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rapper Rico Pabon

Featured Artist - View past featured artists at the bottom of this page.

 

Name: Rico Pabón

Location: Bay Area, California

Repping: Puerto Rico

 

Myspace: www.myspace.com/ricopabon
Web: http://www.hardknockrecords.com 

 

Parental Advisory Warning: Songs contain explicit lyrics.  Click ► symbol to listen.

 

Considered by most, as the Mecca of socially conscious Hip Hop, the Bay Area is also home to legendary MC Rico Pabón. After a year in the studio, Rico is set to release his 4rd and most powerful album to date, Louder Than Fiction on revolutionary-label, Hard Knock Records this Spring.” Reflecting on the concept of the album, Rico states, “Life is louder than fiction. There wasn’t any need for me to use my imagination when writing the lyrics to this album because every word of it is true."

One major factor that distinguishes Puerto Rican rapper Rico Pabón from many of his Reggaeton and Hip Hop peers is his lifelong mission.

"Through my words and music, I seek out righteous action, raising a fist for activists and challenging oppression and injustice everywhere." This outlook may be unique in Hip Hop, but for Rico, his activism and art go together like red rice and beans.

Rico Pabón's own experiences have proven fertile ground for exploring human truths -- and for crafting diverse soundscapes. Rico's mother was 15 years old when she had him. Rico was born into a family of Salsa musicians in Queens, NY and was constantly shuttled between the East Coast and the San Francisco Bay Area. Each new home had two things in common: financial tribulations and music. He soon understood that hardship and art were two sides of the same coin.

"The most beautiful music has come out of those periods of time when we were enslaved, or our condition of living had just changed from bad to worse. Maybe it's because song is our survival during the hardest times. It's not something we do for money, fame or recognition. Music is really, truly an expression of our emotion, and pain is one of those energies that, if you don't let it out, can destroy your soul."

Rico Pabón has kept his soul intact through music as the lead member of Prophets of Rage (POR) and as MC for San Francisco Bay Area Afro-Latin Hip Hop band Agua Libre (formerly O-Maya). 1994 saw the first release from POR, No More Patience. In 1997, after the release of their sophomore offering, Brand New World, POR seemed poised for a national breakthrough. Their single, Memories, was in heavy rotation at urban radio stations around the country, including San Francisco's KMEL. Unfortunately, despite airplay and critical acclaim, national prominence eluded the group as their music was buried in the rubble of music industry restructuring.

Undeterred, Rico went solo and hooked up with Headnodic (producer of Hip Hop act Crown City Rockers) to record Rico's solo album, My Power. This album was dedicated to Puerto Rican freedom fighters and featured Puerto Rican poet Piri Thomas. In 2003, Rico's song, Yo Naci, was one of the standout tracks on the acclaimed Hard Knock Records anti-war Hip Hop compilation, What about Us? During this time, Rico also joined Afro-Latin Hip Hop band O-Maya to record their self-titled album. In 2003, O-Maya was voted Best Latin Band in the Bay Area at the SF Weekly Music Awards. Rico still performs with founding members of O-Maya in a new group called Agua Libre.

No matter which musical configuration Rico finds himself in - whether Salsa or Hip Hop -- his poetic lyrics are bound by the theme that struggle feeds beauty. This theme combined with his rhythmic delivery make him one of the Bay Area's most dynamic MCs. Rico's international flavors have allowed him an opportunity to share the stage with other international artists such as Damian and Stephen Marley, Ozomatli, Buju Banton, Femi Kuti, John Santos, Zap Mama, Meshell N'degeocello, Maxi Priest and Sizzla. Rico has also performed with Hip Hop icons such as Run DMC, Wu Tang Clan, Zion I, dead prez, Big Daddy Kane, and Kurtis Blow.

Rico is also a devoted husband, a new father, a community leader, and a business owner. Rico and his family own and operate Sofrito, Oakland's only authentic Puerto Rican restaurant. Just like his music, Rico's establishment has become an anchor in the Puerto Rican, Hip Hop, and Salsa music communities.

Louder Than Fiction is a “balanced blend of stories from different times in my life, social commentary, and reflecting on the state of Hip Hop and humanity as a whole. Of course, beats that bang throughout, but with gritty soul, the way it was back in the days”, states Rico. The album features dead prez, Zion I, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Kimiko Joy, Destani Wolf, Inti Illimani, Binghi Ghost, and Luqman Frank, among others. Production on LTF is shared by: Rico Pabon and Headnodic of Crown City Rockers, with extra instrumentation/ production by Mike “Tiger” Auberg, keyboardist for Goapele’s band.

 

 

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