Born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico, Gina Madrid, aka Raw-G, learned English by translating hip-hop lyrics from Public Enemy, The Fugees and Tupac from English to Spanish. "I didn’t know what they were saying, but something about the music, the way they were expressing themselves, resonated with me. I wanted to know, so when I translated it, I realized they were rapping in English what I was writing poems about in Spanish," the 32-year-old poet-turned-rapper told Latina.
Today, Madrid, who moved to the U.S. in 1999 to give her son, Hugo, a better life, is an Oakland-based rapper and promoter producing music not unlike her earliest influencers. The rapera, a founding member of Guadalajara’s all-women pioneering hip-hop crews, Mujeres Trabajando, tackles topics of state violence, immigration, racism and sexism, among other socially conscious issues and raw experiences relevant to Guadalajara and west-central California.
With her new EP, titled Esperanza, out, Madrid talked with Latina about being a Latina in hip-hop, why she raps on social justice issues and her message to mujeres hoping to make it in male-dominated fields.
When did you first get into hip-hop?
I started in Mexico. At 12, I was writing poetry, mostly about the political issues that were surrounding me. By 15, I migrated from poems to raps, with my biggest influence being La Otra EscoriaI, a local group. When I started, I didn’t know hip-hop was a culture or a movement; I was just passionate about it. I clearly wasn’t the person that "belonged," but hip-hop made me realize it was good to be different. It allowed me speak my mind in a creative way.
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