, one can only imagine the damage that Cypress Hill or Control Machete would do with a surplus of fresh beats like this. This album wouldn't be as hot were it not for the vocal styling of Leon, through his singing he adds a new dimension to the sound of Urban Regional that was sorely needed. Though this CD may not be at the very top of your wish list, it is without a doubt a must-own for anyone who enjoys Urban Regional music and Rap en Español.

 

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