The hard-hitting beat is what grabs you first. Then you hear the smooth-yet- powerful baritone vocals attack with a distinctive tone. You recognize the voice as it commands attention with provocative lyrics over the flavorful track. The MC shifts the rhyme from English to Spanish and then back to English again, with such a seamless transition that you barely even notice the language switch. Your head was bobbing the whole way through - it didn't even matter if you couldn't understand the Spanish parts. Then it hits you, you're sure of it. The voice and trademark rhyme flow belong to none other than “The Blaxican” - Kemo, former member of Latin hip-hop pioneers Delinquent Habits, whose highly-anticipated second solo album ‘Not So Rich & Famous’ drops on May 29th 2007.
Two years after the release of his solo debut ‘Simple Plan’, Kemo the Blaxican has stepped up the game with his strongest and most musically-ambitious album to date, the self-produced ‘Not So Rich & Famous.’ The conscious bilingual rapper means business, as evidenced by the opening refrain on the powerful first track “You Know”: “Sixteen bars, three verses – forty eight in all, delivered with a purpose.” Influenced as much by the west coast funk and soul icons he grew up listening to as by hip-hop, Kemo the Blaxican is joined by Tetsuya “Weeping Willow” Nakamura (harmonica player for the legendary War) on “5th of May”; the track is a groove-heavy indictment of urban commercial radio, which has traditionally neglected Latino hip-hop artists except on Cinco de Mayo, “the day they spin some brown.”
As Delinquent Habits’ only Spanish-fluent MC, Kemo spent twelve years with the group, releasing four albums and taking the Delinquent sound beyond borders and around the world. In 1996 the group struck gold with their very first single "Tres Delinquentes", a song that masterfully fused a traditional mariachi sound (courtesy of Herb Alpert's "Lonely Bull") with the raw hip-hop backdrop of the streets. The sound was a breath of fresh air in a stale rap scene, and opened a new creative doorway into which many other Latin hip hop acts would follow.
"Tres Delinquentes" blew up almost overnight, receiving airplay not only on hip-hop radio but rock and Top 40 stations as well. The track eventually landed Delinquent Habits an appearance on NBC's ‘Late Night with Conan O'Brien’ and tours with heavyweights like Korn and Ice T. In no time, "Tres Delinquentes" became a worldwide hit, selling over 1 million copies around the globe and pushing the group’s self-titled album to nearly the same figure. This was the public’s first introduction to Kemo's lyrical skills and flawless bilingual transitions. He stepped into the hip-hop game, introduced himself as “The Blaxican,” and never looked back.
Four Delinquent Habits albums later - after countless tours around the globe including the UK, Europe, Japan, South America, Mexico and Taiwan - Kemo decided to leave the group in 2004 and embarked upon his solo career. The move allowed him to record ‘Simple Plan,’ the solo album that many DH fans had been asking of Kemo for several years. Risky but necessary, Kemo walked away having played a major role in solidifying Delinquent Habits as one of the most influential Latin hip-hop groups of all time and establishing himself as one of today’s top Latino MC's.
Kemo has always strived to keep himself on the move. In 2001, the multilingual LA rapper (of Mexican and African-American descent) recorded a song with Grammy-winning merengue queen Olga Tanon and Egyptian singer Hakim. The track fused hip-hop, merengue, and modern Middle Eastern sounds and was a mainstay on the charts from the Middle East to the Wild Wild West. On top of it all, Kemo still finds time to nurture new artists, cultivate his record label Dead Silence Records, and sell his own streetwear line Joint Clothing to hip hop and streetwear stores worldwide.
2005 saw the release of Simple Plan, Kemo's first album as a solo artist. The disc found the Blaxican taking his talent for wordplay and ability to draw a vivid picture through rhyme and attitude to new heights. With songs that are in English, Spanish and bilingual as well, Kemo’s solo album touched on several topics that have a lot more to do with real life than the superficial images saturating hip hop today. The album featured the popular single “La Receta”, which was featured prominently in the Warner Brothers movie ‘Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants’ as well as Morgan Freeman’s film ‘Ten Items or Less.’ Kemo’s solo debut also spawned “I Drink, She Smokes,” a jazz-soaked spoken word excursion that landed on the soundtrack to the acclaimed film ‘La Mujer de Mi Hermano.’
With ‘Not So Rich & Famous’, Kemo the Blaxican has shown that he is not only one of the world’s best bilingual MC’s, but also a gifted producer who is not afraid to explore genres and collaborations outside the traditional Latin hip-hop realm. The buzz is growing for Kemo the Blaxican - an MC with the heart of a lion, who repeatedly keeps his ear to the street and his work ethic to the grindstone.