Flakiss

Asi Soy

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Although English still dominates hip-hop in the United States -- at least outside of Latino neighborhoods -- rap is a very global phenomenon that be found in a variety of countries in a variety of languages. There are Prague-based MCs who rap in Czech exclusively; there are rappers in Tokyo and Osaka who flow in nothing but Japanese. And in Barcelona, hip-hop can be heard in either Spanish or Catalan. But whatever the country or the language, rap remains a very male-dominated idiom -- and while there are numerous Mexican-American rappers in the southwestern part of the United States, only a minority of them are female. One of the West Coast's rare examples of a bilingual Chicana rapper is Flakiss, whose second album, Así Soy ("That's How I Am"), is dominated by Spanish lyrics but offers some English-language material as well. The California native makes her share of pop moves on this 2005 release, but not in a bubblegum way. While Así Soy is pop-rap, it isn't mindless fluff -- and Flakiss tackles some social issues, including domestic violence, poverty, crime, and the challenges of being a madre soltera (single mother). Flakiss isn't saying that the absence of dads in many urban households is a good thing -- one doesn't have to be a far-right fundamentalist neo-con to realize that in most cases, a kid is much better off being raised by two parents instead of one (a fact that Public Enemy's Chuck D has stressed). That said, Flakiss is telling madres solteras that despite the challenges and difficulties they face, their lives aren't hopeless. In terms of rapping skills, Flakiss doesn't have the technique of, say, Eve or Queen Latifah. But she gets her points across -- and while Así Soy is mildly uneven, it's a generally decent sophomore effort from the Chicana rapper.

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