Chicano wordsmith Counter intelligence

2Mex brings cultural awareness straight from the LA underground

An emcee by any other name: Underground hero 2Mex now answers to the moniker SonGodSuns.

When he was 13 years old, Alex Ocaña secretly scribbled rhymes and quietly longed to be an emcee. Four years later, he publicly picked up the mic under the name 2Mex, and today at age 32 is probably one of the most prominent Chicano wordsmiths you've never heard.

A native of East LA, Ocaña currently performs under the moniker SonGodSuns, behind his latest solo LP Over the Counter Culture. He honed his skills in L.A.'s legendary Good Life Cafe, which also spawned heavyweights like Aceyalone, Medusa, Freestyle Fellowship, Dilated Peoples, and Jurassic 5. As a member of crews such as Of Mexican Descent, Mindclouders, and the much heralded Visionaries, Ocaña has toured extensively throughout Europe, Japan, Cuba, and now San Anto.

Current: What was it like to come up during the whole Good Life Café scene, which has become almost mythical in its influence on the underground?

2Mex: To be honest with you, Xolo Lan Xinxo and myself went in there already with songs and concepts. We already had something actually going, but when we saw the talent there we were just blown away like, 'Oh my God, this is crazy.'

I was definitely influenced by the stage presence. Jurassic 5 had a crazy stage presence. You basically had three minutes and you had to do a show. It taught you how to perform while being booed. It taught you how to be quick on your feet. It was really a crazy training ground.

Current: I know you are currently going by SonGodSuns, but can you shed some light on how you came up with the name 2Mex?

2Mex: We were sitting on the bus one day trying to come up with a name for our crew of friends. My friend Memo, who passed away in 2000, was like, 'We should all call ourselves 2Mex, like we're too Mexican, we're too down for our people!' We were like 15, 16 years old. I was like, 'Yeah, that's fresh.'

So that day I went to the swap meet and got a hat that said 2Mex all in Mexican colors. I got to school the next day before anybody even knew the name of the crew. That was around the time I kind of first started telling people I wanted to rap, so people just started calling me 2Mex.

In Los Angeles and everywhere I go I run into Mexican people that are rhyming.
- 2mex

Current: Where do you think Latinos, particularly Mexicanos, fit in hip-hop today?

2Mex: The first role of Mexican hip-hop, Chicano hip-hop like Kid Frost and Lighter Shade of Brown and all that kind of stuff was more smoke and party laden and it was cool. I think there was a big gap, and now you have a Chicano gangsta rap scene that's all up and down California and the Southwest. But there's a healthy underground scene.

In Los Angeles and everywhere I go I run into Mexican people that are rhyming. They listen to other kinds of music and they're not necessarily trying to be in that box of what's traditional, and I think that's great. Our whole concept is we love Roger and Zapp and we love this and that, but we're not going to use it because it's just cliché. We want our stuff to bump, but there's other ways. I think there's a lot of really talented Mexican producers and emcees that people just don't know about all over the country. I don't know where we sit, but we obviously sit somewhere in the niche. It just needs the correct exposure I guess.

Current: In 2001, you released you released the album B-Boys in Occupied Mexico. Where do political concepts like Chicanismo and Aztlan fit into your music?

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2Mex: They weigh into my lifestyle, so they definitely weigh into the music. One thing I've been noticing is that just depending on the year and on what you're doing and what's happening in your life, as far as writing it down and actually being in my music, it varies.

In 1998, 1999, I was home all year. I was just writing and writing, and watching TV and being upset and angry with my angst. I was doing a lot of protesting and stuff like that and I wrote this record with Mindclouders, Taking It Till You Make It and some of B-Boys. Then a couple of years later I was on the road a lot or in love a lot, so it's a record like the 2Mex record or even some of this new one, where there's a lot of love songs.

Politics is way heavy in my life. As far as it being in the music, it's on and off. It depends on what's going on, but it weighs heavy in my mind. I can't say that I'm listening to NPR day-to-day trying to figure things out because it can get to be too much at times. I waver in and out right now, but it's definitely, constantly in my heart and on my mind.

By M. Solis


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