Exclusive: Malverde Opens Up to Latina.Com

Malverde, a West Coast based hip-hop artist has been making quite a ruckus these days. Although he’s been on the scene for more than 10 years his latest album La Leyenda Continua is sure to make him a star. His stock is rising with a recent appearance on MiTRL and a new Sucker Free Latino Throwback show in the works. He’s also been selected as the latest Descubre y Download artist. So check out what this man has to say about his mami, the legacy of his name and the immigration controversy.

If you had to pick your favorite song on the album which one would it be?

Madrecita is by far the one that chokes me up. For me it was about her experience; when she was 3 years old her mother died and my grandfather basically gambled and drank the farm away. She came here legally at the age of 14 to pick grapes through this program that the US had worked out with Mexico in the 1960’s called the Bracero Program. It was just my Tata (grandfather), my mom and her sister so there she was, still a girl working in 120 degree weather. To have raised me and positively guided me to bigger and better things...The first time I played it for her she balled and I got satisfaction from seeing her cry tears of joy. 

How did you pick the name Malverde?

Malverde is a legend deeply rooted in Mexican culture; there is actually a shrine in Culiacán, Sinaloa where the legend originates from. Malverde was a Robin Hood figure, but there is no historical documentation that he really existed so some people think he is a culmination of different bandidos. In the rap game, cats go for the Gotti’s and the Escobar’s- historic, famous and infamous figures. In my case, I really wanted to represent what my Tata instilled in me with the dichos, the proverbs, the sayings; I actually use them a lot in my lyrics. He really gave me a sense of honor and respect, what he thought were the qualities of un hombre hecho y derecho. I think now that I’ve lived a little and made it out of that environment, I really feel pride in representing the type of man my mother and my Tata would want me to be. Not just cause of the legend itself but being un hijo del pueblo, a man of the people, and representing my culture. 

Do you feel like as an artist you have had to compromise yourself?

Well, it’s kind of like an uphill battle. My label has a bunch of Latinos but I’m really the first West Coast, Mexican Hip-hop so it’s been kind of like a double edged sword because they don’t really understand the hip-hop side of it. They were encouraging me to jump on reggaeton and I had to refuse. Don’t get me wrong! I have the greatest respect, I mean Don Omar and Wisin y Yandel are cool and we’re supposed to be working on some stuff together but I’ll leave the reggaeton to the reggaeton cats. Reggaeton is catchy and has had commercial success- that’s the reason I’m signed to Machete…that’s why Machete is even in existence! So I feel blessed and grateful that this opportunity came. Like they say, luck is when preparation and opportunity meet.

What do you think your responsibility is as an artist?

Well, I think that being an artist affords you a platform to impact a lot of people. Through the music I am sending out positive messages, I’m sharing my experiences being first generation Mexicano coming where I came from, getting to where I am up to up to this point. I think it’s showing that with faith with perseverance, con fe y ganas puedes alcanzar al cualquier cosa, nada es imposible. I feel that I have that social responsibility and accountability to use that platform to take part in different things. I’m involved with VotoLatino.Org, as part of their artist coalition, we’ve done a lot of things with them and we’re planning bigger things as we get closer to the election.

I also did an immigration forum with MTV3; and one thing that it really taught me was that so many people are really ignorant. Ignorance isn’t stupidity; it’s just a lack of information. I was talking to this Minuteman who thinks immigration is all about drug cartels and people taking away jobs, so he joined this group of men patrolling the border. I did my research and I got to throw some information his way and by the end he I feel like we had affected him. You can’t blame the poor soul who's risking life and limb to try get here for better education and opportunity. I got a primo in Mexicali (right across the Mexican border) who’s a civil engineer; university educated working for an American multi-national company.  My cousin makes like $120 a week and that’s a skilled worker, so you can imagine what an unskilled worker would make. Yet we wonder why people are crossing the border. That’s a very important issue for me and so it was encouraging to be able to share my point of view.