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Capone - Music for the Barrio
3/1/05 - exclusive interview



rapper Capone picture

Ask any Chicano rap aficionado to rattle off a list of the top artists in that sub genre, and Capone's name will come up more often than not. Capone was born in Cali yet spent much of his childhood in the Detroit area, later returning to Cali and making a name for himself on the Lowrider Tour while opening up for everyone from Ice Cube to the Kumbia Kings. Now based in Austin, Texas, Capone is doing what he does best, putting out the music he loves and moving tens of thousands of units per CD.

Capone took time out to speak to LatinRapper about his music and addressed his well publicized beef with artist Capone-E in an exclusive interview. What are you working on right now?

Right now, working on a distribution deal, I just got an attorney that's pretty high up there, he's talking to EMI Latin for me, hoping that pans out. Just finished the Chicano World 3 album, I was supposed to turn that in but hoping this EMI deal turns over.

You've sold over 100,000 albums, which is a big figure for any artist on an independent label. What has been your recipe for success

I wouldn't so much consider it success, just marketing. We don't have big huge budget for videos and all that. But just getting out in the streets, putting up posters, building relationships with distributors. Letting them know there's a market for this. Kind of like punk music was, it's still underground. You put out a good album, word of mouth works wonders.

A year after dropping your debut album, Raza Rolls Deep, you were on the highly esteemed Lowrider Tour. What was it like to get recognition so fast?

I consider myself lucky. I had made a single for Thump Records, for the first song I had ever made in rap music. They bought it, that's how I got on the tour. It just so happens I got on Thump Records Compilation Vol. 9, and that song got me on the tour, it was a single. They had the single for a good year, and the tour came in ‘98, ‘99. Back then, it was Kid Frost, Lighter Shade of Brown, there wasn't too many Latino rappers. Proper dos. I got to do shows with Kid Frost, Roger Troutman, Morris Day. I got fortunate, one lucky break put me on the stage with all those people.

Some have called you the Hip Hop voice of the Latino community, do you feel that this title applies to you?

It should have been Latino music voice (laughs), I'm not into political stuff and all that. But as far as Latino music goes, I feel I'm the best at one I do. I have a lot of good songs that relate to the Latino community. I just know that I'm the best at what I do, know what I'm saying. And if I could hear someone who could do it better than me, id give them props, but a lot of people are straying away from that, I don't know why

Straying away from what?

From the Latino... in other words, I'm in this for different reasons. I'm in this to make good albums. And I'll admit when I first started they weren't good ‘cause I just started, but I stayed on point. I know what my audience looks like, I do it for them. Some artists just do it for big money. Some approach me like, "hey do a song like this", I don't see myself doing it. Like 2pac, he had his own thing. He made crazy songs, like Brenda Had a Baby, that happened to someone. I just wanna do that kind of music, tell stories about things that happened not everybody wants to hear happy, uptempo music.

You're albums have names like Chicano World 3, but do you consider the music you put out Chicano Rap?

Well, I don't wanna say its just for Chicanos, know what I'm saying. Its more geared towards Latinos, but you know, I have other races that listen to it as well. Not all the songs are just Mexican songs.

To you personally, what distinguishes Chicano Rap from any other genre of rap?

Obviously the topics that are discussed in the music. The lifestyle situations people end up in, there are a lot of people that are into that lifestyle, lowriding, certain things in that circle that come out in the music. A lot of people on the outside looking in , they get the record and get a feel for what's going on.

Who were some of the artists that influenced you and your music?

There's groups that I like, you know, I don't think anyone influenced. I like Kid Frost when he came out. He was like the first Mexican rapper, so that's an influence, like ‘wow that can happen'. Cypress Hill, Psycho Realm, Fat Joe of course, and Big Pun. One of the dopest rappers out there, I think, is Immortal Technique. I listen to a lot of stuff out there, but that dude's tight.

We ran an interview with him not that long ago.

And you don't hear him on the radio, you barely see a poster, but you see: word of mouth. I heard of him through a friend, and saw him at a conference. That's the kind of music, stuff that applies, music that applies. Like you listen to Immortal Tech's songs, he's talking about something, its solid music. Some of these other groups, I don't know what they're saying. Drinking wine, Hennessey, popping collars, that don't apply to me

Who are some of the artists you've recorded with so far?

I'm not really into all that, you know, I have recorded with a few people. I just did a track with South Park Mexican, and of course I made an album with another Chicano rapper, Conejo.

Anybody you look forwarded to working with, or would like to if given the opportunity?

50 cent or Fat Joe, or Nas.

That's surprising to hear someone in the Southwest mention three New York artists first.

No, its just that they have lyrics, and when I sit down and write a song, I'm not trying to say I'm on Fat Joe or Nas' level, but they take time doing their stuff. And I like what they talk about, if they did a feature album and needed a Mexican flipping some Mexican stuff, it would fit. I just like the way that they write. And its not that I'm hating on the West coast at all, just that they are more party, more into pimp sh*t, like Snoop, he don't get real lyrical. They're more laid back, more cool.

You have one of the must talked about beefs out West, between you and Capone-E. How did it start in the first place?

I hate to even acknowledge that dude. I take my career serious, its kind of weird, I left Thump Records and they pick this dude up. The main beef is that the dude sucks, he's wack. This is word of mouth, people buying his sh*t on accident thinking its me. He can't touch me lyrically, there's zero competition. Basically that's it, just a rap beef, the dude's name is too close to mine with his genre of music. I cant stand rappers who think that they're above others. Just ‘cause you do music, doesn't make you a prince. This is the type of dude that rushes into the limousine [after a show], I take my time, shake hands.

For those not familiar with the beef, does it extend between other artists on his or your labels?

Like I said, I don't know them. I already stepped up and clowned the dude twice, they haven't even retaliated against me on the record. This is rap dude, this is how it works. Nas and Jay-Z had it out, 50 and Ja. I did my part on Chicano World 3, exposed him.... Funny thing is, he ain't even Latino. [editor note: emails were sent to Mr. Capone-E and his record label asking for confirmation or denial of the ethnicity claim to offer an impartial feature, those emails have not been returned]

But in all fairness, even if he's Middle Eastern, he's still brown, its still brown on brown violence it can come to. Is it just that you don't like that he does Chicano rap?

No, its just... The main thing is, dude, I grew up San Fernando, California. So all the cholo style, big clothes, Dickies, back in ‘89, ‘88, I lost at least seven homeboys from our neighborhood, murdered. Nowadays, you got guys like this dude, dressing like a Mexican dude. He's pimping our culture, the way I see it. And then people, you know, think he's a real cholo. I got dudes that were murked for sh*t like that. ‘Hey what gang are you from', ‘San Fernando?' Boom! Nowadays they dress like that. As far as violence goes, I'm not gonna go like an immature rapper. If it goes violent, that will be on him. I'm not gonna go try to shoot no one.

For the sake of discussion, what would it take for Capone and Capone-E to be able to squash their beef and put things in the past?

Who knows, man. That's all I can say. Its rap music, you know, it's a battle for the title, the way I see it. Eventually it'll fix itself.

Plenty of artists have clothing lines or promote automobile-related businesses, do you have any business interests outside of hip hop?

Yeah, we have our own clothing company that we're starting called Cartel. And that's pretty much in the design stage right now. Outside of music, though, that's it. That's all I do is music, try to get more educated on how the business works, marketing strategies. Outside of that, chilling with my family, raising my kids.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Everyone that supports me or has ever bought a record, I appreciate it. I put my phone number out there in case anyone hears a rumor or has a question, they can call me at 254-421-0303 or they can drop me an email at   


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