I first met Victor and Johnny Lopez, the brothers who make up Crooked Stilo back in my days at the Univision Records label; though they were repped in PR by my buddy Mariluz Gonzalez on the Fonovisa Records side of the Univision Music Group House. It was in the exciting year of 2004 when we were exploring uncharted territory in a new West Coast movement baptized as the Urban Regional Movement. It was a style of music that fused Regional Mexican music with the crazy, bumpin’ beats of general market Hip Hop, but en español! The leaders of the pack at the time was AKWID (brothers Sergio and Francisco Gomez), closely followed by Jae-P and Crooked Stilo.
However, what made Crooked Stilo stand out and really shine was the cultural mix they brought to the table: they weren’t Mexican! Crooked Stilo brought a Central American sensibility, a middle ground if you will, that neither Akwid nor the East Coast Hip Hop artists of the Reggaeton movement were addressing, and that was the tropical rhythms of merengue and cumbia fused with Hip Hop, puro guanaco!
While Akwid went on to great commercial success, their sound stopped evolving and the Gomez brothers truly missed the boat that Reggaeton had anchored as their underlying sound: dance music. So, East Coast “tsunamied” the West Coast artists and basically made their sound the norm of a thriving bilingual generation waiting for a movement to call their own.
So, fast forward to 2011, and the underdogs of a movement now defunct, in their constant refinement and polishing of their sound and style present their latest bilingual production Los Titulares! Undoubtedly, Victor and Johnny are like fine wine, in this case, some fine ass Salvadoran wine. In this new album, Crooked Stilo serves in a silver platter a hot collection of collaborations and fused rhythms that range from cumbia sonidera in perhaps one of the hottest tracks of the album, Cumbia Chueca featuring legendary Celso Piña, to the crazy merengue beats in El Pupusiao featuring Tony Haze. Nonetheless, the Lopez brothers flip it and reverse it in hot straight bilingual Hip Hop tracks such as Rolling featuring Young Tune, We Run This Game featuring Akwid, and Hush.
Gems you can’t miss are the singles Egoista and the opening track Caramba, a fast paced, fun and up tempo dance beat a la Pitbull with a splash of LMFAO, definitely not to be missed. It will be at the House of Blues’ Foundation Room where the guys will be launching this new album and premiering the video for Caramba on Friday, November 18, 2011.
So, whoever said West Coast Latin Hip Hop was dead, has had their head buried in the ground, because Crooked Stilo has been working non stop ever since I left the label in 2005, and has been redefining and polishing their sound in every album they’ve launched since those early years. Los Titulares is a fitting name for this album, because in 2011, they are hands down the lead and starring figures of Latin Hip Hop outside of the tired Reggaeton cookie cutter artists from the East Coast.
Crooked Stilo rules and in my opinion are the new kings of West Coast Latin Hip Hop! If you like a good rumba and fiesta, then Los Titulares should be in your party repertoire; end of story.