Before pop stars were packaging dancehall beats and pumping them across the airwaves for mainstream consumption, Los Rakas were already out here combining hip-hop and dembow rhythms – most notably in their 2010 viral hit “Abrazame” and 2011’s “Soy Raka.” The Panamanian cousins have been shaking and stirring the melting pot of Caribbean musical tradition for over 10 years, blending multiple genres into their own unique hybrid. At SXSW, Raka Rich told Remezcla’s Eric Gamboa, “We’ve opened a new door in urban music, but it wasn’t something we did intentionally. It was something that came naturally.”
With a newly released self-titled album and a recent performance at the White House, Los Rakas have established themselves as Afro-Latino hip-hop titans. Amidst this preeminent buzz, they’ll also be headlining Afro-Latino Festival in New York City this coming weekend.
The duo has attributed their diverse musical influences to growing up in Latino and African-American communities in the Bay Area. So we asked the group to curate a playlist of all the iconic sounds they bumped on the streets of Oakland as kids. From Carlos Santana’s classic “Black Magic Woman” to E-40’s hyphy hit “Choices (Yup),” Los Rakas’ Mi Barrio playlist showcases the origin of their sound. Check it out below: