La Plaza, Mister Cartoon and being Chicano in LA

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From KCRW DJ Raul Campos:

As the youngest of 7, and being the only sibling who was born and raised in LA, I take great pride in being Chicano and an Angeleno.  The family values that were instilled by my parents are how I live my life today and will always continue to be so.  And I’ve learned a lot from my older siblings, from music to history to being a decent human being.

In addition to the hand-me-down clothing, I also inherited a lot of music from my elders.  My sisters definitely schooled me on the classic pop, rock and traditional music from Mexico.  My oldest brother was a classic rock guy who turned me on to The Who, The Stones, Fleetwood Mac and countless others.  I loved cruising, sometimes racing around in his 68 GTO listening to his 8-tracks!  Fun times except when the cops pulled up behind us.

My closest brothers in age were into the hard rock from the 80’s.  This was my intro to Ozzy and Slayer….  Not my cup of tea, but all good when I look back in the grand scheme of things.  Being a child of the 70’s I was influenced by disco, then 80’s pop, dance and rap to the house and techno explosion of the 90’s.  So put it all together and what do you get?  A mix of new and old with a Latin sensibility.

Raul at La Plaza
Raul at La Plaza (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

As Mexican American, I enjoy bringing awareness of the culture to masses.  I think every little bit helps in making Los Angeles a better place.

Speaking of, this past Saturday, I had the honor of being the first performer on the stage at the brand new museum for Mexican American culture, La Plaza de Cultura y Artes.  The black tie inaugural gala in honor of Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina (who was one of the greatest advocates for the museum) was jam-packed and attended by Los Angeles movers and shakers, including Mayor Antonio Villariagosa, La Opinion’s Monica Lozano, Mun2’s Flavio Morales and many others.

Normally, I’m not too keen on being the first one on stage, but this was special.  The long overdue museum will be hosting some fantastic cultural events in the future, so christening the stage was truly meaningful!  Later in the evening, the entertainment headed towards the portion of Main street that was closed off for a sit-down dinner and performances from Ceci Bastida, Julieta Venegas and up-and-comers La Santa Cecilia, who closed it out by turning it into a big ol’ Mexican dance party.  The cumbias began to pump and, before you knew it, the “washing machines” were spinning til the late hours!

Raul with Gloria Molina
Raul with Gloria Molina (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

It really meant a great deal to be a part of this.

Another highlight recently was sitting down with Mexican American street artist and LA native Mister Cartoon for his Guest DJ Project set.  He’s one of those guys that’s made it.  He came out of the hood and succeeded in doing what he loves and is passionate about.  His street art and tattoos are on display at countless museums, cars all over the world and skin canvases everywhere!  I’ve followed his work for years, from the various record covers he’s done for bands like Cypress Hill, to murals on classic cars in various car shows all over the Southland and beyond.

I’ll never forget seeing the ice cream truck he airbrushed, sitting front and center at the Petersen museum.  The detail and workmanship is unmatched.  Even my father, who was a big car guy, couldn’t imagine the countless hours he must have spent on creating that masterpiece.  Sitting with people like this is truly inspiring —  not only did he never give up on his art, but his family values and his way of life make me proud to be a Latino.  I like how Cartoon sums up his attitude and drive: “Until the hubcaps fall off!”

Check his work at the current exhibit opening this weekend at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, “Art In The Streets” — it’s a celebration of street art and it’s recent surge in popularity. And hear his Guest DJ set here.
Now I’m off to the Empire Polo Fields in Indio, CA for Coachella 2011 and then to the big apple for this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in NY.  It’s my first stab at music supervisor.  The documentary, Revenge of the Electric Car will premiere on Earth Day to 2 sold out screenings.  It’s very exciting times.  A recap of that is soon to come.  Stay tuned….

— Raul Campos