Dro Fé Tackles Borderland Politics on ‘Narcowave 3’ Mixtape

Lead Photo: Photo by Itzel Alejandra Martinez for Remezcla
Photo by Itzel Alejandra Martinez for Remezcla
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In this current hip-hop environment of Atlanta-inspired trap dominating the charts and influencing the overall sound of the industry, it hasn’t been easy for Latino MCs to make an impact. The glory days of 90s New York rap are behind us, one of the only eras in which American-based raza left a notable mark. However, with so many Latinos growing up and/or immigrating to the South, and borderland politics becoming the street cred topic du jour (El Chapo is basically the modern-day, real life Tony Montana at this point), an opportunity has once again emerged for Latinos to take over.

Dro Fé resided for awhile in Atlanta (after moving from his childhood home of Rio Grande Valley, Texas and before moving to Los Angeles), and his sound is undeniably influenced by the Southern region’s sensibilities. Fé’s latest Narcowave 3 (named after earlier mixtapes as well as his streetwear brand) is produced almost entirely by local hero Sonny Digital, with assistance from Ear Drummers’ DJ Fu, among others. It includes the previously released tracks “Re-Up” featuring 21 Savage and “Boom Boom” featuring Maxo Kream. Both songs stand as an accurate representation of what the rest of the seven-track tape sounds like. There are hi-hats, snares, and moody piano and keyboards galore throughout the set, which Dro plays well off of with his gravelly tone.

The tape opens with “Barcode,” which contains a sample of a Latin rhythm and a smattering of Spanglish lyrics that firmly emphasize that Dro’s experience is influenced by living on the border and the drug trade. “Birdtalk,” meanwhile, is built around a simple, catchy hook that evokes Gorilla Zoe’s “Hood Nigga.” To close out the set, Dro and Bodega Bamz deliver a Narcowave/Tanboys crossover on “First or Last.” Having previously collaborated on the Bamz-led Tanboys mixtape last year, the two MCs show their chemistry, trading verses with the familiar trap flow.

Like Kap G, Dro is concerned primarily with providing a voice for Latinos in the current rap landscape. By enlisting trap maestros like Digital and flaunting his Chicano identity in his rhymes, Dro succeeds at crafting something that has both a universal sound and a unique perspective.