Reminisce 2: South Park Mexican

In 2002, my high school political science class took a trip to the court house in  Houston, Texas. That day, South Park Mexican was on trial for the aggravated sexual assault of a child.  The story went something like this; late at night he allegedly molested his daughter’s younger friend while they were all watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The entire court room was packed. There was no room to sit. People packed into the court room like it was a show. It was a sad and disturbing trial.

At the time,  I was only familiar with SPM’s radio hits such as High So HighWiggy Wiggy and Mary Go Round. Although I liked the songs my support never went any further. I think the common attitude towards SPM was that he was good, for a Mexican rapper. In Texas there was a stigma associated with Mexican rap. It seemed as though the south viewed Mexican rap the same way the north viewed southern rap, it just wasn’t taken seriously. And as a result SPM got little radio play.

As Thun recently pointed out, rappers should be assessed and judged as an emcee, period, not through the lenses of race and ethnicity. And while I agree with the idea behind that statement, it presumes that emcees may only be judged by one standard checklist.  Although SPM was making music for everyone, he made it difficult to be viewed as anything but Mexican rap. His race, ethnicity, and culture were a large part of his music and something my middle school Spanish classes didn’t equip me to understand.  Generally, as long as regional slang or references were put into context, their meanings could usually be identified. But when it came to SPM and the Dope House family, my fingers could only flip through my Spanish-English Dictionary so fast.

But aside from my once cultural-ist tendencies when it came to rap and the absence of radio exposure for SPM, another factor that weighed against SPM reaching my CD player was the fact that he was on trial for pedophilia.  Under the comments section, in Thun’s most recent post about Big Pun, Thun raised the issue of whether an artist’s “moral failings” should be considered when making a determination about their music.  Thun pointed out that “if we were to evaluate art based entirely on the moral failings of artists we’d be left with very little to appreciate.” But like Done stated, there are exceptions, and I didn’t want to support a rapper who was accused of touching little kids.

I decided to revisit SPM’s music. All I know[1], I wish I would have given SPM a fair chance earlier. His albums are thrilling, by any standard of review, objective or Latin.

Prior to SPM’s incarceration he released six albums. So far my favorites are Power Moves and Hustle Town, both released in 98’, and Last Chair Violinist, released in 2008. In 2001 SPM was held without bail. While in jail, SPM released 3 albums. The Last Chair Violinist was recorded from prison. Perhaps due to the dearth of inspiration in the penitentiary, his style never evolved. Instead it fossilized. His mid-90’s H-town style is the same today as it was in the 90’s. Frankly, that’s fine with me, because his pre-incarceration albums are sterling, so I find nothing wrong with his concrete consistency.

Sadly, in rap music, certain subject matter is so hackneyed, that high cappin’ about pressing issues such as gangs,[2] murder, sex, and drugs no longer captures the attention of listeners. But then there’s SPM whose material and execution is so unorthodox, that much of what he says could qualify for a trade secret. When I hear SPM’s songs, I am not sure whether to be impressed or horrified by the  social woes he wickedly adduces.  In the song Put Yo Fist Up: “fucking with an old school tramp/ 10 dollar rock for a 20 food stamp.” In the song, Where My Soldiers At? “Keep names, so while I’m smoking Greenbay/ you catchin lead cuz I had your ass prepaid.” In Y Must I: When the dust settles I’ll be on top/ fuck selling pebbles/ if you dodge the state prison it’s a great living/ choppin more birds than they do on thanksgiving.” In Ghetto Tales: I’m straight out the slums/ South Park, where you get your car washed for crumbs/ but these laws is on a cook out/ I used to get took out/ 3 dollar pieces for my look out/  licensed cookie baker, that’s my profession/  never have my dope in my home/ possession.” In Bloody War: “May you sleep in peace with the fish/you is a hoe and in the pen you’d be a bitch/ using red M&M’s for lipstick. In The last Chair Violinist: “this 8 by 10 is closing in/ in the hood I had it all, and a cold motherfucker with a basketball/  now I play with prisoners/ and don’t know nobody trip with us/ some in Garza, some in Dominguez/ if the cops ask, no speaky English.”

While SPM demonstrates an O.G. type of erudition on the intricacies of dope game in South Park, Texas, he often takes on a playful puerile role in many of his songs.  In Swim: “my mom did her best, she would hug and kiss me/ even though we had more mice than Disney.” In Mexican Heaven: “I won a knife at the carnival they have off Jenson/ it’s just for good luck, not for a weapon/I wonder can I take it/ well that’s if I make it/ but I don’t want to walk around all butt naked/ will my hydraulics work up in the clouds/do people start complaining if the music is loud/ and these are the things that I ask the reverend/ excuse me sir, but can Mexicans go to Heaven?” In Gangsterous: I rock Phillies/ my lac pop wheelies/now I’m locked up with the dude that robbed Chili’s. In Hoggin’ and Doggin’: “never boring or simple, man I’m really exciting/I go to clubs and be fighting/ I be kicking and biting/ and I might poke your eye out, I don’t fight that[3]fair/ I fought a dude with some razors, started pulling his hair/ but my boys backed me up and leave nobody standing/ I’m like why yall jump in man I almost had him?/ and they was like Los he was beaten’ yo ass/ I was letting him get tired man you messed up my plans/ anyways I’ma write a song about it and tell all my fans that I beat him up all by myself.”

Damn, SPM paints a pretty detailed picture, like an oil painting that is so illustrative, it looks like a photograph from a distance. When I play SPM, its like eating tortilla chips and flaming hot salsa and the only way to stop the burn is to keep eating more. I do not have the slightest idea whether SPM actually committed the acts he was accused of, but when I listen to his words, I encounter the same haunting feeling I experience when I read about disturbing crimes in the news. But that’s what music is supposed to do. It is supposed to affect you.

[1] All I Know, by The Earnie Banks. I’ve been starting sentences off a lot with this line. Had to give props.

[2]Like all the Soo Woo stuff.

[3] Such an infantile placement of the word “that.”

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