Mexican-American rapper Mexia Hernández says he wants to be the voice of first-generation Latinos born in the United States. That's bold, but Hernández isn't some nobody: his father is Hernán Hernández, frontman of the legendary norteÃ±o band Los Tigres Del Norte, which has had a huge following in the US and Mexico since the 1960s.
Hernández and his younger brother Raul, working as Raul y Mexia, have just released their first album. Arriba y Lejos (Up and Away) is an eclectic mix of reggaetón, cumbia, hip-hop, even a bit of norteÃ±o. But when the boys were growing up and trying to fit in, the old man's style was a little embarrassing. "Our dad would come home, wearing cowboy boots, the silk shirt buttoned down to the midsection, the gold chain ... and he's playing the accordion," remembers Raul. "And I'd be like, man, again? I just want to go to my room and listen to some Michael Jackson."
The Hernández brothers led separate musical lives until collaborating on 2010's "Todos Somos Arizona," a hip-hop anthem in support of Latino immigrants. (Native Northern Californians, they hold dual citizenship.) But the new record is more party than politics, says Mexia. "Music is an escape for some people. We're just like any other Latino in the US who wants to forget about the situation for a while and just relax."
Bonus Track: "Solo Para Ti"
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