George Ramirez is a twenty-two year old rapper from College Park, GA. The Mexican-American performs as Kap G and has been signed to Atlantic Records since the age of eighteen upon his graduation from high school. Pharrell Williams helped produced his penultimate mixtape entitled Like A Mexican (2014), which created a buzz around the new boy on the Atlanta rap scene.
Following suit, Pharrell also mentored Kap G on his most recent mixtape El Southside (2016); allegedly offering him any beat/instrumental he desired at no charge, and stating that he believes that he is “the future” of hip-hop.
Kap G has already made a name for himself, performing his first sold-out show at The House of Blues in Dallas, TX on January 25 of this year. His upcoming album will be more star-studded than most freshman records as he collaborates with Chris Brown and Quavo for the project.
Ramirez’ hometown of College Park constitutes as part of the Atlanta Metropolitan Area. With the city’s population being more than eighty percent black and just fewer than seven percent Hispanic, it is no surprise that Kap G articulates his rhymes using his native Southern drawl Ebonics.
Prior to his birth, his family were located in Los Angeles. Kap G recognises that had his family have stayed in LA, he would have grown up as a Cali-Mexican “with the dickies, long socks, chucks, and bandana”. With most Latin hip-hop artists emerging from either NYC or LA, an ATL born Mexican definitely shakes the status quo.
Lyrically charged like most rappers representing the Dirty South division of the genre, Kap G’s main themes are racial profiling, Mexican culture, and migration. It is hugely important that Kap G raps in a Spanglish hybrid in order to: firstly remind listeners of the significance of Latin voices in hip hop and our presence since its origin out of the Bronx, and secondly to personify the issues that he raps about.
Although Cypress Hill, Delinquent Habits, Fat Joe, NORE, Kid Frost, Big Pun, and ALT would occasionally rap in Spanish, it was Yellow Man Ace (AKA: The Brother with two Tongues), who made it a regular habit, and in turn, brought Latin struggles to the foreground most effectively.
Kap G is the bilingual communicator that this generation of hiphop lacks. Migration struggles and cultural genocide are prominent on Ramirez’ agenda and although his lyrics are interspersed with light-hearted Mexican references to ease tension, this tactic is merely the sugar that coats an earnest tale.
The fourth track from the Migo Work (2015) mixtape is “Honest” and has all the characteristics of a Dirty South record. The track opens with what could almost be a vocal overture due to the lengthy falsetto chanting and singing. Its lack of necessity is soon forgiven as listeners are introduced to the piano accompaniment that features again in the stripped-back bridge and final verse.
The production is simple but effective with a five-note (F#, G#, A, D, C#) melodic motif recurring throughout in F# minor whilst two two-tone sound effects loop, reminiscing sirens… No explanation needed for the inclusion of the latter.
Kap G’s most successful single to date has been “Girlfriend” from El Southside (2016). With more than eleven million views on Youtube, this track drastically surpassed his mixtape predecessors and gained him artist recognition. Despite the online attention, “Girlfriend” did not make it onto the Billboard Hot 100 chart or the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop chart.
Stripping the track back at times to no more than Kap G singing / rapping with instrumental accompaniment means that the melody and harmony can be appreciated. The simple vocal melody and repetitive nature makes the track memorable and facilitates breaking into the mainstream.
The most polemic track in Ramirez’ catalogue could potentially be “F**k La Policia” which raised alarm for the same reasons that N.W.A.’s “F**k Da Police” did. The steel drum sounding motif featured in the intro works as a recurring hook throughout whilst the cleverly syncopated percussion claps push the track to new polyrhythmic heights.
“Mexico Momma Came From” was produced by Durdy Beats and was released as part of the aforementioned Like a Mexican mixtape. If there were to be one track to encapsulate Kap G as an artist, it would be this one. With cheeky lyrics such as “Mexican candy… f**k skittles” and “Aztec in my blood vessels”, his Mexican pride shines through.
The track features two styles that alternate throughout: the first sounding reminiscent of a slowed-down mariachi brass melody and the second of a treble heavy hip hop track, albeit featuring melodic hooks from the first style.
One of Kap G’s darker tracks, “José Got Them Tacos” reflects Latino gangster culture and discretely describes life in the trap via code words like “taco” among other references.
The inclusion of the staccato G# in a G minor track creates the necessary dissonance needed to keep our ears on alert. With bass drones, a haunting piano motif, and polyphony created through electronic strings and vocal calls, this track represents Atlanta trap music to a T.
Words by Olga Maher