Something that has always vexed me is the act of laying claim to Chicano identity without bearing any political responsibilities or consciousness. To me, Chicanos don’t always have to be Mexican-Americans but the line in the sand is that calling yourself Chicano is identifying with a leftist political ideology. That’s why it burns my ass to no end that there is a genre of Hip-Hop known as Chicano Rap that is all but devoid of politics. The only references to identity in most Chicano Rap albums has to do with identifying as a Norteño or Sureño aside from vague references to “Brown Pride.” At this point in our political culture the idea of “Brown Pride” has been exhausted of its political meaning and we’ve now progressed way beyond it.
Pop in almost any mainstream Chicano Rap album and you’re more than likely to hear stories of popping caps, being king of the block, representing a clicka, slanging ‘caine, getting respect, and other acts of depoliticized patriarchal bullshit. Despite all of these Chicano rappers trying to out-badass each other there’s one person that’s got them all beat. That person is one Ms. Lily Allen.
This weekend I was cycling through Lily Allen songs on my ipod while riding on a train to San Jose and came across Nan, You’re a Window Shopper. The song is Lily Allen’s version of 50 Cent’s Window Shopper. It’s a cheeky diss track against Allen’s own grandmother. What’s so revolutionary about it is that the song covers territory that’s essentially forbidden to Chicano Rappers. Think about it, Chicano Rap songs are filled with predictable tropes of violence and nostalgia but even the most baddest of cholos still hold some things sacred. Lily Allen was brave enough to break one of our most basic social conventions and for that she is more dangerous than any Chicano Rapper.
Question: Despite all the hyper-masculine posturing, can you ever picture any of these supposedly hardcore Chicano Rappers cutting a track against their own dear abuelitas?
The bar has been set by Lily Allen. I dare any of you calling themselves Chicano Rappers to reach for it. Put up or shut the fuck up.