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?