2Mex, B Boys in Occupied Mexico (2001)
2Mex’s B Boys in Occupied Mexico is, in his own parlance, “humble in the style of the day.” You will not see 2Mex on the cover of a magazine any time soon, except maybe Mean Street, a LA monthly magazine put out by his own label. You may see his records in the cut-out bins at Amoeba Records, rejected by DJs who couldn’t figure out how to beat match it with Jay-Z’s “Girls, Girls, Girls.” Musically, the album crackles with strong, percussive funk breaks and energetic rapping. But 2Mex’s style is hard to pin down. His rhymes are almost too simple and direct, like when he announces on “Ghost Writer” that he’s from Los Angeles, “Where everybody’s a supermodel/With a heavy body and a stupid motto.” Ironically, 2Mex’s punchy approach lies in contrast to the rest of his peers, exemplified by groups like the Shape Shifters and the Anticon collective, that pack their songs with bizarre lyrics spoken in an annoyingly monotone voice. He tends to rap atonally, too, but his blustery enthusiasm is palpable here, providing a good contrast to driving tracks like the aptly named “Percussion Precaution.” The combination of DIY musicianship and willful emceeing demonstrates why he and his respective crews (Mindclouders, Visionaries, Of Mexican Descent) draw hundreds of equally smart aleck teenagers to his concerts. Still, there are those who, having grown weary of 2Mex and his peers’ rapid-fire rap style, have suggested they are better at rocking shows than making records. They are lying. B Boys in Occupied Mexico suggests that these musicians are finally learning to leaven their attempts at creating perplexingly knotted music reflective of their multi-ethnic, multi-cultural existences with strong, hook-filled material.