‘These stories have to be told’

Chicano rap as historical source


  • Dianne Violeta Mausfeld University of Bern, Switzerland Author




Hip-hop, Chicano Rap, Los Angeles, Mexican American


In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Los Angeles gave rise to Chicano rap, a subgenre of gangster rap that uniquely incorporated transcultural signifiers of music and language. Key characteristics included ‘oldie’ and Chicano rock samples, multilingual lyrics and the proclamation of Brown pride. The lyrics treated gang violence, police brutality and daily life in the varrio (’hood), thus articulating the artists’ alienation from white America. While strongly identifying with both LA and their Mexican heritage, artists like (Kid) Frost created a brand-new music style that inspired a whole generation of bilingual rappers. Considering Chicano rap as historical source provides a deeper understanding of the issues Mexican-American youth in the US have been facing up to the present day. On the basis of (Kid) Frost’s music this article will trace cultural and social topics as well as musical features that mirror the resurfacing of Chicano consciousness and identity during the 1990s


Author Biography

  • Dianne Violeta Mausfeld, University of Bern, Switzerland

    Dianne Violeta Mausfeld is a doctoral student at the University of Bern, Switzerland. Her PhD thesis is part of the research project ‘Hip-Hop as a Transcultural Phenomenon: Jamaican and Latin American Cultural Signifiers in US Hip-Hop (New York and Los Angeles, c. 1970s–1990s)’ at the Department of Iberian and Latin American History and Institute of Musicology, funded by the Swiss National Foundation. This article is a first result of her research and fieldwork carried out in 2019, also funded by the Swiss National Foundation.


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How to Cite

Mausfeld, D. V. (2020). ‘These stories have to be told’: Chicano rap as historical source. Popular Music History, 12(2), 174–193. https://doi.org/10.1558/pomh.39209