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Lito MC Cassidy and the Republic of Latin Hip Hop
8/28/11 - LatinRapper.com exclusive interview by Dante

 

Lito MC Cassidy picture

Puerto Rican rapper Lito MC Cassidy is on a mission to unify the Latin Hip Hop world.  Best known as one-half of veteran duo Lito & Polaco, Rafael Sierra has spearheaded a movement to unite Hispanic rappers, and offer up and coming artists an opportunity to succeed.

 

With his first solo album on the horizon, Lito has matured from underground MC to Latin rap's street messenger.  He speaks to LatinRapper on his upcoming CD and new mission in this exclusive interview.


LatinRapper.com: By the end of the year, you're dropping Historias de la Calle.  What can you tell us about that?


This is my first solo album.  The first album since I was out in four years.  I was solving some legal issues.  Personal issues.  At the same time, I was reviewing after so many years, trying to get contact with my old self. And find me as an artist.  It wasn't continuing just rhymes and rapping, I needed a bigger point of view since I'm not the same young cat.

 

This album captures all that.  The point that I'm at right now as a rapper.  That's why I call it storytelling, because it's social and street, but still has a message on it.  It still captures what people know me from, street music. But it's from a mature point of view.

 

Normally when people think Lito y Polaco, they think of Maniatica Sexual or violent music.  So is this new album calmed down?

 

It's not more calmed down.  When I was young, I used to see violence as a way of expression, making things my way.  And now, I see it as a social point of view where it's affecting all of us, know what I mean?  I see it as a point of view that a lot of people live in the same state of mind that I used to have.  But nobody gets the time to tell them 'hey, there some other opportunities.'  People that have fame and money and have things never get back to the ghetto where they came from to say, 'hey, that's alright that you feel like that at this moment, but there some other alternatives.' 

 

This is not the same Lito that will say hey, I'mma kill 20 hundred people.  It's hey, y'all killing 20 hundred people, but who is helping us?  We killing each other for stupid things.  It will look at young kids that you see talking like that.  You think, he's going through trouble.  If he expresses himself that way, you have to teach him to express himself in some other positive way.

 

You know, one of those gangster flicks when you see the guy young, and he throws punches, and he's very mean.  This album, it's the same cat, but grown up.  He is intelligent on every move that he makes.

 

Was there a personal change in your life that brought this attitude about, or is it just Lito getting older?

 

No, it's a personal thing.  If I didn't have the opportunity to be off this four years, I'd be saying the same thing.  Once you have time to stop and have time to think and hear what you're talking about.  I've been doing this for so long, people like it, but what am I leaving for society?  What am I leaving so people can remember me.

 

When you hear Tupac, you think about 'Brenda Has a Baby.'  You think about songs that made an impact, that's why he was so good.  In my case, I'm saying maybe I never know when the time comes that I have to die.  But I have to leave something to society, not only rhymes.  I have to give knowledge so people can see me in another point of view.

 

It helps to be mainstream if you have a message, to get your point of view out.  So are you doing anything radio-friendly with this album?

 

Yeah.  The way of expression I have is that you don't have to say a bad word to get across.  I have songs for child abuse, for rape.  I don't talk about rape just to talk about it.  By my experience of all the kids and all the young ladies that have come to me and say, 'I was raped, my father used to rape me, Lito do a song.'

 

Because of the songs I did about gangs and violence in the ghetto, people used to tell me 'do a song about this.'  But when you see girls being raped, kids being abandoned, child abuse, you want to say it how it is.  Because there's a lot of people that think that's not happening.  To make it a story so people can feel the vibe of this person.  Maybe how she's thinking the first day she got raped, to the state of mind that she wants to commit suicide.  Young people are going to relate to it. 

 

People that know it's happening, and they're not doing nothing about it, they'll say I'm going to take a stand.  Let me help this person out.  That makes me feel good, and I know people are gonna love the tracks because it's deep.  Instead of me saying how many guys I can kill in one song.  It's a song you won't forget.  If I'm gonna talk about how many guys I wanna kill, I have to tell them why my mind was there, and why I was thinking of killing this guy. Who got me there.  There are some songs I'm gonna wild out, because I come from the hood, I know what they wanna listen to.  But in some songs, I made the presence of a more mature Lito.

 

Will there still be tiraera with other artists, you beefing with artists in Puerto Rico?  Or are those days over?

 

One of the main things I did when I decided to come back, was the Republic.  Latin Republic.  The Latin Republic is a movement, it's all pro Hip Hop.  It's uniting all the best artists all around the world of Latin Hip Hop, of the Latin community.  The last seven months have been incredible, you've got more than 70 top artists.  You've got a bunch of new talent that believe that uniting is better than fighting.  I have people that I've beefed with that are part of the movement. 

 

One thing that I've learned is that beefing is good, but it divides the public.  When I used to beef with Tempo, back in the day I had a big crowd of fans.  But once we go to a stage, I had it divided.  Let's say it was 5,000 people.  2,500 for me, or 2,500 for Tempo.  Or a thousand for me, and more for Tempo.  When you get to the public fighting, the music isn't getting across.  And now in this era, when Latin Hip Hop is on the scale that other music genres took over, it's time for us to unite and make it stronger. 

 

When you go to Chile, Venezuela, I've been traveling to Spain, Hip Hop is very present.  But only for their countries.  They do big concerts, but they don't like the music from other parts.  'I can do better than this other part,' or Puerto Rico better than Santo Domingo, Santo Domingo better than Chile.  But now, it's all about respect.  If I get that message across, and we get everybody to unite, I believe Latin Hip Hop is gonna be unstoppable.  It's already established in every other country.

 

So is La Republica your brainchild?

 

La Republica was a term that I worked with my lawyers and agents.  I said if I wanna come back, I don't know how to sing Reggaeton.  And most of my tracks like Maniatica Sexual, was beats that I made it Hip Hop, and they made it Reggaeton.  Reggaeton had a vibe since a long time ago, it's not the same.  When we used to do it in '99 or 2000, it was all about the dance.  It was more skills to it.  Now it's like reggaepop, everything is all about love, and you'll see the sexual dance we used to have.  I don't know how to do that. 

 

And the sex appeal that they ask for, you have to be looking nice and neat.   I'm not neat, and I'mma guy that talks from the street.  If I'm gonna come back, I wanna help all my other colleagues from all around the world.  Talk to the fans, and reunite them, show them they have to respect other artists regardless of country. 

 

That was the ticket.  We made a phone call and called all the artists, each of them.  We invited them and told them what's the plan.  To get all together, I promote you, you promote me.  I don't get paid for the promotion, it's just showing love.  The fans understand it's just for love of Hip Hop.  Once we did that, from becoming a dream to a reality, it's not only my child.  It's everyone that loves Hip Hop.  The Republic is theirs, it's not mine.  Me getting closer to the fans, the fans having the opportunity to get closer to their favorite artists.

 

In all honesty, longtime listeners of your music like myself are probably surprised that someone from Lito & Polaco has become a unifying voice in Latin Hip Hop.

 

Yeah, yeah.  That's the best thing, when people ask me about that, 'you've been in so many beefs, how can you be united?'  I told them in one of my songs, first you have to learn how to crawl, then how to walk.  The experience that I have with beefing, I'm the one who knows by experience that it's better united. 

 

If I get into a beef with Santo Domino or Venezuela, even though they're stronger, we get weaker so that other genres of music can come in.  If we unite, you get more powerful.  You have Prieto from Venezuela, Lolo en el Microfono from DR, and Lito MC Cassidy from Puerto Rico.  People who didn't know about Prieto from Venezuela, now know about him from DR.  The same thing happens with people in DR.  It was all free.  Everyone put in for studio time.  If you don't have it, I'll find it.  If you don't have a guy that can make art for the cover, I will do it. 

 

I started in my neighborhood. I had ten fans, and six were family members.  Once my music started growing bigger, I started from San Juan to Bayamon.  From Bayamon to Carolina.    And it started growing bigger til I got all Puerto Rico.  Now the format that I'm using for the Republic is Puerto Rico.  From DR.  We already have Spain, Mexico, Colombia.  If we get all these people together, Latin Hip Hop is gonna be in the place that it was supposed to be more than 20 years ago.

 

Does this mean that we're going to see some of that diversity on your upcoming album?

 

Yeah.  I'm not only preaching about it, I'm acting on it.  If this is gonna help the movement, I'm here.  If you need something, and I can help you, the Republic is there.  We even opened a page, www.larepublicahiphop.com where we promote all artists.  It's a 24 hour service.  We have Republica Hip Hop on Facebook.

 

So who are the guest artists on the new album?

 

I wouldn't say who I have until the company releases it.  I can say that it's the best album I have done in my life.  It will show my skills on rhyming, on putting words together, and my way of thinking.  More mature, but capturing everyone.  It's not like I'm going conscious and forgetting about the streets, I'm going street conscious.  It's my best product.

 

Can you mention who the producers are?

 

I have Noodles Productions, he's a nice beatmaker.  I have DJ Eric.  One of the things that I said, if I'm going to start all over, I'm going to the roots.  The guy who found me.  Even though I have differences in the past with DJ Eric, we fixed all differences, said let's work.  He found the real Lito, the one that started. 

 

So it took me a couple of months and go back to the Lito that everybody liked.  When you do something for so many years, every year you get weaker.  So I had to go back to my roots.  And DJ Eric, since he was the founder, and the one who teach me most of the things that I know about music.  We said 'I want you back, so let's work.'  He got me back on track.  We got East Beat New York.  I got Echo from Puerto Rico.

 

My first DJ Eric Industry album, we're talking the mid 90's. 

 

He was one of the founders.

 

That's back when we were calling it Underground.

 

That was the name.  I used to say Underground, but then it changed to Reggaeton.  Reggaeton was different, but still catchy.  But when it switched to Reggae pop, then everything changed.

 

Somewhere between Vico C and Big Boy, and what we have today, they didn't know what to call it.  It wasn't until 2001 that I even heard the term Reggaeton.

 

You got it.  Exactly like that, between '99 and 2001, was the full transition to Reggaeton.

 

So is Lito MC Cassidy a Reggaeton artist, or a rapper?

 

Since I started, if you see my whole catalog, I'm a rap artist.  But that's one thing.  I'm a lyricist, and I'm a writer, I write songs.  So there's no limit for me, I can write songs for whatever.  But what I know how to do is rap, I'm a Hip Hop artist.

 

Would you ever do a crossover album in English?

 

I have one song I can tell you about, the title is 'Oh My God.'  It's a song I did in English, I always try to do some English tracks.  But I haven't thought about it.  I think I have a lot of things I have to cover, and skills I still want to gain in Spanish, I haven't thought of doing a whole song in English.

 

You have a new video for Respeto, you throw some Spanglish in.

 

Yeah, I have songs in English that I do for myself, 'cause I like to practice.  Sometimes I show it to close friends and they love it.  But it's not something that I'm looking forward to right now.  Right now I'm focused on getting better on my Latin Hip Hop, on my skills of rhyming.

 

So when is the album dropping?

 

We only touching two more songs that we have to finish.  We were in a meeting this morning talking about it.  Once we have these two songs, we can deliver the album to the company so they can schedule it, I hope before December of this year.

 

Through Sony?

 

Sony is dropping it.

 

Sony always has artists like Calle 13.  Will you be on tour alone, or with other artists to promote the album?

 

That I cannot tell you.  But we're going on tour, we're going to have concerts, that's going to happen.  We're already planning concerts for La Republica.  There have been a couple of shows that we already booked for December and November.  We're practicing a whole new show, we're getting ready for it.  Not only with Lito as an artist, but with Lito y Polaco, and artists from The Republic.

 

Are you from Carolina, originally?

 

I'm from San Juan, Puerto Rico.  From Villa Palmera.

 

If Lito MC Cassidy had never picked up a microphone, what would he be doing right now?

 

I'd be working in Burger King.

 

(laughs)

 

I'd be dead, one of two.

 

So music has been good to you.

 

Music has been in my favor.  I haven't had a chance to work no other place, I've done music my whole life.  It's been a blessing.  It's still a struggle.  For me to get good, I have to suffer every day.  It's going to be suffering 'til the day I die, I feel so much passion for music. 

 

I feel so much passion for helping new cats.  That's what I love, helping new cats.  A kid doesn't remember you if you treat them good, but they don't forget you if you treat them bad.  That's what I do with newcomers, I treat them good when they start off.  Because you never know when they're gonna get big.

 

George Lopez does a whole bit about how Erik Estrada wouldn't shake his hand when he was a teenager.  In Hip Hop, you always have to stay on the up and up with people.

 

They taught me that when I was really young.  An older cat, he was a basketball player.  'Hey Lito, you gotta treat everybody good.'  It has paid off every time.  If they get big, it makes me prolong everything I do.  I love to teach other rappers that, older cats, let's help the young ones.  It will prolong what we love, that is Hip Hop. 

 

Everybody be competing against each other.  Who has a better promoter, who has better studios, who has this and that.  And it's a waste of time, because we're killing what we love.

 

I'm with you.

 

I hope you get the words I don't pronounce that good.  I'm not too good in English, this cable TV helping me out.

 

(both laugh)

 

One thing that I want to say, La Republica and Hip Hop is not about Lito.  It's all about all of us.  We have graffiti artists, we have people from the radio, we have everybody that loves Hip Hop.  It's about every other movement that can put a little piece of sand to make this stronger.  Whoever loves Hip Hop, we're united, let's make this powerful.  Maybe I'll get to see it in my lifetime, but I believe Latin Hip Hop is going to be in the place that it was supposed to be a long time ago.

 

Right.

 

In Hip Hop, you don't see a lot of ladies.  We as guys aren't giving them a chance to come in and feel the love of Hip Hop.  I've been in concerts of 80,000 people.  I can tell you less than one woman [performer] was there.  And that's a problem.  In Hip Hop you find love, hate, pain.  So why aren't women more involved in Hip Hop?  That's why we're trying to make Hip Hop a bigger place.  Where everyone can relate, not only guys or gangsters. 

 

There's a lot of women that love Hip Hop.  They say that they'll listen to English Hip Hop instead of Latin Hip Hop.  Because Latin Hip Hop is all about 'I'm gonna kill you.  But nobody talks about us, unless they sayin' they wanna f**k us.'   We have to stop that and give women the opportunity to get better.

 

Anything else you want to add?

 

The best moment of my career, my highest point, when I did Mundo Frio, Fuera de Serie, my hottest songs was rap.  So what happened to everybody else?  There's better rap than me, maybe they're hungrier than me, but they didn't get the opportunity.  That opportunity can only come if all of us get together and say it's time to unite, and make us stronger.

 

Lito on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/lito_mc_cassidy

Lito on Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/litomccassidy/

Lito on Facebook: http://es-es.facebook.com/litomusica

La Republica Website: http://www.larepublicahiphop.com/    

 

 




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