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Hip-hop with a positive message
(L to R) R.e.a.p, Sabor Latino, Lee Evans, Gold Almum music award winner/producer (Photo courtesy: JAMBox Entertainment)

By Joshua Pilkington

Latino hip-hop now the norm

Latinos involvement in hip-hop is not a recent trend. The hip-hop genre has long had a Latino presence from West Coast based artists like Mellow Man Ace and Cyprus Hill to East Coast artists like Big Punisher and Pitbull, as well as Puerto Rico-based artists Vico C and Ruben DJ. Those Latino hip-hop pioneers have paved the way for what is now the fastest-growing music demographic in the industry: the Latino hip-hop fan.

The Bravo Group recently made it known and a marketing symposium in New York that recent trends show a 110 percent increase in young Latinos buying hip-hop records since the turn of the century. According to New York artist Sabor Latino, that can be both a blessing and a curse.

“If you’re a parent, you can understand where I’m coming from,” said the artist who released his debut ‘Observations of My Life Vol. 1’ on Feb. 28, 2013. “You want your kids to listen to music that’s fine. You want your kids to listen to hip-hop music that’s fine. But why not give them music with a positive message.”

Sabor Latino’s journey into the music industry is as uncommon as his social worker-turned rapper transition would suggest.

“Growing up in a tough neighborhood in Jamaica Queens, you see a lot of things,” he said. “I used to write down everything I saw. In high school I would write poems and I started to realize the power that words have, how they inspire people.”

Even after making that discovering, Sabor Latino chose not to pursue his passion for music and prose immediately.

“After high school, I wanted to release an album, but I felt like I was too young,” he said. “I didn’t have enough experience. So I went to college, graduated with a Bachelor’s in Psychology and Education and became social worker.”

It was as a social worker that Sabor Latino said he really began to see where change needed to occur.

“I saw so many different things and started putting those in my music,” he said. “Seeing what foster kids go through, the abandonment, the abuse, I realized that a positive message is a necessity.”

With that Sabor Latino began putting those observations to music. He managed to get into Manhattan-based JAMBOX Entertainment and Recording Studios to record the album and 20-year music industry veteran Lee Evans to master it.

“The album has been well-received,” said Sabor Latino regarding ‘Observations of My Life Vol. 1’. “A lot of people have started to recognize what Sabor Latino is trying to do.”

When asked why he opted for Spanish rather than English for the album’s language of choice, Sabor Latino said he wanted it to hit home.

“There aren’t enough leaders in our community,” he said. “If I’m going to do an album, I’m going to do it in a positive way. I want to inspire communities.”

Some of that inspiration can be heard in songs like “No Mas Violencia”, “Presidente” and “Padres y Madres,” the latter of which speaks to something Sabor Latino witnessed regularly as a social worker.

“It talks about how parents are working and working and yes we need the money and yes we need to provide, but we have to devote attention to our kids,” he said. “If we don’t, the streets will be more than happy to take care of them.”

To listen to ‘Observations of My Life Vol. 1’ visit

Local Connection

Combining the traditional accordion and horns section of their south of the border roots, 20:12 (MMXII) is a Denver-based hip-hop duo that uses their music as a political call to action.

Integrating both English and Spanish lyrics into their songs, while mixing various genres into their particular style of hip hop, 20:12 took first place in the 2011 edition of La Raza’s Got Talent competition with their single ‘Por Aquí, Por Allá’ and have since toured the country with artists like Akwid, Don Omar, Los Super Reyes and Kid Frost.

For more information, visit





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