Hip Hop Headz talk about love and keepin' it real in Chi-Town
By Osvaldo del Valle
We all recognize them when we go out to clubs, or when we drive down the main streets of our barrios. They come tall and short, light skinned and dark skinned. They wear baggy jeans, hoodies, baseball caps, ski caps, boots, the latest kicks, moustaches, goatees, and they always have that mean, rugged "don't mess with me" look. They're the B-boys, Hip Hop headz, Cholos (though somewhat different from B-boys)-those guys in the neighborhood we've all lusted for and had one and one thousand fantasies about. Those guys who at the clubs stand tall, strong, steadfast, and act like they can care less that they are there. They know you're looking at them. They know you want to come up to them. They know you want them. Yet, they keep their cool. What would it be like to have one of them? Well, ask yourselves this, "What is it like to be one of them?" It is hard enough being QV and Latino, but what about if you're into Hip Hop music, graffiti, lowrider cars, supped up Toyotas, break dancing (believe it or not, it's on a come back) and chillin' with the boys from around the way? What if 90% of your friends are straight and you had to be in the closet? I assembled four Latino Hip Hop headz for this candid interview on what it is like to be themselves.
"You can't be QV. You're Mexican!" was the response Rodolfo (last names withheld) got from his older brother when he came out to him last summer. The stereotype that Rodolfo, a 22-year-old living in Chicago, received from his brother was that being QV was a white and black phenomenon. Latinos cannot be QV, if you will. So what about Latinos that are QV and are Hip Hop headz?
As Latinos, we all know that there are different types of Latinos: fashion queens, preppy queens, rancheros and yes, even cholos and B-boys. So why the hype? Why is it that we often times cannot conceive the idea of Latinos who are QV and at the same time, gang bangers, cholos, or B-boys? We see them in the clubs, and we might even go up to them and ask, "Are you QV? Do you want to dance?" But why do many of us hold up cholos and B-boys as the ultimate "prize" to win? B-boys see themselves no different from anyone else. In fact, some B-boys hate the way other Latinos view them.
"Hey Papi, how about going back to my place? I got some weed and coke. We can go back to my place for a good time," was how Efrain, a 19-year-old QV Puerto Rican B-boy, described how one older Latino man approached him. "I don't even drink or smoke!" Efrain responded. "Guys take one look at me and think I'm some drug dealing and using gang banger from the barrio." Efrain continued, "I am tough. Growing up in Humboldt Park, you have to be that way-survival of the fittest and shit. I know I look like a gang banger to them, but I am not. I consider myself a Hip Hop head, not no stupid gang banger. The problem is these idiotas can't tell the difference."
For Latino B-boys, they often times see themselves stuck between two cultures. The urban-Latino-barrio-hip-hop culture that they grew up in and the Latino culture that they try to embrace. "The problem is how do we keep it real, make them (the Latino QV community) respect and understand us, and finally find our own place in the world?" stated Chino, a 26-year-old QV B-boy "veterano." "Everybody wants a B-boy," Chino continued, "Somebody to show off to their friends and to make ex-boyfriends jealous with-but definitely not to take home to moms."
Is it hard to find love?
According to Rodolfo, the first B-boy who agreed to be interviewed, "Yes." He says that guys (Latinos as well as whites) often times see him as someone they have always wanted to get-a challenge even. They want a big muscular B-boy to show them the time of their lives, inferring that B-boys or even Cholos are incapable of love or being in a committed relationship. He admits that there are B-boys out there that are "players looking to get theirs and that's it." Yet, there are a great many more who are no different than any one else.
"For me, it is hard finding other Latinos or even Black Hip Hop headz out there. I want somebody like me. I've tried dating other types of guys, but it never works out. I need somebody who's into the Wu-Tang Clan, Tribe Called Quest, the Beatnutz, and stuff like that-somebody who grew up in the hood and knows what's up," said Danny, a 21-year-old, six foot tall, Salvadoran/Puerto Rican trigueño.
They (B-Boys and Cholos) realize that it is hard for anyone to find love and hard to find that "right" person, but according to them, it is often times more difficult for them to find the right person because they want somebody like themselves. In the QV community, their numbers are few and far between.
Is it hard being a Latino B-boy?
As stated earlier, Hip Hop headz not only find themselves few and far between, but often find themselves struggling with friends, family, and dating. "I can't say what it is like in New York City or Los Angeles, but here in Chi-town, it is hard," stated Rodrigo, a 22-year-old half Chileno-half Uruguayan B-boy. "I've been to New York, and there are mad B-boy brothaz everywhere! They're like a dime a dozen on the forreal!" He chuckles, "I should move out there."
"For me, it's like this...," stated Efrain. "I'm a 19-year-old brothah, who's 'been QV' [open] for two years now, who's in college, in the closet to my family and boys. I sometimes have to go out with girls on dates to keep my two brothers and friends from suspecting about me. I go out to QV clubs with my fake ID. I meet guys who only want to kick it for the night, which sometimes is cool with me. And I seem to be a magnet [giggle] for locas. B-Boys come out on the scene rarely. Most of the Hip Hop headz I know who 'swing' never go near any QV clubs. It's too risky. They don't want to be clocked QV."
The problem B-boys or Cholos feel is that there is a stigma with being a QV B-boy or Cholo. According to them, the rest of the Latino community inflates them to be a bunch of Don Juan's-lovers who are great sex partners, have nine-inch uncut penises, are great kissers, are extremely overpossessive, and are jealous lovers who will beat you up if you try to leave them. This stereotype is often times over exaggerated, leaving them struggling to find committed relationships. "Everybody expects us to look like Greek gods and (to be) covered with tattoos under our baggy clothes. I know I don't have the best body. Sometimes, I can see the disappointment on their faces," stated Chino.
Why are you a Hip Hop Head and not something else?
"Like what?" Efrain asked. "I am who I am period."
"I believe that we came out the way we are-that is B-boys and Cholos-because we are products of our environment. Living in the barrio and growing up in these streets is what made us who we are. We are not preppy because we don't want to be. We are who we are because that is how our environment molded us to be. The fact that we are all QV has nothing to do with who we are as Cholos, B-boys, Hip Hop headz, or whatever you want to call us," stated Rodolfo.
"Like Rudy said, we are who we are because of the music we listen to, the people we hang out with, the culture that we grew up on-which is an urban, Latino Hip Hop culture," continued Danny.
Can Hip Hop headz fall in love?
"Yo, I'm just trying to keep it real, and in the process, find a papi chulo to settle down with... and hell yeah...falling in love will make it more buttahz!" concluded Chino.