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From Purple Drank to Pyramids: The Evolution of Chingo Bling
4/14/13 at 2:55 AM ET - LatinRapper.com interview by Dante

(related: Chingo Bling 1st Interview and 2nd Interview)

 

Chingo Bling 2013 interview

It's been a long, strange trip for Pedro Herrera.  When we first interviewed the Houston rapper in 2004, his responses were that of his comedic alter ego.  In the decade that followed, Chingo Bling had landed a distribution deal with Asylum, and released a number of successful parody videos and club tracks.

 

Chingo has recently dabbled in new looks, launched a clothing line, and will appear in the film "Filly Brown" with Jenni Rivera, Edward James Olmos in theaters April 19.  Chingo talks music, movies and career evolution in our new interview.

 

LatinRapper.com: What's going on with your music this year?

 

I'm dropping a selection of songs I'm proud of. My beat selection is unparalleled. Honestly bro, I feel like me and Baby Bash are the best beat pickers. Know what I mean?

 

[laughs] I know what you mean, but when you say that, I picture these two Mexicans picking up beats. Campesinos de pistas.

 

[laughs] Well there's DJ Quality out of Chicago. He's a maniac. Sometimes what I'll do is rap him something acapella, he might send something back that's cumbia crunk, or trap mixed with Tribal. He might send me some straight Hip Hop s**t with movie samples. He's a representation of the new breed of young Latinos. Our palate is so broad, so much culturally to choose from. He's versatile. But he's a Chicago cat, he's urban, he understands the subgenres that are happening. I also jack a lot of trap beats from the internet, from Soundcloud. What I mean by trap is like Harlem Shake.

 

Right, like Hucci.

 

I just did a song called "Chicano Rap Made me do it." I did it on a hard ass trap beat. Flosstradamus, actually. They don't know that I borrowed their beat. But hopefully the track makes noise, and they'll find out, and hit me up. It happened with this other guy from the Netherlands. It somehow came to his attention. He's like hey man, what's up appreciate it, just give me credit. I don't mind. Most of these dudes are cool.

 

When does the mixtape drop?

 

Same day as the movie. [download at www.sendspace.com/file/0awvet ]

 

Who are the guest features?

 

I'm waiting on a verse from Dangeruss, he's from St Pete in Florida. He's actually in the film. He's kind of like the guy that looks like Riff Raff, James Franco. The director went to St Pete, and asked around for the hardest white boy out there. Everybody said 'Dangeruss puts in work.'

 

Look him up on Youtube, he's entertaining. He has a song called "My Fork." He's talking about it's an ode to his favorite crack cooking utensil. He's fast, he's witty, you can tell he's in that life. He has another song, 'Junkies at my door, they know the secret knock, one time for the reefer, two times for the rock.' The s**t aint fabricated.

 

Filly Brown starts showing in Los Angeles on April 19th. What was your involvement in the film?

 

I play Rayborn. Me and him have a thing or two in common. He's independent, a hustler, manager, jack of all trades. He's the guy that discovers Filly, and tries to school her in the game. But the story is really about a girl from the hood. Her mom, played by Jenni Rivera is a drug addict and locked up. Her dad, played by Lou Diamond Phillips, he kind of already gave up on Jenni's character. 

 

Rap game, shady characters, just life. She can do something for her mom, but that's where the whole story unfolds, from that dilemma. It's a coming of age thing. So far, Sundance and film festivals, all the reviews, all the writeups, all the people that seen it. To people that don't even know what Latin rap is, Chicano rap. Audiences filled with people that had no idea who Jenni Rivera was, crying, laughing, clapping. So far so good. It's not just a Chicano film, you don't have to be Chicano to get it.

 

Had you been going to the screenings?

 

I made it to some, it's kind of hard. They had a really big one in Miami I wish I could have made it out to, lot of friends, lot of media. I made it to the San Diego one. The cool experience was Sundance. You know that brand, it adds a lot of credibility to a film. Considering the culture that film revolves around, it's nice to have that stamp of approval at Sundance.

 

Even better, it was the talk of the town at Sundance. You have all these films from artsy stuff, to a film with Common in it, and Filly Brown is still the talk of the town. I remember riding the bus shuttles, and people would recognize us. 'Yo, you guys are from Filly right? I saw it, it's dope.'

 

How were you cast for the movie?

 

My friends Khool Aid and E-Dub, they're part of the production team that put the film together, and they also put the soundtrack out. They were responsible for suggesting Jenni Rivera, Khool Aid has a relationship with Jenni. Khool Aid reached out to me, 'Hey, I don't want to jinx it, but we're working on this thing that looks pretty promising, pretty legit. Edward James Olmos is on board, we think you'd be good for one of these roles.

 

I Skyped with the director. It's kind of an independent, low budget type film, so they didn't have a choice but to give some people shots that weren't quote unquote real actors [laughs]. I was real hungry, I wanted to do it, I wanted experience. Long story short, once everything was official and I was in L.A. to film, everybody was like 'He's one of those musicians, cut him some slack, lower the bar, he's not an actor.'

 

But my first scene was with Gina Rodriguez. She's making so much noise in Hollywood right now, people are going crazy over her talent and energy and her role in Filly. My first scene is with her. It's like playing catch with a pro. Somebody that's been playing baseball since they were young, and I'm stepping in. So we interact well, she throws something at me, I catch it. I throw something at her. It was good chemistry. If you're doing a scene with someone, it's teamwork. You got to be able to hold your own, catch the ball, and throw it back at them.

 

Everybody was like okay, nice. We're making a movie now. That gave me a lot of confidence. Lou Diamond Phillips was like yo, you're killing it. Edward James Olmos, 'you sure you never acted before?' Legends, people that paid their dudes, and had made history.  People that I looked up to. It means so much to come from them.

 

As far as unknown actors, an established director once said he preferred to cast people under the radar. That way the focus is on the story, and not that Morgan Freeman or whoever is in it.

 

That's great insight. I think it's dope what you're saying. What I try to take from that lesson, as an actor you want to be an artist that still has integrity. Brings value and credibility to a film. You keep a balance between 'oh he's really famous' and scaring away the cool projects.

 

Blockbusters are legit, don't get me wrong, that's what I want to do. But you want to still have that texture like 'his sh*t aint too loud.' Like an OG rapper, he's not known for his antics.

 

Did you get a chance to work directly with Jenni Rivera?

 

I didn't have any scenes with her. I met her at Sundance, after it was already done. But it was still cool meeting her. She's cool, she's genuine, humble.

 

Even with her fame, Jenni was known to be down for her fans, and still that same Chicana from Long Beach.

 

One thing that came up today with that interview. The lady, she had an accent, maybe Argentinian or something like that. She was like, you're telling me about this really big Latin scene, but why aren't any of these people that you mentioned out there winning Grammies, or in the mainstream? Khool Aid gave her answers. 

 

My answer was Mexican American identity.... Mexican American art, Latin Hip Hop, they're running parallel, they're evolving. It's gonna take time. Does that make sense? It's something that we're still dealing with as a group. We haven't assimilated completely. It's like a sliding ruler. Far to the right, it's whitewashed. Close to the XY axis it's straight Paisas, fresh off the boat.

 

I received a comment on Youtube, the person was like 'Chingo, we didn't see you at any of the immigration rallies, front and center, speaking for Latino rights.' I've done a lot of those in the past. It's my mission to invade pop culture. It's like Jenni having the show on ABC, for her to represent in her way, which would have been different from the George Lopez show. George Lopez, for a minute, was like our only face.

 

I'd rather attack the problems. I'd rather contribute to this thing that we've all been contributing towards. Cheech and Chong sat a brick down to help build this. Cantinflas, Don Francisco, Lil Rob, have all contributed to this thing. The rallies are cool, but I'd rather make an impact like having the Kardashians quote my lyrics on their twitter page. Where I've invaded pop culture to where I'm on their radar. Art is my weapon.

 

Do you think you'll have a bigger impact if you don't rock the boat?

 

I have earned that reputation... I'm going to be at a televised award show coming up. 'Hey man, you're not going to wear anything with a statement.' I guess I've earned that reputation. 

 

I want to be in the same vein as Basquiat, Ai Weiwei in China. Hell, even Kanye. I know my contribution is different. Some people might be like, hold on bro, you can't put yourself in the same sentence as Basquiat. But I want to be a maestro in acting and all these other things. Pay my dues. Put out good s**t people can appreciate, and not be limited.

 

Leonardo Dicaprio, paparazzi takes a picture of him leaving a coffee place, and he has a Cancun pyramid on it. Real subtle, clean, nice. And people are like, what is that, what is he wearing? People can say, that's Chingo Bling, he's an artist, he's a Chicano. That would tear down all these walls.

 

It's almost like a Chicano film or clothing line, record label, sometimes it has a connotation as something dirty, tainted, not mainstream. A bastardized version of something else. It's not really Hip Hop. When a Chicano film gets the Sundance stamp on it, all of sudden it gives it a different context. People gather around and observe it. 'Oh, this culture that's the center of the film has value and merit, it's worthy of being analyzed' almost like some anthropology s**t.

 

This is kind of extreme. But it's like back in the day in France, they'd put real indigenous people on display at a history museum, like a zoo. There'd be a little plaque saying what part of the f**king Amazon they found this person. Hollywood latched on to the cholo culture and has not sat that  motherf**ker down. It has been all about cholo culture in Hollywood nonstop. I've been living in L.A. three months, I haven't seen none of these kind of cholos they show on TV everyday. They're modern, wearing snapbacks and s**t.

 

It's been 25 years since "Stand and Deliver" came out. Since then, Hollywood hasn't tried to embrace positive Chicano movies.

 

Let me do the math, it came out in '88...

 

It's exactly 25 years, I recently read a LatinoBuzz interview with Edward James Olmos on the topic of Latino movies.

 

It hasn't hit me until now, hearing you speak. If I had to make a prediction, I would predict that this is THE next Chicano film. I don't want to jinx it, I don't want to hype up the film. But I think people are really ready and hungry for another La Bamba. I don't want to jinx anything, but it's time for another one, and this is it. I'm just going to go out on a limb [laughs].

 

Michael Olmos directing, Edward James Olmos acting, Gina Rodriguez. Artists from Jenni Rivera, to you and Baby Bash, and an April 16th soundtrack with Diamonique plus original music.

 

It's up to the people.

 

10 years ago you were doing "What's Really" with Baby Bash. That persona isn't the guy who graduated from Trinity University, so you could say that Chingo had been acting on some level since then.

 

I agree. However, I would also make the argument that for a while I didn't do a good job. You have everybody's expectations. That's what leads to the Cancun Shawty question. In order for Chingo Bling to be like a Chapulin or a Chespirito type character, I can only bring him out when the settings are right.

 

There has to be the right context for Chingo.


There has to be some production value. Something loosely scripted, or professional camera work. Not to sound demanding, but for a while everything was getting blended together.

 

Other things that I wanted to express, that I had interest in. Styles of clothing or music, different types of flow, subject matter. I would throw it all in this Chingo Bling umbrella, and it would get confusing to everybody. 'Well Chingo changed.' No, not really, it's just you're hearing another part of me. That's why people trip out if I'm wearing a different kind of hat. 'Wait a minute, you're supposed to wear the cowboy hat 24/7.' That just comes with the territory. Just like, what's the little guy, whatchu talkin about Willis?


Gary Coleman.

 

It's like always being Gary Coleman. 'Hey man, say your catch phrase! Why aren't you the chubby, lovable little adopted kid from TV?' [laughs]. In a nutshell, it had to be done, and it all came full circle. Not everybody is going to like it, but I'm able to do other ventures. For instance, act and play other characters.

 

It's like, hey man, put on your seatbelt because I'm doing a movie with Will Ferrell. And guess what? I'm not going to be Chingo in it. Get used to seeing me in different roles. I started a clothing line, and not every design is going to be novelty, flea market catch phrase.

 

Different like your recent song about immigrants.

 

Yeah, exactly. But it's still, in my opinion, cool subject matters to explore. Cool stories that need to be told. If people want to lump it under 'Well that's Chingo trying to be serious, that's not the Chingo I've grown to love.'

 

Fine, whatever. Call it what you want, call it a phase, that he's confused, he doesn't know who he wants to be. That's why I tried to create different aliases, nicknames.  That way hopefully people can start to figure it out. Somebody like me, I think I have so many ideas throughout the day. It's hard to put all those different ideas under one brand.


You're like a Chicano Sacha Baron Cohen.

 

[laughs] That's pretty cool.

 

It becomes necessary if you want to do a Tribal video wearing a trucker's cap. So how would you define Cancun Shawty?

 

It was a transitional thing that can lead to other things. The idea for the clothing came from that. You know how people throw Shawty in everything? It's a play on that, but it came from my subconscious. Cancun is the crossroads of history. Bloody, crazy, indigenous history. The conquistadors showed up, there were sacrifices, we were natives, we had pyramids there. But at the same time, it's tropical, it's beautiful. Americans are intrigued by it, it's the Mayan Riviera, there are resorts there. It symbolizes a part of Mexico and our identity that I want to remind people about.

 

While all of you are worried about Egyptian pyramids - which are cool - and your theories about what they represent and who built them, let me remind you that we also have pyramids. Our ancestors built them. They're also majestic. In this day and age when people use partying, and YOLO, vacations, lifestyle stuff. It also exists there. It represents Spring Break, vacation. If you can afford to go there, it's something to aim for.

 

You can be hung over, and mosey on over the next day and check out these pyramids. I haven't even gone, because I work too much. People don't get where this comes from. Why Cancun? Is your family from there? It's jumping to conclusions. It's because I haven't had time so people can understand what the brand is.

 

There's one design that says Texas. People are like, I live in Kansas, I don't know if I want to wear something that says Texas on it. My reply is, have you ever seen these couture brands that say Milan, New York, Los Angeles? That's what this is.

 

So where can people buy your clothing?

 

TheCancunLife.com is the exclusive outlet. Did you know that Versace had a mansion in Guadalajara?

 

Didn't realize that.

 

I didn't hear it until I was down there. We ate at a fancy restaurant, it's across the street. They said, 'oh he just really likes the weather.' I said, 'what?'

 

Let me find out he had a Chivas Rayadas shirt.

 

I don't know about all that. But this goes back to Mexican American identity. The thought that went through my mind was of all the places this man could have bought a mansion, why would he choose Mexico? That's kind of sad that a Mexican would say that. But at the same time, I was blown away by the beauty of all the s**t they were showing me. I was confused, who are all of these blue eyed, blond haired people? Why do so many rock bands come out here? So many things hit me at once, it was culture shock.

 

We went to where the agave fields are, it looked like a postcard. Mountains in the background, weather was perfect, there was a burro tied to a tree. Showing me the ancient art of making tequila. It was just trippy.

 

Better that Mexico be seen as a hip place, than that of pandilleros and crime. You grew up in the Valley, I used to visit Tamaulipas until the crime got too bad.

 

Today in an interview I did, the lady asked where my family was from. Valle Hermoso, Tamaulipas: small town, big violence. That's the slogan. I was joking, but it sounded like a tourism thing.

 

Now you're out West and getting movie roles.

 

I've been taking all kinds of acting classes, taking it serious. I hope people enjoy my experience in film. They're going to do a screening of Filly Brown at the AMC 30 on the South side of Houston, I used to work there through a temp agency. I'd look at the screens and say, 'I want to do that one day.'

 

I plan on being in film for a long time, making statements. I'm curious as to how many eras of Chingo there will be. Let's say a teenager, 'oh yeah, I love Chingo Bling's movies.' And his dad or uncle will say, 'well you know how he used to do music, you ought to look his stuff up.' 'He's been around that long?' When you can't even find a Chingo Bling bobblehead no more.

 

Patience is not one of my best traits, but I'm being patient and hanging in there. Honestly, man, it's the perfect time. I was starting to get real burned out with the Texas player hater thing. There's a lot of those, people I've never met. When I interact with actors, people from other walks of life, it seems like everybody's cool. But in that little bucket of Latin rap, they don't want to see NOBODY do well.

 

It's not just Texas. I interviewed Pitbull in 2004 when his first album dropped and he wasn't well known. Now he has 1.5 billion Youtube views. Some artists and music fans aren't happy about that. But that's how he feeds his kids.

 

What I like about him is he made the marketing. It's like the craziest magic trick ever pulled. And then he's LATIN. Dubai, the Netherlands, they want to see him, and sing along, that's great. He was a foster child in the hood in Miami, now he's global. I don't knock him.

 

You've also been on your grind. Not the typical Twitter promotion, but with the publicity and doing shows anywhere.

 

I've diversified, I'm not at the mercy of promoters anymore. But I've shook a lot of hands, met a lot of people. To me, that is so valuable. I feel like I have a good of understanding of who my supporters are. I'm grateful for that.

 

Chingo Bling official website: http://www.chingobling.com 

Chingo Bling on Twitter: http://twitter.com/CHINGOBLING

Chingo Bling on MySpace: www.myspace.com/officialchingobling

Chingo Bling on Facebook: www.facebook.com/officialchingobling

 

 




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