WORDS Victor M. Melendez PHOTOGRAPHY Elana McDermott
According to the Aztecs, we are living in the fifth and final age of time. It is from this legend of the Fifth Sun that the musical group Kinto Sol derives its name. They are Skribe, DJ Paycheck, and El Chivo, three brothers who are proud to call themselves sons of the Mexica. Their music is both an outlet for their creativity and a medium for spreading positive messages for their people. Kinto Sol obviously likes to entertain its fans, but it’s also on a mission to open people’s minds with their unique style of Chicano rap. We interrupted the group’s busy day to speak with Skribe about the last happenings of Kinto Sol.
I know you guys were born in Mexico, did you listen to a lot of traditional Mexican music growing up, like mariachi?
We grew up pretty much listening to what our parents listened to: musica ranchera, Vincente Fernandez, Cuco Sanchez, and we even go way back to Los Panchos.
At what age did you come to the States?
We all came here at different ages. I came when I was 13, one of my brothers was 10 and the other was 8.
How did you get into rap music?
First we started DJing, then we started taking things to the next level. When we started producing music for other rappers, we started getting the itch to rap. We started doing it in Spanish because Spanish is our first language.
Who were your favorite rappers growing up?
I had a few. One of my favorites was Cypress Hill. I like some of KRS-One’s stuff. There’s a bunch of other rappers that I grew up listening to, but they are still underground.
What do you think of reggaeton?
Reggaeton is…like if hip-hop is a tree, then reggaeton is a branch. I guess it is like more dance than hip-hop.
How would you describe your sound?
What we do is mostly raw hip-hop. We call ourselves like the diary of society. It is just the way we see the world and the way our people live—that is what we give to the people who listen to Kinto Sol. Every time we do a song, we try to make the music as real as possible.
Do you feel Latino rappers get respect from black rappers or credit for being “real?”
Some people consider being real, being dumb. You know, like, “I’m real; I’ll go and shoot anybody.” Being real is speaking from the heart, about what and who you are. English rappers respect us because they hear our struggle and they hear that we are not trying to be nobody else, we are just trying to be ourselves.
So which word do you prefer, Latino or Hispanic?
I prefer Mexican, because Latinos all come from different countries. It’s okay to say Latino but it’s got to be more than that. We have been in places where people say, “We are going to welcome the Italian community, the Polish community, and then all the Latinos.” It’s like they grab us all and throw us in one bag. I would like for people to identify us by country, you know, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, because everybody has their own culture. We’re not trying to separate anybody; we just would like it that your own culture doesn’t get forgotten. Later on, Latino kids won’t even know what their culture is; it will be like, “What are you?” The answer will be, “Latino and uh…”
What do you hope to accomplish with your career?
We are going to keep doing music until we are satisfied. We have never done it for money or fame; the reality is that if you are not happy with what you are doing, you are wasting your time.
Are your shows very diverse or mostly Hispanic?
They are diverse. If they know Spanish and they like hip-hop, then they can enjoy the show. The energy is there and music is universal. We have a lot of people who don’t know Spanish but still come to our shows and they like it.
What was the best advice that you’ve gotten on your career to this point?
Don’t get frustrated. Because we know that a lot of times radio and television is all payola. It’s not a secret. You see people out there for the wrong reasons. Your regular customer will eat anything that is on radio or TV. There are a lot of artists that don’t get the same exposure and that is frustrating. The music industry is really a business, it’s not about talent; it’s business. Since we are not doing it for money, we don’t let it frustrate us. If it is meant to be, it is meant to be. We do it because we love doing it.
Kinto Sol is a really interesting name for the group, why did you choose that name?
In the hip-hop genre, hip-hop is always about battles. It has always been like that. Kinto Sol, within itself is a battle. The theory behind it says that this is the last sun we live in and after it there are no others. That is our way of telling other rappers that there will never be anyone like Kinto Sol. Time is going by really fast right now, everyone is growing up fast. Each day we get closer to the final sun.
On a lighter note, which city do you think has the hottest ladies?
That’s a hard one. Everywhere the ladies are pretty hot. It all depends on what you’re looking for. If you come to my city, you’ll say, “Whoa, you’ve got the hottest girls,” but if I go to your city, I might say the same thing.
Do you all have some good groupie stories from the shows?
Honestly, there have been a few but I wouldn’t call them groupies, I would say they are fans that are really down with the group. I think since our music doesn’t get radio and TV exposure, people who are really into Kinto Sol appreciate the letras. We have a lot of fans, but not “crazy” groupies.