Written By: Amina Ali
The New York episode of the docuseries De La Calle, hosted by Nick Barili, was recently screened as the inaugural installment of an eight-part series at the Tribeca Film Festival.
The entire docuseries is set to be broadcast on Paramount+ and MTV. This particular episode focused on the significant role of the Latin community in shaping the Hip-Hop scene in New York City.
Renowned individuals such as Fat Joe, Cardidad De La Luz, Nore, DJ Charlie Chase, Princess Nokia, and others were featured guests, engaging in enlightening conversations with Barili about the worldwide impact of Latino culture.
A key theme addressed in the episode was the media's tendency to label Afro-Latinos as "Blacks," perpetuating a cycle that undermined the recognition and credit owed to Latinos for their significant contributions.
One of the examples highlighted how the incorporation of Spanish-language rap transformed the representation of Latinos within Hip-Hop, revolutionizing their portrayal within the genre.
Through the fusion of their own cultural influences with Hip-Hop, Latinos gave rise to worldwide phenomena. The pioneers and influencers featured in the episode were unaware that they were not only shaping the history of Hip-Hop but also making significant strides for Latin culture.
The episode showcased numerous poignant moments, such as Joe Conzo's humble beginnings as a yearbook photographer, capturing his friends at school dances, and N.O.R.E. (aka Noreaga) introducing Reggaeton, or as he affectionately referred to it as "gentrified reggaeton" in the film, to America.
Their motivations stemmed from a desire to represent and celebrate their Latin heritage, not fully comprehending the impact that incorporating salsa into breakdancing or rapping in Spanish would have on not just their communities but worldwide.
Following the screening, a thought-provoking Q&A panel was held, moderated by Laura Stylez, featuring Nick Barili, Joe Conzo, Caridad De La Luz (aka La Bruja), DJ Charlie Chase, Picky Talarico, and DJ Flipstar.
Stylez expressed the significance of witnessing a multitude of proud Latinos and Latinas, who continue to inspire and forge new paths, remarking that "It's important to see the future next to you."
The panel delved into the exploitation often experienced by artists within the Hip-Hop industry, as well as the exploitation of Hip-Hop itself.
These artists, however, strayed from such pitfalls and created what De La Luz beautifully described as a "beautiful relationship—being able to express my art form authentically while remaining rooted in Hip-Hop."
Flipstar, like Stylez, was a product of the groundwork laid by Latino pioneers of Hip-Hop. He shared his experience of blending beats from Black records with a Latin crowd, thanks to the foundation established before him.
This fusion enabled him to create his own remixes. The essence of the New York episode of De La Calle was the exploration of how artists in the Latino community integrated their cultural heritage with Hip-Hop, resulting in something new that remained authentic to Hip-Hop while representing their unique identities.