Raw-G (Gina Madrid)
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Raw-G (Gina Madrid)

Oakland, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2016 | INDIE

Oakland, California, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2016
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"EXCLUSIVE: Meet Latina Fighting For Immigrants Rights"

Born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico, Gina Madrid, aka Raw-G, learned English by translating hip-hop lyrics from Public Enemy, The Fugees and Tupac from English to Spanish. "I didn’t know what they were saying, but something about the music, the way they were expressing themselves, resonated with me. I wanted to know, so when I translated it, I realized they were rapping in English what I was writing poems about in Spanish," the 32-year-old poet-turned-rapper told Latina.


Today, Madrid, who moved to the U.S. in 1999 to give her son, Hugo, a better life, is an Oakland-based rapper and promoter producing music not unlike her earliest influencers. The rapera, a founding member of Guadalajara’s all-women pioneering hip-hop crews, Mujeres Trabajando, tackles topics of state violence, immigration, racism and sexism, among other socially conscious issues and raw experiences relevant to Guadalajara and west-central California.

With her new EP, titled Esperanza, out, Madrid talked with Latina about being a Latina in hip-hop, why she raps on social justice issues and her message to mujeres hoping to make it in male-dominated fields.

When did you first get into hip-hop?

I started in Mexico. At 12, I was writing poetry, mostly about the political issues that were surrounding me. By 15, I migrated from poems to raps, with my biggest influence being La Otra EscoriaI, a local group. When I started, I didn’t know hip-hop was a culture or a movement; I was just passionate about it. I clearly wasn’t the person that "belonged," but hip-hop made me realize it was good to be different. It allowed me speak my mind in a creative way.
Why do socially conscious rap?

In Mexico, we know that our government is corrupt. So for me to grow up in Mexico, my mentality was: "Why is this happening? Why are we going through this? Why isn’t this being solved?" That’s what inspired me to write. We need to see what’s going on around the world, so we can solve these problems and reveal things being hidden. By expressing that through lyrics, through song, I’m doing my part as an artist, an activist and a person. Music talks to people, young and old; they listen more when you’re doing it in an artistic way.

You’ve rapped with some pretty incredible emcees, people like KRS-One, Mobb Deep, Ghostface Killah, Blackalicious, Ana Tijoux and La Mala Rodriguez, among others. Tell me what that was like for you.

I grew up listening to KRS-One, so when I was on stage next to him, I remember looking at the crowd and thinking that’s where I was supposed to be, on the other side of the stage. It was a trip. The whole thing was so unreal. When you’re working so hard, you don’t see the changes. But then something like that happens and you’re forced to see it, that the hard work is paying off.

You just dropped your latest EP, Esperanza. Tell us about that and your favorite tracks.

Esperanza, which is Spanish for hope, is a project of hope to immigrants and people of color in underserving communities. Like my other work, it features distinct cross-cultural, multi-lingual and politically charged hip-hop. It’s aggressive, it’s raw and the people are really responding to it.

Hip-hop has a history of relegating women to video vixens, not artists. What was it like for you pursuing rap as a woman, a Latina, a recent immigrant and a mother?

This needs to change. The voices of women are important in every career and field, even in hip-hop. We have a valuable perspective and story to share with people. But barriers still do exist, and these circumstances have made it hard for me. It’s so much more difficult for me to put out a studio album or to perform. When booking shows, they’ll shut you down without a manager. I had to become my own manager and create my own company, Steelo Entertainment, in order to market myself and be taken seriously. I’ve had to force doors open when they were trying to be slammed in my face. I was doing all of this while being a mother, while working 9-to-5 at my job, while trying to maintain that job despite being discriminated against, being forced to do more work than my colleagues and without health insurance.

But I feel like my son gave me the strength that I needed to do everything. He inspired me to push beyond the obstacles. I was living in a closet with my son and my partner, so my mentality was: I have to get out of this. He’s why, after work and after taking care of him, I’d write rhymes and make singles.

What is your message to other Latinas struggling to make it in male-dominated fields?

PLUS: EXCLUSIVE: Meet Hip-Hop’s Next Big Thing Nitty Scott, MC

Never stop following your dreams. There is always a possibility for everything you want to achieve. It’s a matter of not giving up. Don’t take me wrong, people will want to shut you down, but that’s life. You just need to stay centered with yourself and your dream, and nothing will stop you.

And Raw-G practices what she raps about. All profits from her EP Esperanza go to Oakland Internation High School, an educational institution that targets newly arrived immigrants. - Latina Magazine


"Raw-G's Sangre Songs"

With hushed, prayer-like delivery, Oakland rapper Raw-G looks at the basics in "Sangre." A highlight from her first album, Esperanza, the track does away with her usual intricate lyricism and complex production in favor of a distilled sound that befits her subject matter: blood. The word sangre, or blood, recurs as an opening murmur to lines in the first verse. Threaded through a supple melody hummed by collaborator Nikila, Raw-G (aka Gina Madrid) raps in both English and Spanish about how blood flows in everyone. The lyrics exude a sense of the sacred: We pray let our people breathe/We pray for our people to survive under the flames.

Madrid's lean flow on Esperanza foregrounds her fierce politics. Topics include poetic voice, structural violence, and peaceful rebellion. In her hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico, Madrid discovered hip-hop through tracks in English, which she couldn't understand at the time. Regardless, she felt determined to master it. In Mujeres Trabajando — an international women's hip-hop collective founded by her homegirl Ximbo — Madrid met likeminded MCs, found support, and blossomed as an artist in her own right.

Esperanza, which means, "hope," is Madrid's middle name. "My father named me Esperanza saying I was his last hope," she said. "Obviously I wasn't his last hope because then my little brother came after me and then my other little brother so it's like, okay there's more hope coming up here."

Madrid moved to Oakland at the age of sixteen, just before the birth of her son, and with very little knowledge of English. The title of Esperanza reflects her struggle as a Latina immigrant and her ability to repeatedly make light of difficult experiences. When she began looking for a job a couple years ago, Madrid came across two signs in a new restaurant on Grand Avenue. One advertised in English for a managerial position, and the other a call for dishwashers in Spanish. "That was like, really, you're separating it like that?" she said, shaking her head. Ultimately, Madrid found work as a manager and a talent buyer at Parish Entertainment Group. This year, she finished building a recording studio.

Meanwhile, Madrid also toiled as a community organizer. "I've always been very strong about the [topic of] immigration," she said. At Beyond Dreams — an event focused on the artistic contributions of immigrants that she recently co-hosted at La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley — one account in particular stood out to her. A panel participant recalled an encounter with the police in which he was jailed and threatened with deportation. "Whether you're illegal or not," observed Madrid, "[you're aware] of what's gonna happen if you get stopped. You know we're treated differently just because of race."

The absurd and arbitrary nature of national borders clearly frustrates Madrid, who hasn't returned to Mexico for almost seventeen years since she came to the United States. "We're people, we're just tryna survive," she said. "When you have a family and you can't see them because of all these walls. ... It doesn't seem human." For that reason, proceeds from Esperanza are benefiting Oakland International School, which serves newly immigrated children, many of whom arrive without their parents.

Moving beyond divisive walls in "We Are One," Madrid and local singer Naima Shalhoub set breathy, leisurely phrases against a saxophone backdrop. For Madrid, collaborating with her family and friends is an essential element of her process. Her son and his dad assisted with much of the production. Madrid's production company, Steelo Entertainment, acts as a booking agent for several of the artists featured on Esperanza. Madrid's independent demeanor is conveyed when she explains her reasons for establishing Steelo: "I hated to come to people and be like, "Can I perform? Can I do this, can I do that?' I just can't."

The final track and showstopper of Esperanza, "Ready," explodes with electric guitar riffs, scratches, and cymbals, birthing an alternative dimension to the album's sound. The track title comes from its closing phrase, Ready to fly, a repeated promise that Raw-G's first studio album will be one of many. Spitting like a chopper propeller, Madrid rises to her nom de plume, Raw-G, deepening her voice and adopting a rapid cadence. - East Bay Express


"Straight Outta Mexico- Oakland’s Raw G Catches Wreck"

Gina Madrid aka Raw G is a fixture in the Bay Area’s current Hip Hop scene who earned her stripes and position by doing what so many successful Bay artist have done before her, by grinding. In addition to being a dope emcee who has opened for everyone from KRS-One to Blackalicious to Ana Tijoux to Mobb Deep to name a few, Raw G also has her own promotion company called Steelo Entertainment. She learned early on, that opportunities arise when you create them and not sit back and wait.

Coming from Guadalajara, Mexico, Raw G is part of the first wave of pioneering emale emcees who laid down crucial ground work and opened doors for what has emerged to be a vibrant scene, south of the US border. There are scores of female emcees in Mexico who bring serious heat to the game. Artists like Jezzy P, Leazzy, Vicky C, Ximbo, Rabia Rivera Dayra Fyah and Nina Dioz to name a few.

Mujeres TrabajandoMany of these women including Raw G and fellow local/ Oakland emcee Aima the Dreamer are featured on a landmark compilation called Mujeres Trabajando which has morphed into a collective of the same name which translates to ‘Working Women’.

Raw G noted that Mujeres Trabajando has made major headway and as a promoter she has brought a number of the women from Mexico to the Bay Area to perform at jam packed shows.

Raw G never falls back and is forever hustling. The hard work has paid off.
Her new album Esperanza which means Hope is a masterpiece that reflects her evolution and love for Hip Hop culture. It also reflects her activism, as it speaks to important issues of social justice. All proceeds from her album are being donated to International High School which services the immigrant community in Oakland. The first single off the album Sangre which means blood sets the tone for the album.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UO_4VGRMz34

Recently Raw G kicked things off for the Blackalicious Show held at the Filmore in San Francisco. She came with a full band a incredible back up singers like; Naima Grace Shalhoub, Lila Rose and Emily Afton Moldenhauer all have their own solo careers. But that’s typical of Raw G, she’s all about trying to bring folks together to help get them exposure and additional shine. - HipHopandPolitics.Com


"Women Runnin It: Interview with Gina Madrid, aka Raw-G"

The latest installment of “Women Runnin It” features Gina Madrid, aka Raw-G. Madrid is the co-founder and director of Steelo Entertainment, a marketing, production and multimedia company, as well as part of the Parish Entertainment Group. She is also a veteran of the international hip-hop movement and a force to be reckoned with on the stage.

Born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico, Madrid first immigrated to the U.S. in 1999 with her husband Steelo Cesar and son Hugo and settled in Oakland. A founding member of the all-women collective, Mujeres Trabajando — one of Guadalajara’s pioneering hip-hop crews — she learned English by translating hip-hop lyrics from The Fugees, Tupac Shakur and KRS-One.
Her work as both an artist and promoter represents the social consciousness and raw heart of both Mexico and Oakland. The list of artists she has performed with includes Ghostface Killah, Mobb Deep, KRS-One, Gift of Gab, Ozomatli, Royce Da 5’9”, Ana Tijoux, La Mala and DJ Premier; Steelo Entertainment’s past shows have brought everyone from Chilean emcee Tijoux to Argentinian dancehall queen Alika to Blue Note jazz-soul singer Jose James to Oakland. Recently, Steelo Entertainment produced “Concert for Justice,” a benefit show for the family of Eric Garner hosted by his daughter Erica Garner, with guest speaker Wanda Johnson, mother of Oscar Grant.

Oakulture was able to catch up with this powerhouse producer and artist just as Raw-G’s musical career seems poised for another step. Her new music video “Sangre” (Blood) is a song, rap and prayer in both English and Spanish, which names and calls out the blood, tears and pain of people’s struggle for dignity, and the certain knowledge that our time is a coming. Be on the lookout for Raw-G’s new EP, which is due to be released this month.
***
Oakulture: What values do you bring to promotion and/or production and how do they impact your decision-making?
Gina Madrid: First of all, I love what I do. When you put love into what you do you’re simply giving your best which sets your mind to push your limits on every aspect. Bringing people together has been something I enjoy doing. And what’s better than through music? When it comes to making decisions it’s like anything else in life, I just follow my heart. That definitely makes the technical part less heavy.

Gina Madrid Oakulture 088
Oakulture: What’s exciting to you about Oakland culture right now?
Gina Madrid: Oakland has always had a very unique flavor but some people are just finding out now. Being in this city, seeing it grow, seeing it change is exciting to me. Unity and love is the core of the town. And I can say that no matter how many people move into Oakland, we definitely make sure the core stays intact. Thanks to all the artists, organizers, visionaries, activists and the people who really love and run this town.
Oakulture: What relationship is there between your artistic work and your promotional and production work?
Gina Madrid: Both are very connected, being an artist took me to start producing events. I didn’t like waiting to be asked to perform and felt the need of sharing my craft. That’s one of the reasons why I decided to co-found Steelo Entertainment and started producing The Oakland Lyricist Lounge where I found out how many of us really just need a platform and space to share, connect and support each other.
Oakulture: Tell me about your new music video, “Sangre.”
Gina Madrid: With everything that’s been going on in the world lately I just felt the need to say something. SANGRE is ‘us’ the people. Tired of the system, fighting for peace and change, fighting for justice, to end racism, not really just talking about the U.S. but the whole world. The people are fed up and hungry for a better life. As the last part of my song states ‘’No need of guns to shut the system down, the people soon will turn this world around.”

Oakulture: What approach or strategies do you use for creating and maintaining an inclusive space?
Gina Madrid: It’s not really a strategy. It’s mainly about the people, the Bay Area especially Oakland. When people come together it’s so diverse that one can’t help but feel welcome. On the production side it all starts by having the right vision from the beginning and the rest just flows naturally.
“Oakland has always had a very unique flavor but some people are just finding out now. Being in this city, seeing it grow, seeing it change is exciting to me. Unity and love is the core of the town. And I can say that no matter how many people move into Oakland, we definitely make sure the core stays intact.” – Gina Madrid


Oakulture: Role models? Who do you admire artistically and why?
Gina Madrid: That’s a big question. My list would go on forever.. But I can say artists who started with nothing but love and passion for what they do and set their minds to win regardless of the struggle. Those artists are a huge inspiration to me. Looking up to them helps me push even harder, dream bigger and stay focused.
Gina Madrid Oakulture 018

Oakulture: Who are your Oakland heroines?
Gina Madrid: I have love and respect for all my sisters in this city. And I hope to continue seeing the new generation of women expressing themselves through arts and sharing their voices and talent.

Oakulture: If you could book anyone, who would it be?
Gina Madrid: I would book more independent local artists. We gotta support our own.

Oakulture: Words to live by?
Gina Madrid: Always give your best and set your mind to win. Giving up is not an option.

Visit Gina Madrid at: www.raw-g.com - Oakulture


"Interview: Oakland Hip-Hop Artist Raw-G"

It is hard to believe that Raw-G and I live in the same city, considering just how difficult it was to connect in person. She is a woman who wears multiple hats. That being one of the most talented lyricists out of Oakland, juggling being a mom to an equally talented teenage son, and being an activist fighting for the rights of immigrants and local artists. And also fighting to keep the voice of the real Oakland alive.

When it was finally time to connect, I found what a hustler Raw-G is. I had the opportunity to chat with her as she is preparing to embark on back-to-back shows opening up for Mexican Cumbia legend Celso Piña and hip-hop artist Pato Machete.

SFSONIC: You moved from Guadalajara Mexico to Oakland, what was that change like culturally and musically?

Raw-GRaw-G: Moving here was really tough because I didn’t know any English. I moved here with my partner and my son. So to get the language down, to even get a job, it was a hassle. I didn’t get a chance to go to school because I was taking care of my son. But I learned English by translating hip-hop lyrics.

In terms of the music, I really didn’t know anyone here. I was writing either way. I was writing poems back in Mexico, and I continued writing once I was here. I started meeting more people and coming across more people who were involved in the hip-hop culture.

And it was actually in Oakland, at Mandela Arts Center which is closed now, but Mandela was the spot where people would organize freestyle battles, and dance battles. This is the spot where I started opening up to more people, and getting to know more artists. Honestly, this is the place where I got to meet more people and I continued to write. We didn’t have any equipment so it was really hard for me. I was literally broke, it wasn’t until we got our first computer, that’s how we started making music. And, we started putting singles out from the lyrics that I was writing back in the day.

After that I got more involved in the scene, I remember my first show was at La Peña, back in 2000-2001. I remember my son was two years old, and I remember him pulling on my pants when I was on stage. La Peña was another spot where I met a lot of people. I used to go to a lot a community events, and today I’m still doing the same thing. I get inspired by the community and the people around me.

SFSONIC: From all of the people that you’ve met in the music scene. Oakland is known for a heavy underground and mainstream music. Is there a particular artist, an Oakland artist that has influenced your music?

Raw-G: Honestly, there are so many people I admire, I mean Oakland is known for its character. It has so much character because of the artistry that exists in Oakland. I can’t name any one particular artist. I was influenced by so many, by their hustle, and seeing them push to be better lyricists, and do better in music. There’s a lot of sisters in the circle, like Aima The Dreamer. They all inspired me by seeing their passion in what they do, their hard work and expressing themselves through art. To me, that’s inspiration in general.

SFSONIC: You have worked with some great names out there like Anita Tijoux, La Mala, Ozomatli, you have worked with some heavy names. Is there one particular artist you would love to collaborate with?

Raw-G

Raw-G: You know what’s funny, a lot of people ask me that question when I do interviews. And, honestly I can go on with the list of artists I would love to collaborate with. When I think of music, I think of Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, so many artists. This is a really tough question that I haven’t been able to answer. I have worked with a lot of people that I really like. Ozomatli, love their music. Anita Tijoux I respect her work ethic, she is a great lyricist. I can go on and on, you know what I mean?
SFSONIC: Now, in the circle that you’re in, the hip-hop world… it’s dominated by men, but you as a female lyricist have left quite an impressive mark with everything you’ve done. But, what has been one of the most challenging obstacles that you’ve had to deal with?

Raw-G: I would say…just the fact that… honestly, when I think of a female rapper, it shouldn’t be about being a female or male, we are artists period. This is something I would like to scratch off as we go, because there are so many females in hip-hop. As a female I want to be respected as an artist, and not just because I’m a woman. I want to be respected as an artist regardless of gender, its straight business. My mentality has always been not that I want to be better than a male rapper or a female rapper. It has always been that I have to be sharp. It doesn’t matter if I’m on stage with ten women or ten men. I’m going for the best I can be. I do see how women are not respected in this circle. For every festival line-up, like HIERO DAY, how many men? And two women and only one is local. How is this even possible? There are so many talented women in hip-hop who are not recognized.

SFSONIC: Where do you see yourself in five years?

Raw-G: I see myself making more music. When I think about it, music is my passion is what I live for. If I had all the time in my hands, it is what I would be doing it 24/7. This is what I love to do, make music, organize events that matter. I produce and participate in events that have to do with immigration and social justice. Even if I’m not the producer, I like to participate because it is something I believe in. I see myself doing more of that, getting involved with the community, with the youth. I’d like to get more involved with schools, get involved in theater. My head goes crazy when I think of the things I want to do. I would love to do more work with Latinos, empower the youth, empower women, help teenagers who have been abused. That is where I see myself, shows are dope; I love performing and I enjoy it. But, I would love to do events where I make a difference for the community.

SFSONIC: Right now as you are mentioning the community, Oakland in general is going through a major economic and cultural shift. How much has that affected the music scene, especially for local artists like yourself?

Raw-G

Raw-G: Oh man, A LOT! Gentrification is real in Oakland and we are going through it hard. I feel like it has pushed out a lot of us, away from Oakland, and we are fighting against it. We’ve been having meetings and conversations to present to the City of Oakland, and advocate for the people. All of the development that is happening excludes local artists who are the ones who created Oakland in the first place. I would love to see more people get involved with what is happening, really get out of the house and see what is happening. Because, if we don’t go out, we are going to be pushed out within the next year or two. This is happening already. I got kicked out of my place, the rent went up two, three times. A lot of artists have been pushed out. And the City of Oakland talks about “affordable housing” and places for artists. But, there aren’t that many. These are the kind of conversations that I’ve been having with Oakland Creative Neighborhoods Coalition. This is about artists coming together, and having a conversation with the City of Oakland. A lot of our people have already been pushed out, and we are literally fighting to end this situation.


SFSONIC: Your son is an Oakland kid, born and raised. And he is seeing the changes, from the Oakland when he was growing up to the Oakland now. What is the one piece of advice that you have shared with him about what is like to be in the music industry?

Raw-G: My advice, not just in the music industry but in general, has always been, don’t ever, ever stop pushing for what you want to do. Don’t let anyone tell you that you CAN’T because you CAN. There’s always people who are going to try and bring you down, and try to get you away from what you want to achieve. And, as soon as your mind is set for what you want to go for, you are going to get there no matter what.

SFSONIC: Tell us about the shows that you have coming up this week?

Raw-GRaw-G: I’m actually really excited about the shows… funny thing – I was inspired by Control Machete living in Mexico. I’m performing with Celso Piña (el rey del acordeon), and hip-hop pioneer Pato Machete of Control Machete. My partner Steelo actually opened up for Control Machete back in 1996 at the Roxy in Guadalajara. And here we are, twenty years later; I’ll be sharing the stage with him. We’ll be at The New Parish on January 28th, at the RockBar in San Jose on the 29th, and in LA on the 30th.

SFSONIC: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us tonight. I know you’re busy getting ready for the shows. I’m excited to check out your set on Thursday at The New Parish. We’ll be there covering the show, and the review will follow on the SFSonic site.

Raw-G: Thank you so much! I appreciate it! See you on Thursday. - SF Sonic Magazine


"PART 4: ‘FROM THE SOUND UP’ INTERVIEW SERIES – RAW-G AKA GINA MADRID (MEXICO/OAKLAND)"

By LaJedi (for World Hip Hop Market)
Raw-G aka Gina Madrid is blazing stages in the Bay Area, and while Oakland, California is her home, Guadalajara City, Mexico was her birthplace.

A fiercely eloquent MC, there’s little doubt that Raw-G’s story-telling prowess is deeply tied to her heritage, and this artistic commitment is on full display with her rap crew Vomito Liriko.
Co-founded with fellow native-Mexican rhyme-styler MC Steelo, Vomito Liriko’s driving, fist-pumpin’ bass heavy production is certainly infectious, but what defines Vomito Liriko mostly is the duo’s piercingly honest lyricism.

(No less important is her work with the Mexico-based all-female hip-hop crew Mujeres Trabajando; her commitment to pushing cultural norms in Mexico proper. Peep interview below.)
From a young age, Raw-G began writing and rapping to express her personal experience as a young woman in Guadalajara, Mexico. Tupac Shakur, KRS-1 and The Fugees inspired her to learn English, and now, repping Mexico in Oakland (and worldwide), Raw-G prefers to flow in Mexican Spanish, finding audience within the large Spanish-speaking population of the Americas. (No doubt, Raw-G’s individual tone, rhythm, and sound speaks to everyone, regardless of any language barrier!)
As an advocate for women artists everywhere, this uber talented bi-lingual MC features regularly on panels and discussions that both celebrate and help define the role of the female in music, art, and community. Case in point was her presence at this year’s “Women In Hip Hop & Creative Arts” panel that took place at the Rock the School Bells Hip Hop Conference in March.

But the Bay Area is her stomping ground, and she’s shared the stage with globally recognized artists like the Ladies First Collective, Camp-Lo, Too Short, Ozomatli, Mobb Deep, KRS-1, Pharoahe Monch, Immortal Technique, and Dj Leydis. She’s scheduled to perform soon with French-Chilean revolutionary rapper, Ana Tijoux, whose been ripping up the mic for more than 10-years now!
Raw-G’s song Conexiones Subterraneas (Underground Connections) is being featured in the upcoming World Hip Hop Market and Nomadic Wax compilation –World Hip Hop Women: From The Sound Up (Editor’s note: Mixed by Dj LaJedi). Raw-G’s track is among 20 other global hip-hop tracks included in the project. (Stay tuned for the release date!)
As for the song itself, Underground Connections is about women’s empowerment and universal hip-hop unity – which she aptly breaks down in English verse:
It’s about time to prove and show the world how interwoven minds can cause fire/
underground connections, expanding intensity, credibility, expressing ups and downs,
tears and happiness, light and darkness through these verses/
a pure soul, pen, paper and rhymes have been the tools I need throughout my life.
Look at me directly and try to analyze what’s connected to my eyes/
It’s blood that had run though the city like a comet, it’s life narrated
by a female poet, the main goal is to NEVER STOP’.
Chorus::Now, just wake up,united women forces continues / stay alert/
connections of underground souls represent,
Now, just wake up.
The following is a World Hip Hop Market interview exclusive.

WHHM: You were born and raised in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. How did hip-hop culture emerge in your hometown? Who were some of the pioneers who defined the scene?
RAW-G: I got to be a part of the beginning of the hip-hop movement in Guadalajara. Hip-hop was the only outlet for us to express ourselves and stay away from trouble. It gave us a voice, even though there was only a few of us who were a part of the culture.
I remember the only way for us to get hip-hop music was from a few people selling bootlegged tapes, it was mainly a sharing situation, every time someone from the crew bought a tape, it was for all of us to listen to. We used to get together to write lyrics, practice break dance and do graffiti, I was one of the very few girls involved in the movement at that time. One of the first hip-hop crews was La Otra Escoria.
…Hip-hop in Mexico started the same way as many other places in the world – people felt oppressed by the system, and wanted freedom of expression.
WHHM: At some point, you felt the urge to jump in creatively- did any specific event lend motivation?
RAW-G: I had always like expressing myself through writing. I remember writing poems when I was in elementary school, listening to hip-hop and meeting the first Spanish hip-hop group back then, which inspired me to start writing rhymes and play with words.
But there was this particular personal experience that led me to write my first song – a song dedicated to my dad who passed away around that time. I learned from this song how much you could let go and move on if you just got things off your chest. It’s not that I’ve forgotten about my dad, but taking this approach helped me stay strong during the most difficult time in my life. Up to today, I have continued writing and growing within hip-hop culture.

WHHM: Oakland, California has been your homebase and workspace for some time… what inspired the international move?
RAW-G: Wanting to live a better life, and offer my son who was coming into this world the best life possible. I knew that Mexico was not going to make it easy for me. I’m not saying that living in Oakland has been easy, but coming here with a winning mentality had helped me get through life and every obstacle that has come my way.
WHHM: Vomito Liriko is Raw-G and Steelo. How do you describe the chemistry between you two artistically? Why does the collaboration work?
RAW-G: Steelo and I have been creating music together since we were in Mexico in (1995), and there had always been a great musical chemistry between us…there have been different names we’ve used as a crew. And about 2 years ago we decided to come up with a name that describes who we are and what we lyricly express, that’s when Vomito Liriko’ came up, which translates to ‘Lyrical Vomit’. That was just perfect for what we were trying to express.
WHHM: I read that your English language education was enhanced by 2Pac’s lyrics. Do you rap in English as well as Spanish? (If you do, why?)
Raw-G: Yes, translating lyrics from 2pac and many other rappers made learning the language a lot easier
I mainly rap in Spanish… I honestly don’t feel like I have all he words I need to express myself in English and feel very confident in Spanish.
WHHM: Recently, you shared the stage with Tha Teacha – KRS 1! I know that mic was hot! What did you learn?
Raw-G: Sharing the stage with KRS One was a huge honor for me. He is one of the first rappers I listened to when I got into Hip Hop. He has always been a big inspiration to me. So much to learn and take home with you when you listen to his words.
WHHM: Mujeres Trabajando is a Female Hip Hop Collective based in Mexico D.F., Mexico. These Ladies are Dj’s, M.C.’s, B-Girls and Graff Writers. What has been their influence on Hip Hop culture in Mexico since the creation of the crew in 2009?
Raw-G: There are girls from all over Mexico as part of the collective. I stay in Oakland now, and can’t really speak for the rest of the girls living there, but from my perspective as a member of the collective, I feel that Hip Hop brought us all together to support each other as artists and help each other grow within Hip Hop culture, music and art.
WHHM: You have expressed your intention to be a positive influence within your community. What do you see yourself contributing in 2012 and beyond? What should we look for from Raw-G, Vomito Liriko, Mujeres Trabajando?
Raw-G: Im currently organizing and helping other independent local musicians and visual artists through ‘Steelo Entertainment’ (which I co-founded & direct). We mainly do event production, booking, marketing & promotion to provide a platform to showcase music and art, both local and international.
I’m currently working on my solo album, which will be released this year. I’m doing collaborations with artists that I feel really inspired by. Vomito Liriko will be on hold for a minute even though Steelo and I are always working on music together. We are focusing on solo projects for now.
From Mujeres Trabajando what I’m shooting for is to start bringing some of the girls to the US, to promote Hip Hop at an International level. - World Hip Hop Market


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

Raw-G (Gina Madrid) Born and raised in Guadalajara Mexico.

She brings her own distinct cross-cultural, multi-lingual, politically charged Hip-Hop to the Bay Area music scene captivating audiences with her passionate and aggressive performances. Raw-G left Mexico and moved to Oakland California in 1999, where she learned english by translating Hip-Hop lyrics from 2pac, The Fugees, and KRS-1. 

Raw-G developed an engaging, insightful, social conscious flow that challenges our musical and gender preconceptions of Hip-Hop culture.

She has perform with artist such as Ghostface Killah, Mobb Deep, DJ Premier, KRS-One, Ozomatli, Royce Da 5’9, Ana Tojoux, La Mala to name a few. Raw-G is definitely one the most exciting new MC's to come out of Oakland California and an artist to keep an eye on. Her EP 'Esperanza' released July 14, 2015. This project contains collaborations with Gift Of Gab of Blackalicious, DJ Shadow, Lila Rose  and other Bay Area artists. 

"Her work as both an artist and promoter represents the social consciousness and raw heart of both Mexico and Oakland" Oakulture

 

Band Members