Yo Si Soy, Yo Si Soy, Yo Si Soy R-R-R-R-R-R-aka/Tengo Mi Pistola Y Diente De Oro – Los Rakas
The first time I heard a Los Rakas song, it was September of 2011 when they were opening up for a Mos Def concert at the Independent in SF. It was actually the last time Mos Def would be performing in the Bay Area as Mos Def, as he is now called Yasiin Bey. This would be my second time to see Mos Def and my first, but not my last time to see Los Rakas.
The group Los Rakas, consists of two cousins (pictured with me, above): Raka Rich and Raka Dun. They are originally from Panama but now live in Oakland, Calif. They rap mostly in Spanish but sometimes also in English. Their songs fall into the “Bay Area” style of sound in my opinion. Meaning some the beats sound native to those of the Bay Area. I personally think, every region of the US has a distinct sound which can be recognized by paying attention (attention paid me…anyone?) to the beat. Anyways, the songs are upbeat, flavorful and catchy. They have so much energy and stage presence when they perform and there is a lot of Panamanian pride on stage as well as in the crowd. I always feel a huge sense of a community when I go to their shows. It feels to me like people in the crowd know each other and maybe even know Los Rakas, too.
I’ve seen them a total of three times and I’m already planning my next time. I met them once (when I took the picture with them, it was Valentine’s Day 2012 when they released “Raka Love” at 330 Ritch in SF) and the next time I saw them, in June for their performance at Club Atmosphere…they recognized me. (Sidestory: Right before the Valentine’s Day show, I posted something about them to my Facebook profile and one of my girl friends commented saying that she personally knew Raka Dun and that she wanted to go to the Valentine’s Day show with me. This could be part of the reason why they recognized me…but hey, I’ll take what I can get! Shout out to my girl, she knows who she is!) Somewhere in between, they began following me on Twitter and have retweeted and replied to me several times. I began rocking their “Soy Raka” T-Shirt on trips, airports, and concerts as support and to help promote them. I’ve even gotten some of my own “raka love” from people who understand the shirt when I wear it, it’s a good feeling. I identify and agree with their vision of what exactly it means to be “raka.”
So what is Raka? In Panama, the term “raka” means the ghetto and “rakataka” is simply a person who is from the ghetto. Both terms, however have a negative connotation to them. Los Rakas’ quest in using this term is to give the word some positive power and in turn, they give it their own meaning to “be proud of where you come from.” This empowerment is also meant to help other “rakas” around the world to understand and know that they too, can be successful no matter where they come from or what circumstances they’ve had to overcome.
Some of my favorite songs by them include: “Abrazame” uses the melody of “Hold Yuh” by Gyptian, “Africana” (this link will take you to Rap Genius: a site that translates rap lyrics and you can listen to the song at the same time — I’ll probably do a post on Rap Genius later) and “Bien Ribetiao” is an upbeat, club-type song with the title translating to “swaggin.” But really, all of their song are good and are worth a good listen.
They have performed sold out shows in Los Angeles, The San Francisco Bay Area, San Jose, Miami, and countless other cities, as they just finished touring with Collie Buddz.
They will be performing on January 12, 2013 at Slim’s in SF and you can buy tickets here. I’ll be at the show so hopefully we’ll see each other there! They also have a show on February 13, 2013 in NYC at S.O.B.s (If I only they were performing exactly one week later when I’ll be there…) Tickets are not yet on sale but as the date gets closer, check out their events calendar for more information.
Gracias por leer y buenas noches mi gente.