Warning: Songs contain explicit lyrics. Click ► symbol
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
"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
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
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.