Sometimes, a physical place is the best representation of the sounds you love. That’s what was on the mind of James Jenson, a visual artist and activist, as he designed a poster for a recent De La Ghetto concert in the Rio Grande Valley’s McAllen, Texas. The show was part of Miller Lite’s Conciertos Originales, a series of free concerts the beer brand has hosted for the past seven years to celebrate the cultural impact of Latin music. In his poster, Jenson wanted to capture all of the sights that surround the RGV, where artists, musicians and DJs have propped up a unique scene that melds cumbia, Tejano, reggaeton and more. In his poster, Jenson included all of the little details that make his home unique: the region’s palm trees, the namesake river, the little cactus plants and even the small bakeries that churn out fresh concha bread in local neighborhoods.
“My whole process that went into this poster design started with the Valley – everything I see when I walk when I’m going somewhere at night. These are things I try to represent in my artwork,” he said. “When the people of McAllen see my poster, I want them to feel a good representation of who we are as a community.”
He got a chance to share his poster with De La Ghetto, who has a deep understanding of community. His own music has been heavily influenced by the areas in which he grew up: De La Ghetto split his time between New York and Puerto Rico, and all of the places from his past are reflected in a massive body of work that includes forays into trap, hip hop, reggaeton and more. He’s been a pioneer in these genres, and he took some of his most popular songs to the stage in McAllen when he performed in August.
But even through a busy performance schedule, De La Ghetto still made time to offer words of advice for Jenson as he continues on his journey of representing culture through art. The legendary hitmaker encouraged him to keep experiencing new things while focusing on his craft.
“Don’t be scared to believe in yourself, brother. Just get out on the street and travel the world. Get to know different cultures and just work your butt off, bro, work your ass off,” De La Ghetto said. “That’s what I did. And like I say to everyone, if I did it, you can do it, too. It’s just that simple, but you gotta believe in yourself.”
Check out the full video below.
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