The early- to mid-2000s found Fonovisa Records and its sister label, Univision Records, (both part of the Univision Music Group) signing a lot of Latino rappers and paying closer attention to the Spanish-language rap market. Both labels continued to focus heavily on regional Mexican music, but hip-hop, one could say, became an important side project for Fonovisa and Univision -- and this 53-minute compilation takes a look at some of the Spanish-speaking MCs who have recorded for the Univision Music Group in the 21st century. One thing you won't find on Hip-Hop Explicito is reggaetón, an infectious, dancehall-influenced style of Spanish-language rap that has been especially popular among Caribbean Latinos (Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and Cubans) since the '90s. Reggaetón, for all its popularity, isn't the last word on Spanish-language rap -- there are numerous Latino MCs in Latin America, Spain, and parts of the United States who aren't reggaetón -- and much of Hip-Hop Explicito is devoted to what Latin labels are now calling "urban regional", which is hip-hop or urban contemporary performed by Mexicans. In fact, most of the MCs heard on this 2005 release are of Mexican descent, including David Rolas, Locura Terminal, Kinto Sol, Akwid, and Kalimen. But there are exceptions; Crooked Stilo is a Salvadoran group, while Enemigo is Puerto Rican. Of course, a Salvadoran accent isn't radically different from a Mexican accent, and Enemigo himself has pointed out that while he isn't "urban regional", he isn't reggaetón, either. Hip-Hop Explicito isn't the last word on Spanish-speaking MCs who recorded for Fonovisa or Univision Records in the early- or mid-2000s -- there is nothing by Jae-P, for example -- but it still offers a generally enjoyable (if a tad uneven) taste of non-reggaetón MCs' contributions to rap en español.
Review by Alex Henderson