Cholo imagery in jj’s Let Go

I think I just saw the damndest thing I’ve ever laid my Chicano eyes on. I’ve written about Swedish group jj before and my love of hybridity is well known but nothing could have prepared me for this.

At first I thought it was a straight up homage to 90’s era West-Coast thug life but a few visual tropes lean more towards Cholo culture. The basics are there: blunts, rags, and pouring one out but the pendleton shirt and the Christ-like tears of blood point it to Raza. Ultimately Catholic imagery separates mainstream West-Coast thuggin’ from Cholos and Cholas and this video certainly has it.

So what makes this a hybrid creation and not some act of fashionable cultural appropriation? The answer lies in the lyrical aesthetics of jj. While musically consistent, their three albums have this amazing quality of being able to seamlessly transition from folksy, dreamy, and wistful lyrics to referencing straight up gangster shit (a quality they share with fellow labelmates The Tough Alliance.) The best example of this is My Way, their collaboration with Lil’ Wayne that they released a couple of months ago. Lead singer Elin Kastlander singing “My hood so good, keep it pure like you knew I would” and “I’m sweet, I’m street” may not be 100% authentic but they come correct with their lyrical references. Give it a listen:

Download jj (feat. Lil’ Wayne) – My Way [save link as]

and while we’re at it

Download jj – Let Go [save link as]

So there you have it, jj’s Let Go. What does everyone think? Are Swedish Cholos and Cholas the way of the future? I feel their use of our aesthetics is at least consistent with the gangster quality of their music and not simply a thoughtless throwaway.

One more note, is the photography in this video beautiful or what?




El Rio’s Valentine’s Day Cards 2010

What’s up to all my friends,  lovers, and drunken makeout partners! El Rio’s Valentine’s Day Cards are back in the ring to take another swing for 2010! This is the 4th year of my cards and it’s turned into my longest running project. Enjoy!

As always, please post these cards on the pages of your friends, enemies, sexting partners, craigslist hookups, and friends with benefits. To see an archive of cards from years past CLICK HERE.

Baby and Johnny
Keep Ya Head Up

Peace n’ Love,


Mission Report: Valentine’s Day Edition

This is Rio Yañez taking it to the streets in an effort to bring you the latest news, chisme, and trash talk from the Mission District. Strap on your chanclas ’cause here we go!

Maybe it doesn’t hold up much these days but back in the day you couldn’t claim any sort of ghetto glam status without having your photo in the window of Dore Studio. If there was ever a Mission District version of America’s Next Top Model it was the competition between homegirls and hoodrats to get face time in the window at 2442 Mission Street. No joke, my homegirl Michelle once had her photo up in the window and we all treated it like it was a glorious 15 minutes of fame.

You want proof of the rapid gentrification of the Mission District? Look no further than the steep decline of ghetto gold. HISTORY LESSON: These gaudy-ass gold pieces used to be everywhere in the Mission. You used to be able to buy gold 49er chains in the New Mission theater while movies played. Sharp dressed men would go up and down the aisles with suitcases full of ghetto gold. You also could walk down the street and dudes would open their coats and they would be draped with the most ghetto fabulous chains and watches. The ghetto gold hustler is an endangered species in the Mission; the last time I saw a ghetto gold deal was years ago. It was inside the McDonald’s on 24th street and this guy has a small briefcase full of chains, he strolled up to a woman sitting down with her cheeseburger and opened it up on her table. She paid cash for a thin necklace and her parting words to him were “If I find out this shit is fake, I’mma come back and getcho’ ass.” Nowadays, ghetto gold is limited to a handful of shops around the neighborhood but I can’t imagine them lasting long unless gold weed leaves become a popular ironic accessory for hipsters.

Apparently the Mission District version of Batman claims North Side. That explains the MS13 tattoo I saw on the Joker’s neck the other day. Somewhere out there the ghost of Bob Kane is spinning; keep ya head up Bob.

Mariela and I went to Sheikh on 23rd & Mission to cop some cheap & sexy shoes for our Valentine’s day rendezvous. Back in the day, Foxy Lady Boutique was the only place on Mission street to buy ghetto-ass hootchie shoes; thankfully a lot of less-expensive alternatives have sprung up over the years. Sheikh may be a corporate chain but it’s my favorite place to buy footwear in the Mission. We came across these amazing pair of Shiekh Mellina-17G‘s pictured above and it was love at first sight. My homie Roger tipped me off that they’re bootlegs of Chanel gun-heeled shoes. Alas they were just a bit too small and they didn’t have the next size up. Once I get paid again best believe that I’ll be ordering pairs in gold and black online.

That does it for today’s dispatch from the front lines of the Mission District! Stay tuned for more slangin’ and bangin’ soon!