Rap, in Spanish, easily crosses borders with fans in the United States, Canada and throughout Latin America. One of the most popular independent rappers in Spanish is Aldo Villegas, also known as Bocafloja (which means “loose mouth”). Bocafloja has been active in Mexico City’s hip hop scene since its inception in the mid-1990s and, as Mary Stucky reports, over the years he’s acquired a huge following in both Mexico and the United States.
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Stucky: When he started out, Bocafloja says he wasn’t particularly interested in politics or social change – which are now constants in his music.
In the beginning, he just liked the beat.
Bocafloja: The first time I wrote a rhyme, I was probably like around 13, 14 years old and my first demos were made when I was 17, 18 years old. So when I was like 19 or 20 I started to travel a little bit, to be more aware about the social and political issues in the world.
Stucky: That’s when Bocafloja started including sharp political and social messages — against racism, oppression and economic inequality.
This single is called Opcion B or Option B. The lyrics translate: decolonize your soul, recognize your power, open your eyes.
Bocafloja: We were the first in Mexico and one of the first in Latin America to use hip hop in a different way. We’re trying to forget about barriers and frontiers and we want
to build and connect with different artists all over the hemisphere.
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Stucky: This month Bocafloja will release a compilation album featuring artists and producers from across North, and South America and the Caribbean – including the United States.
Bocafloja: The main objective is to produce a cultural exchange between the different marginalized communities, using hip hop culture as a way to communicate and create and produce art and share knowledge.
Stucky: These days Bocafloja spends a lot of time in the United States, where his reputation is growing. He founded an artistic collective that organizes concerts, spoken word events and community dialogues in New York and California as well as in Mexico. He’s also published a collection of poems — one of the first literary books from Mexico’s hip hop generation.
Bocafloja: With the book, it was important to let people know, especially here in Mexico, that some of the poets from the hip hop generation were able to be at a certain academic level. Also it was a way to motivate young kids, from the barrios, from the ghettos, to be more familiar with reading, with lecture.
Stucky: His fans did seem motivated at Bocafloja’s recent concert in Mexico City where they mobbed him for autographs. But despite his wide popularity, Bocafloja says he’s always conscious of hip hop’s roots among the poor and marginalized.
For the World, I’m Mary Stucky, Mexico City.
Chris Wilson contributed to this report.