When music listeners think of Oakland, California names like Digital Underground, Tony! Toni! Toné!, Sly Stone, Green Day and Souls of Mischief are some quickly conjured up in the minds of pop culture brats. Not many who are deemed to be of a mainstream mindset would think of a musical duo comprised of Panamanian nationals; whose gritty and infectious offerings to the masses fuse the genres of hip-hop, r&b, dance hall reggae and reggaeton would hail from such a place. But then again some of the previously mentioned musical acts were never intended to cater to conventional audiences and managed to have crossover success. The very same case can be made for another group to come out of Bump City known to its legions of fans as Los Rakas.
Ever since cousins Raka Rich and Raka Dun (pronounced “Doon”) formed their group in 2006 they’ve enjoyed a steady stream of success while catering to a broad audience. In the past the duo has played Snoop Dogg’s Smoke Out Festival. In addition to this they launched their own record label, Soy Raka in order to further their musical efforts. Recently Los Rakas’ music has been featured on FX’s ‘Sons of Anarchy’ and HBO Latino’s ‘Sr. Ávila, 1ª Temporada.’ The two also won Complex Magazine’s “Blank Canvas Project” beating out fellow rapper Joell Ortiz. By winning the fan-driven contest, which was sponsored by Modelo Especial and Puma, Raka Rich and Raka Dun became the first independent artists to have their logo on a major brand sneaker. However, the tide of accolades has ceased to end for the performers.
Earlier this month the young men took to New York to do press with Sway Calloway on his Sirius XM Radio show and at Miss Lily’s Variety prior to performing at a sold out show in Webster Hall. The trip was part of a touring effort to build up momentum for one of their most ambitious efforts yet, an album comprised of two discs called “El Negrito Dun Dun & Ricardo” slated to be released this summer. Already the group has a hit single with the song “No Tan Listo” which comes as no surprise to Raka Nation.
“We’re just trying to inspire other people where we come from”, Raka Rich told those in attendance at Miss Lily’s. “Our mission is to be legit and be a team. The reason why the upper class is doing their thing and not falling off is because they unite and they keep the money between them. We need to start doing the same thing.” It’s plain to see that the group, whose name is deemed a derogatory word in their native Panama, has not only embraced this train of thought but it is on full display via all their achievements thus far.
The upcoming two-disc offering is said to be big departure from the previous releases issued by the pair. “This one right here is a mix of all our CD’s put together”, Raka Dun Dun stated. According to the group the new release also promises to have a different sound and subject matter leaning towards a mature audience. “He (Raka Dun) has live instrumentation on his side”, Raka Rich shared with listeners. “My side it was something different because my friend had made some beats for another artist. I liked them and it was something that I never hopped on before. Me as an artist I like to challenge myself and see if I can pull something off to these beats. And I did it and it came out nice!”
As for New York City area fans looking to maintain a healthy fix of Los Rakas have no worries. The group will return July 10th to play Central Park’s Summerstage. The event will include performances by Fat Joe and Cuarto Poder.