15 Musicians You Never Knew Were Latino

Most of them may not sing—or rap—in Spanish, but all of these musicians can certainly lay claim to some degree of Latin-ness. And whether they’re 1/18th Mexican, as in Fergie’s case, or half Puerto Rican like Maxwell, we’re proud to sing their praises.
 

1. 15 Musicians: Kelis

Kelis, 30:
Harlem native Kelis Jones’ biggest hit was “Milkshake” and that sort of describes her ethnic background, as well. Her father, Kenneth, is African-American and her mother, Eveliss, is Puerto Rican and Chinese. The Boricua side was especially palpable during the holidays when her family celebrated “Noche Buena”: “[We had] pernil and we always had coquito,” the singer once told Rap-Up.com.

2. 15 Musicians: Fabolous

Fabolous, 32:
Brooklyn-bred rapper John “Fabolous” Jackson “Can’t Deny It”—as his first hit single was called back in 2001—that he’s half Dominican on his father’s side. That may explain why he has so many pretty Latinas in his videos. Maybe we can find some other clues in his last album, Loso’s Way, which he describes as autobiographical.

3. 15 Musicians: Zack de la Rocha

Zack de la Rocha, 40:
Rage Against the Machine frontman Zack de la Rocha has always spoken up against racial inequality. Most recently, he led dozens of musicians to boycott Arizona as a sign of protest against the state’s controversial immigration law SB 1070. The rapper must have inherited that fighting spirit from his grandfather, a Sinaloan revolutionary who fought in the Mexican Revolution.

4. 15 Musicians: Maxwell

Maxwell, 37:
It’s quite possible R&B crooner Maxwell (born Gerald Maxwell Rivera) owes some of his silky smooth style to being half Boricua. Just don’t try to put him in a box:  “I’m really multicultural,” he told Time magazine in February. “My mom is from Haiti. My dad’s from Puerto Rico. I was born in Brooklyn. I read Proust. Your heritage is your heritage, but your soul is truly who you are.” And we know he has plenty of soul!

5. 15 Musicians: Fergie

Fergie, 35:
Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie may just be 1/18th Mexican but we’re claiming her as one of us. How could we not? In 2008, she broke down her roots for Latina.com: “My dad’s grandmother is from Guanjauanto. I’m very proud of it; that’s probably where I get my fire!,” said the Duchess, who also has Irish and Scottish heritage.

6. 15 Musicians: Taboo

Taboo, 35:
Taboo, of the Black Eyed Peas, has been known to yell “Viva Mexico!” during performances as a nod to his Mexican heritage. His dad is from Morelia and his mom is of Shoshone Indian descent. The rapper, whose real name is Jaime Luis Gómez, even taught himself Spanish. “My parents never spoke to me in Spanish but I love to practice,” he once said in an interview. “I learned watching [Mexican] movies with Capulina, Tin Tan, Resortes, El Chavo del Ocho. Sometimes I choke up but it’s great to know [the language].”

7. 15 Musicians: B-Real

B-Real, 40:
If you hadn’t guessed it from the song “Armada Latina,” Cypress Hill’s B-Real is as Latino as they come. The half-Mexican, half-Cuban rapper helped pave the way for other emcees bearing South of the Border credentials: “Latinos were there at the beginning of hip hop, but we don’t get the credit for that,” he told Austin Vida magazine last year. “I’d like to see as many [of] us as possible get in the game and make it.” That’s the spirit!

8. 15 Musicians: Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars, 25:
You’ve seen this Hawaii native’s boyish good looks and heard his sweet vocals on hits like B.o.B’s “Nothin’ on You” and Travie McCoy’s “Billionaire,” but did you know that he’s part Puerto Rican? Yep, Bruno Mars (born Peter Hernandez), who is usually referred to as just Filipino, is a halfsie.

9. 15 Musicians: Cassie

Cassie, 22:
R&B singer Cassie (aka Cassandra Ventura), who gave us the hit song “Me & U” back in 2006 and is currently working on her new album, draws inspiration from artists like Jennifer Lopez and La Lupe. She can definitely relate to these Latinas, at least in part: Her mom is half Mexican and half West Indian, while her dad is Filipino. “I’m a little melting pot,” she told Complex Magazine in 2008.

10. 15 Musicians: Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato, 18:
Tween queen Demi Lovato didn’t just play a Latina in the 2008 Disney movie Camp Rock (her character’s name was Mitchie Torres), but she is one, too. The Texas native was born as Demetria Devonne Lovato to a Mexican father and an Italian-Irish mother. And though she barely speaks Spanish, she does sing in the language, as evidenced by her song “Lo Que Soy.”

11. 15 Musicians: Melody Thornton

Melody Thornton, 25:
Not many folks know that former Pussycat Doll Melody Thornton is a Latina. “A lot of people are not aware that I am 50 percent Mexican-American,” she told Chilosa.com in 2007. “I embrace that part of me.” This is especially the case when it comes to Thanksgiving. “We never miss out on the tamales, tortillas and frijoles and we do all the American traditions, too,” she added.

12. 15 Musicians: Taio Cruz

Taio Cruz, 25:
Multi-talented Taio Cruz is a triple threat (singer, songwriter and producer) that can “break, break your heart,” or so he sings in his album Rokstarr. So watch out, ladies! The British artist was born in London to a Nigerian dad and a Brazilian “mum.”

13. 15 Musicians: Trina

Trina, 32:
Usually described as raw and raunchy, Miami emcee Trina has been rapping for 10 years now. And in all that time, we bet you didn’t realize she is half Dominican. That’s probably because the Latin side was never part of her upbringing. “My dad’s family is from the Dominican Republic. I don’t really know them like that; he hasn’t been a part of my life since forever,” she once told BallerStatus.net. Regardless, she made an effort to learn Spanish in high school but it didn’t stick. Fortunately, that hasn’t hurt her music career. Her latest, and fifth, album is titled Amazin’.

14. 15 Musicians: Swizz Beatz

Swizz Beatz, 29:
Did you know Alicia Keys’ new husband is Boricua? So true! Producer and rapper Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean, who has worked with everyone from Beyonce to Jay-Z, was born in the boogie down Bronx to a Jamaican father and a Puerto Rican mother. And if you consider that Keys is of Scottish, Irish, Italian and African American descent, than the couple’s baby (due in November) is going to be super multi-racial.

15. 15 Musicians: Dave Navarro

Dave Navarro, 43:
Dave Navarro is one of the orginal members of legendary alternative rock band Jane's Addiction. Although the band broke up in 1991, he is still regarded as one of the best contemporary rock guitarists. He has also played with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Guns & Roses. In the past, Navarro has spoken openly about the fact that his paternal grandfather was a Mexican immigrant. Navarro is the only member of his family on his father's side that doesn't speak Spanish—when his parents divorced when he was seven, he went to live with his American mother for the majority of his formative years.

16. 15 Musicians: Related Links