Of Mexican Descent

Fri Dec 12

Ash Street

Confession: I've never heard Of Mexican Descent. But I have heard 2Mex--half of the L.A. hiphop duo with Xololanxinxo--who moves in the madly skilled realm of that city's fecund underground scene. And I've checked his phenomenal crew Visionaries, which consists of DJ Rhettmatic, LMNO, KeyKool, Zen, and Dannu. Judging by his crucial new solo joint, Sweat Lodge Infinite (Temporary Whatever) and Visionaries' forthcoming gem Pangaea (Up Above), whatever 2Mex gets his higher consciousness involved in will be illuminated with specialness.

2Mex (Alexandro Ocana) is that rare cat who knows and respects hiphop's peak achievements, but he still keeps his gaze futureward. This results in work that's as exciting and enlightened as that by early Jungle Brothers and De La Soul, and X Clan's To the East, Blackwards. You can't fuck with this hombre. He came up through the legendary Good Life Cafe open-mic workshop, which has spawned tons of luminaries, including Jurassic 5 and the Project Blowed collective. He cites this experience as invaluable to his own lyrical expertise.

"I'm just trying to make the kind of hiphop that impressed me when I was young," 2Mex comments. "Nothing was more important to me than hiphop! When I was younger, I would rather buy a $5 cassingle than put gas in my car and go out."

2Mex's unquenchable love of hiphop has led him into many groups, as well as a promising solo career. I ask him about the challenges and pleasures each project offers him and which he enjoys the most.

"Visionaries is my chance to live out my hiphop fantasy with a world-class DJ and a crew of dope MCs whose only mission is to project hiphop. Of Mexican Descent is my [original] group. It's the yin and yang of me and Xololanxinxo. The struggle from the beginning was to be proud of who we are and yet [to try] not to pattern ourselves after any Latino group that came before us. It's where my heart is, for sure.

"My solo work is just about having the freedom to do whatever I want. [It's about] not being afraid to admit that groups like They Might Be Giants and the Cure or Eels are what I really listen to. [It's me] listening to Elliott Smith and trying to re-create that in hiphop form."

That's some out-there shit for a hiphop artist to admit to. But 2Mex doesn't care what purists think. He's going to continue to plow his unique path in this game, and hiphop can only benefit from such open-mindedness.