Nuestra Vida

David Rolas

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Nuestra Vida Review

by Alex Henderson

Nuestra Vida is a rarity -- an album by a Los Angeles-based Chicano rapper that is dominated by Spanish lyrics. The fact that David Rolas is a Mexican-American rapper doesn't make him unique; Chicanos have been down with hip-hop for a long time, and any serious, in-depth discussion of West Coast rap should include some mention of talented Chicano MCs like Proper Dos, Lighter Shade of Brown, tha Mexakinz, and Kid Frost (the first important Mexican-American rapper). But while those MCs have rapped in English more than Spanish, Nuestra Vida contains mostly Spanish lyrics. Rapping in mostly or all Spanish is hardly uncommon in Latin America or Spain, but it's a rarity in L.A. (where most Chicano rappers provide a limited amount of Spanish lyrics because they don't want to frighten away non-Spanish-speaking listeners). So when you add all of these things up, Nuestra Vida is refreshingly unorthodox -- it can't be totally lumped in with the recordings of Kid Frost, Proper Dos or tha Mexakinz any more than it can be lumped in with hip-hop recordings from Mexico. This CD is also quite visionary; musically, Nuestra Vida ("Our Life" in English) draws on both G-funk and regional Mexican music -- an unusual combination -- and Rolas comes across as someone who knows what's it's like to live in a neighborhood where you're likely to hear Lola Beltrán one minute, and Snoop Dogg the next. Lyrically, Rolas takes an in-depth look at the ups and downs of Mexican-American life in Southern California. Parts of the album are humorous (in a Cheech & Chong kind of way), and some of Rolas' social commentary is downright poignant. "Mi Suerte Cambiará," for example, is about hope; in Spanish, that title means "my luck will change," and the song describes the need to work for a better future no matter how challenging the present might be. Both musically and lyrically, Rolas brings something fresh and exciting to West Coast rap on this excellent CD.

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