I had no idea what to expect when I was invited to cover Red Bulls “Tapped In” show with master of ceremonies and host Cypress Moreno. The show was held at the legendary Mayan Theater downtown LA. The show promised to deliver both Latin and underground hip hop music, in a West Coast revival of the originally underground movement.
The show delivered the absolute flavor of an underground scene the second you walked into the gorgeous Mayan Theater. Without any expectations, the first thing that comes to mind is that tickets were sold without any major intersection billboards, and without any network commercials. When my photographer and I arrived there was already a line around the block.
The stage set was dramatic. The mood was created with rich colors of blues and reds. Each performers set was introduced by producer, recording artist and host Cypress Moreno. Moreno is a 24 year old DJ from LA, but received his education from the University of Arizona. His introductions were pre recorded footage that was projected on gigantic floor to ceiling monitors. In the video’s, Cypress was in a ski mask, wearing a clown nose, looking like something out of a horror movie. It was interesting, and more colorful than the usual introductions.
For 5 hours, Cypress Moreno would first give his scary ski mask pre recorded introduction, followed by a performance by the artist, followed by a set with Cypress himself. The lineup had 8 artists and Moreno. The show started with DJ Gabe C. The first thing he said to the audience was “Come up to the front!” and they did! Lots of media cameras were flashing from every side of the DJ booth. His music was chill, no angry fast talking rap in his opening set. The crowd had smiling faces, people were glad to meet friends there, handshakes and hugs were doled out as more people moved closer to the stage. There was no gang attire, no sagging jeans, no bald heads and no 3X T shirts to be seen.
The second performer was La Goony Chonga. She really stole the show. She was the only female on the lineup. She is an all natural beauty that wore a skin tight batik blue two piece outfit, with 6 inch clear lucite stripper platforms. Her hair was slicked back tight with a massive ponytail of curly hair down to her waist. She performed solely, ruling the stage. Her set started with a hip hop sound that slowly but surely eased into a Reggaeton latin sound. It was smooth! Her voice, layered with effect had a supernatural sound to it, almost ghostly. The fans knew her lyrics in both Spanish and english, and rapped verses along with her. La Goony Chonga has a completely unique bilingual delivery only found in American performers. When her Latina dance moves and Reggaeton vibe filled the sound system, the crowd went crazy for her! Originally from Miami, La Goony Chonga is living in LA and working on her 4th LP.
Cypress Moreno participated with every guest, and then the scary clown nose and ski mask introduction video would appear again larger than life on the monitors introducing the next act. N7 & PWAP performed a set with 1970’s Chuck Norris Videos playing behind them providing a solid performance, followed by a collaboration with Cypress Moreno.
Houston’s Latin rapper Doeman came on next. The self proclaimed “Barrio God” prides his rap for having relevant lyrics as opposed to rapping about monetary possessions. His performance was chuck full of the term “Mother ******.” Cypress Moreno joined him on stage wearing a hoodie asking the crowd, “Is South Central in the house?”
The next performer “Feefa” born and raised in South Central LA is of Salvadoran descent. His trap sound is a mix of the music he grew up with, merengue, and hip hop. Feefa connected with the audience calling them “Beautiful,” and said “There is no LA without Latinos!” By this time the Mayan was wall to wall packed.
The rest of the evening was like a latin hip hop show of girls gone wild, except it was everyone! Everyone kept their clothes on, but it was wild. “Rose Grown” came on stage and invited the entire city to join them. The stage was packed with dudes, and super high energy.
The structure of the evening was fun with the scary ski mask and clown nose introductions, different DJs and Cypress Moreno collaborating with each guest. The show continued with both English and Spanish lyrics, and both hip hop, and Reggaeton rhythms. The crowd stayed happy and dancing.
Cypress Moreno has produced artists such as G Perico, Freddie Gibbs, Shoreline Mafia, and 03 Greedo. The night lineup in its entirety was N7 & PWAP, Kalan.Frfr, Bino Rideaux, Feefa, Doeman, and La Goony Chonga. Many of these artists are featured on Cypress Moreno’s new EP “ Tapped In” which is to be released this week. Moreno gave most of the spotlight to his guests throughout the night, but Moreno is at the forefront of the recent hip hop revival that is crossing the boundaries of English and Spanish languages.
What is different about this movement or revival as it’s being called? Moreno’s lyrics speak of his realities. His lyrics are not fiction, but this night was clearly different in many ways. The audience was a variety of both men and women, styles, race, and age. The energy of this show was high and happy. The anger was missing, but it was not missed. This show brought people together, it brought a sense of pride and community. Congratulations to all the upcoming stars on this show, and let’s not forget to thank Red Bull for supporting diverse music scenes and providing a platform for these artists.