Chicago's Own Navarro Aspires to Be Latinos' Voice in Hip-Hop

 Photos by Julian Carr

Photos by Julian Carr

“I want to be able to be the person who can make people proud of their Latino culture, and know they can do whatever they want”. 

Navarro (formerly known as Scheme) responded to what his motivations were behind his new project carrying many elements of his Latino culture in it. While the hip-hop community anxiously awaits this month for Navarro’s first new album in a few years, the moments in his time away from rap helped sharpen his creativity in other areas. 

“As an artist you have to be selfish a little bit. Back in the day, I was practicing music 24/7, then I had a daughter and the responsibilities added. I didn’t want to half ass being a musician or a father, I always do everything at 100% so I knew I needed a break from music.” Being a father became Navarro’s priority, but he still found other creative outlets in his downtime. The result was becoming a first time author publishing his book entitled Ni De Aqui, Ni Di Alla, which translates to “Not From Here, Or From There”. 

The book somewhat summarized everything Navarro artistically created over his career to that point, containing lyrics from released and unreleased music, photos taken at studio sessions, shows and more. “I’ve always been wordy with raps so that sometimes people wanted to read it. I had a stacks of notebooks of raps, so I took the songs that meant a lot to me and placed them throughout it. The book was an extension of finding out how to reach fans in different way.” 

He also developed his after school program “Beats and Bars”, a program within the city teaching high schoolers aspects of the music industry.  “I’m an author, rapper , and can teach people how to make music. Sometimes we [musicians] don’t see the value in our talents because we didn’t go to school for it but it is very valuable.” With all these diverse experiences and events in his life, this time setup Navarro for the creation of his next project.
 

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Those keeping up with Navarro know he has been experimenting with interchanging his raps in Spanish and English. This method shined on his song “Chicano”, where he details his struggles growing up as a minority in America. “When I put out ‘Chicano’ I was wondering if people would get it because nobody had told that type of story before. Then MTV jams hit me up to air it because one of the guys there was a son of an immigrant and it resonated with him so much that wanted it to be aired publicly. That’s when I realized it was everybody’s story.” 

Shortly after the release Navarro saw more fans spring up not only locally but also globally as people from Mexico and Latin America started sharing his music and reaching out. “The fact that people listened to it globally resonated with me a lot. Telling the stories about the Latino community is the main reason I rap and they need to be told in hip-hop. It’s a story that a lot of us come from and not many people are saying it.” 

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Luckily, his new project and future ones will carry these elements heavily. “The first project will be in English but second one will be in Spanish. Spanish and English rapping has always come natural. I don’t sit down to make music in just Spanish or vice versa, it depends on the story.” The purpose of Modern Mexican Art: Radio Sonido is to make a project that truly shows who I am.” According to Navarro, the upcoming album will be straight hip-hop, bringing his fans back to what they expect from him with supreme bars, lyrics, and flows. Modern Mexican Art is actually a 3 part series of albums, the first one diving into what makes Navarro himself.

He gave us a sample of what to expect with the single “Mexican Connect”, where he raps about various topics from America’s current state to calling out people impersonating Mexican Drug Dealers all over a hard hitting beat. “I needed a break to grow and learn how to be more a better rapper and this album shows that. I wanted to get this album out of my system and prove to myself that I could still make quality music. If you rock with me you’ll like this and I’m gonna continue putting out this music [for the fans].”

Along with the bars and the beats, Navarro promises to bring the artistic side of hip-hop to the forefront with the help of local artists. “I love the colors of Mexican art and I saw a lot of artists/homies putting out amazing work and wanted to connect with them. My album is taking the elements of the culture I grew up with (rap music) and the culture that influenced me at home(art). I’m trying to tie in the art and rap all in one and package it together for my fans.”
 
As for the future following his release in a few days, Navarro wants to continue to expand his Beats and Bars after school program, making it a non-profit and offering it in different schools. As well as performing at live shows more often, “I want to do more music and more shows. I love performing live and plan to start doing shows again on a consistent basis." Whether you’re a long time fan or first time listener, expect honesty when it comes to Navarro’s music. “I make honest music and its hip-hop music at its core. I believe I’m technically a good rapper and you’re gonna hear stories you haven’t heard on other projects. I’m a dude who can rap and can tell relatable stories [for the listener]”. With this mindset and long term vision, the future looks even brighter as Navarro steps into the next chapter in his career.