Mexico has a storied relationship with hip-hop culture. It’s a logical connection given Mexico’s physical and cultural proximity to the United States, and over the years it’s brought the world big-selling raperos like Control Machete alongside underground phenoms like Bocafloja. But in Mexico, as in the United States, hip-hop is an ever-evolving culture, with new scenes and styles asserting themselves with each passing year.

So filmmaker Kyzza Terrazas set out to discover exactly where Mexican hip-hop’s at in 2016 with his latest documentary feature Somos lengua. Terrazas is principally known as one of the Executive Producers behind Mexican production powerhouse Canana, founded by Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna, but he has previously tried his hand at directing with the narrative features Déficit and El lenguaje de los machetes. This latest project is the result of a curiosity Terrazas felt for hip-hop culture, which eventually led to a full-blown investigation that took him across numerous states and into diverse scenes.

In this way, Somos lengua is less a fanboy homage to the genre than an audiovisual inquiry that takes us from Durango to Jalisco, and through DF and Monterrey, in an effort to understand what makes these wordsmiths tick. Along the way we’re introduced to some of Mexico’s most original and authentic voices, including Mexico City battle rappers like Lobo Estepario or the poetically-inclined Jalisco rapper Manotas, all of whom reflect on their relationship with language and their own personal history with the culture. The final result is packaged in an attractive cinematic style that only a true veteran of the medium like Terrazas could bring to the subject.

Somos lengua is currently playing across the Americas as part of the Ambulante, the traveling documentary film festival.

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