Photos: Andrés Quintero
Thank you hermano for your availability in answering some of our questions, we really appreciate it. First of all we would like to know, since you were born and raised in Caracas (Venezuela), how did you approach the Hip-Hop culture and what was the scene like in your city when you were a kid? Can you help us get an idea of what Hip-Hop was like in Caracas and how it is right now?
I was born and raised in Caracas and spent all of my adolescence and most of my 20s living in Maracay (2 hours by car from the Capital District). In the constant coming and going between both cities, I came across the inevitable presence of Caracas graffiti, skateboarding and breaking. It was the first thing that interested me about street culture that had been growing in the late 90’s in different spots in the city. Some cousins and childhood friends also showed that interest and naturally we began to investigate and experiment in these artistic expressions.
As time went by, I transferred this information to my closest environment, old friends from my area, we formed several crews of writers, at the same time I met Dann Niggaz, Afromak, Ceniza, b-boy Salo, among other cultural figures from Aragua, as well little by little, along with the rollers and skateboarders from Maracay, a couple of decades ago; We began to shape the Hip-Hop culture of Maracay, the city where I learned to rap, paint, dance and that I represent in this movement since day one.
What were the main steps of your career that led you to be one of the most solid underground rap realities of Venezuela and of the Latin American continent?
Being part of Supremacy HHC, having mentors like Dann (pioneer of the HH of Maracay) and Afromak (legendary Venezuelan beatmaker) formed my criteria as a listener, having them as an example during my beginnings in rap, gave me the necessary discipline to undertake seriously and a lot of responsibility my own path.
Since my first projects, the objective has been to acquire knowledge and share it through the message, fortunately it has had an impact in my city, then throughout the country and crossed borders and the rest is history… today I live grateful for that fact.
Lil’ Supa, Lou Fresco and Marc Ginale are all names you use. What’s the story behind them? Are they also related to graffiti?
We are characters, we all learned to be like that doing some art: hip-hop it’s not different from that, from the graphic designer to the producer, including the host of an event, those who do beat boxing, graffiti writers, etc.
We constantly live in the construction of an ‘alter ego’ that helps us channel our emotions and of course the imagination or idealization we have of ourselves. In my case, as a lover of the seventh art, I have found meaning in the development of characters through writing, the creation of different ways of doing my work, which keeps me from getting bored with myself.
It becomes therapeutic in a certain way, rediscovering myself through reinvention and thus giving a different character to each project, just like a film; whether it is an action or psychological thriller or science fiction or based on real events as the case may be. This is how you find that the Lil Supa’ that did Simplemente Underground between 2002/2004 evolved in the MADZILLA project (2009) but is not so similar to the Lou Fresco who wrote the album SERIO (2017) or the Marc Ginale of projects like C.R.A.C.K or YEYO and is very different from the NEØN that appears in the middle of a global pandemic.
Hip-Hop is an infinite form of freedom of expression and I use its tools, such as rap, or beats or videos, to find myself, recognize myself and not repeat myself.
In fact from your music, videos and social media it seems you are also heavily influenced by graffiti culture: Are you or did you take part in graffiti and if you do, with which tag name do you use and with which crew did you take part?
I will always consider myself a graffiti writer, whether I am actively on the street or not, my friends and my HH family will always accompany me because they are part of my essence.
I am the founder of the UPA/WOW crew of Maracay, where I started as a writer, I have been part of the CMS since 2004 and the Caribes collective.
What can you tell us about the graff writing scene in Caracas? Are graffiti widespread and how are they considered by the Venezuelan people and society?
Caracas graffiti is one of the elements (if not the most) important in the creation, union, dissemination and evolution of hip-hop in Venezuela. As at the beginning of every transgressive movement, in its beginnings it was persecuted and criminalized, but over time, the development and internationalization of its protagonists, it has acquired the respect it deserves.
“Metal”, one of your latest Rap projects, made along with Nichess One & 3M5, was one of the international Rap projects that we enjoyed the most this year. Can you tell us more about this project? How was it born and what is the concept behind it?
METAL is a project that draws on three previous albums: EL BLOKE / YEYO / DISPAROS), its immediate musical predecessors, came to establish the Latin American dirty sound or the so-called ‘Latin grimey’, which has been going strong thanks to beatmakers like Doktor Rheal & Castellanos.
The word METAL has different meanings depending on the context in which it is said in different parts of South America, in our case it represents wealth, violence, power, union, solidity, fight, victory… That is what we are, the alloy of various elements that form a all.
Other than Metal, what do you think are your most important and significant albums and why?
I have been fortunate to belong to and participate in several important collective albums in the history of Latin rap, in addition to METAL, the list must be WORLDWIDE – El Dojo (2019), ÍNDIGOS – CAN+ZOO (2008), BAS.Y. CO (2006), Uanteik – MADZILLA (2009), Da’ Hiphopaddictz – Supremacy HHC (2012), FUNKY FRESCO (2020).
In my solo career, I have been able to contribute to the narrative of Hispanic hip-hop, my only two full-length albums to date, which are: SERIO (2017) and YEYO (2022).
Can you tell us more about life and streets in Venezuela? How does Hip-Hop culture affect them from your point of view?
Venezuela has been in constant change for the last 20 years due to its socio-political situation that naturally influences the character of the demonstrations of its inhabitants, who are still in the country and who have emigrated.
It affects us all in different ways, to give a simple example:
Graffiti writers have had to solve with different techniques, tools and residual pigments in addition to spray to be able to continue expressing on the street due to the high cost of cans, as well as them, all of them, those who make a living from or in hip hop culture have overcome different circumstances to survive in a movement that does not guarantee any type of economic stability.
Beyond that, the new generations now see as an example of perseverance, resistance and improvement, the work of those who today have managed to transcend with their work and have achieved that Venezuelan rap is respected throughout the world.
And, instead, how the Venezuelan streets and their reality have influenced your music and your life too?
Having been residing in Venezuela throughout my life and having the opportunity to travel and get to know other cultures from which I have undoubtedly been immersed and have learned infinitely, has only further embraced my origins, knowing where I belong and has generated In me there is an insatiable need to proudly spread my origins and make my Venezuelan identity known throughout the world.
What new musical projects are you working on and which artists are you collaborating with or would you like to collaborate in the future? And why?
I am currently working on a ‘tribute’ project to one of my first characters, Lil Supa. In addition, I have had the opportunity to collaborate on different international productions, such as: “Sin Cortar” by Dj Muggs 🇺🇸 and Crimeapple 🇨🇴 , “LEGEND” by Jonás Sanche 🇨🇱, “El Hombre hace planes, Dios se ríe“ by Dano 🇪🇸, I appear on “Underground King 3” by Recognize Ali 🇺🇸, in addition to the next album by Raz Fresco 🇨🇦, among others who are about to leave.
You have also toured several countries in the world if we’re not wrong you have also been in Italy, correct? Where have you been, for what reasons and what mainly dazzled you?
In 2017 I was invited to a rap festival organized by the Peruvian community in Milan. Since then I have only gone to Italy to visit or for tourism, always wanting to return.