Doing whatever feels right in the moment is often easier said than done.
However, for the better part of the last decade, Oaklands Los Rakas has been doing just that, turning heads with its unique mélange hip-hop, plena, soul, reggae and dancehall of music that bounces between Spanish and English lyricism.
Featuring cousins Raka Rich and Raka Dun, the bilingual rap and reggae duo was recently named as one of the first Latin artists alongside 3BallMT to join the Honda Civic Tour, which will be on the road for the next month.
Its good, man, our first tour was with underground hip-hop artists that got us a following, Panama native Dun told VOXXI. Then our second tour was with Collie Buddz, so this is our first Latin tour and we really happy about that. Were going right in front of our people.
Those people will be hearing material from the groups Universal Latino debut, El Negrito Dun Dun & Ricardo. The all-Spanish effort was released earlier this year and hit No. 1 on the iTunes Latin Urban chart.
Dun said he views Los Rakas as a collaboration effort similar to that of Outkast, where André 3000 and Big Boi are responsible for their own material to make up album releases.
For instance, Rich, who was born in the states, speaks to more of the party and club scene with his material, while Dun delves into socially conscious territory that taps into his own story.
Specifically, he explores what its like being a Latino in America dealing with immigrations issues on El Negrito Dun Dun & Ricardo singles such as Mi Pais, Sueño Americano and Chica de Mi Corazon.
The accompanying videos were used as a powerful vehicle to detail the realities of the immigrant experience in America based on growing up in Oakland. Another reason the group has gained so much attention with the Latino audience stateside is its empowering message, which begins with the groups name.
Originally taken from the Panamanian word Rakataka, a negative slur used to describe someone from the ghetto, Los Rakas is determined to turn the pejorative into a source of pride.
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Im always proud of being from Panama, Dun said. I see a lot of Latinos that werent proud of being who they were just because maybe they were shy, maybe they went to a school where nobody spoke Spanish or they were made fun of. So our name Raka is somebody who is proud of who they are and where they come from.
Thats anybody white, black, Asian, rich or poor. We all are self conscious about something, so what we preach is for you to be proud of who you are.
Up next for Los Rakas is its new single “Asi Me Gusta” with a video directed by the Perez Bros. In fact, Dun said the outfit is already looking ahead to its next album, which may surprise audiences.
We do whatever the beat tells us to do, Dun said. We have a lot of English tracks we did over the last seven years. Its not like we dont think about it. I feel like once we start thinking about it, well lose the feeling. Thats why we have to do whatever feels right at the moment.