From Purple Drank to
Pyramids: The Evolution of Chingo Bling
4/14/13 at 2:55 AM ET - LatinRapper.com interview
Bling 1st Interview and
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.
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
Same day as the movie.
Who are the guest
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
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
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
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
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,
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.
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?
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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