Aztlan Underground are a Los Angeles-based sextet that combine hard rock force, hip hop grooves, and indigenous traditional (Mexican) music and instrumentation with other musical elements, creating a unique sound that falls somewhere between the kitchen sink stew of Ozomatli and the furious rap-rock of Rage Against the Machine. Coming together in the early 1990s, members Chenek (a.k.a. Bean; turntables, samples, and percussion), Yaortl (vocals, indigenous percussion), Joe (a.k.a. Peps; bass, rattles), Zo (guitars), Ace (drums, indigenous percussion), and Bulldog (vocals, flute) use their music as a platform for their socially conscious and unapologetically political messages, preaching “dignity for indigenous people, humanity, and Mother Earth.” Singing and rapping in both English and Spanish (Spanglish), the band is unafraid to tackle such topics as drive-by shootings, police brutality, and the plight of the Zapatistas.
Aztlan Underground’s message and music have earned them a grass roots following and a reputation as an exciting and intense live act, leading to opening gigs with such diverse, high profile bands as Run-DMC (featured in a Pay-Per-View Special), Fishbone, Cypress Hill, Mack 10, and the aforementioned RATM and Ozomatli. The band has released two albums on San Fernando-based Xicano Records & Film, and the latest, 1999’s Sub-Verses, saw them nominated for Bam Magazine’s 1999 “Best Rock en Español” award and LA Weekly’s 1999 “Best Hip Hop” award. Their music has also been featured in Pepe Urquijo’s independent film Algun Dia, and the band appeared and performed in the documentary Frontierlandia.
-- Julio Diaz
Julio Diaz is the Music Editor for Ink 19, the largest music magazine in the Southeast US, and the third largest regional magazine in the country. He is the former Webmaster of The Florida Ska Web Page! and the former Vice President of A&R and Marketing for Citrus Records. His work has also been published in Focus magzine and translated into French for Dig It! magazine.