Enter the Game

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When the New York-based Mean Machine put a Puerto Rican spin on hip-hop with 1981's "Disco Dreams," West Coast Chicanos weren't far behind -- a few years later, Mexican-American rappers were popping up all over the West Coast. Over the years, Chicano MCs have ranged from pop-rappers to hardcore rappers like tha Mexakinz, Lighter Shade of Brown, and Cypress Hill; on his debut album, Enter the Game, Mosko demonstrates that he identifies with the grittier, more hardcore side of West Coast rap. The Mexican-American rapper is from Compton, CA, the infamous area of Los Angeles County that gave listeners N.W.A., DJ Quik, and Compton's Most Wanted (among others). But instead of flowing exactly like African-American MCs, Mosko proudly acknowledges his Latino heritage and occasionally raps in Spanish (specifically, Chicano slang). What Mosko does on this 2002 release is hardly unprecedented -- Mexican-Americans have been providing hardcore rap since the '80s. But while Enter the Game isn't groundbreaking, it is well executed; most of the time, Mosko's hard-hitting accounts of urban life are solid. It is important to note that even though Mosko is bilingual, English lyrics dominate this CD -- at least 95 percent of the lyrics are in English rather than Spanish. Why doesn't Mosko rap in Spanish more often? Perhaps he doesn't want to risk scaring away non-Spanish-speaking listeners. Of course, there are plenty of MCs in Latin America and Spain who rap in Spanish exclusively. But those artists, unlike Mosko, are catering to listeners who speak Spanish as their primary language. And unlike a hip-hopper who might be representing Mexico City, Madrid, or Buenos Aires, Mosko is representing Compton on this decent, noteworthy debut.

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