NYT's Favorite City
Rapping about tamales: Houston's Chingo Bling gives Mexican food street cred,garners national recognition
The New York Times is having a Houston music moment. After a piece on the continuing influence of the late DJ Screw a few months back, the Times recently produced a profile of Chingo Bling, whose over-the-top stereotypical persona epitomizes the other side of Houston hip-hop.
Bling, otherwise known as Pedro Herrera, may rap about tacos, tamales, his rooster and groupies, but he says what he wants to represent is the real life and work ethic of Mexican Americans.
According to the Times,
"Tamales and masa, their cornmeal base, may not have the street cred of drugs, but Chingo Bling has tried to do for them what Tony Montana did for cocaine. In songs like “Walk Like Cleto,” whose video opened with the street corner scene [where Chingo sells wrapped tamales from his car trunk using the imagery of a drug deal], he mockingly uses hip-hop’s swagger to urge respect for the hard work and home cooking that help Latin American immigrants survive in a hostile world."
DJ Screw might be inextricably linked with sizzurp, but ChingoBling is so associated with food themes (the Times also references the parody "Taco Shop," in which Chingo covers a video vixen in a bathtub with lettuce, cheddar, etc.) that he's actually in the food section.
A static character (some might say caricature) from the early 2000s, when Herrera started as a DJ and performer while attending Trinity University, Bling rarely appears without a black Stetson, cowboy boots, his grill of gems in a Mexican flag pattern and "a golden pendant that depicts a man, woman and chicken running across the border." Herrera is a natural promoter, (or "hustler," as he terms it) with his face on everything from salsa to bobbleheads to T-shirts, but some wonder where in his act playing a stereotype ends and subverting the stereotype begins.
“50 Cent wouldn’t sell hot sauce,” he said later as he scribbled lyrics on a napkin while preparing for a lip-sync performance on “Lánzate,” a morning variety show on the Univision network. “It’s not his thing, but I had to.”