Urban Latino: The Atlanta Hitman

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Georgia was not always the Dirty South mecca that it is today. Just ask DJ Mafioso, real name David Rodriguez, one of Atlanta’s kings in underground hip-hop. The ATL titan build a reputation for creating ill mixes of hip-hop and Latin; he even mixes in poetry from greats like Willie Perdomo. Born in Corona, Queens to Dominican immigrants, the DJ moved to Atlanta when he was 10. “It was like going from the city go the complete boondocks,” he said. “It was a whole other world.”

He described the landscape as a mix of red dirt, hills, mountains and trees, far different from his stoop back in Corona. In New York there were all types of people. but, in Georgia, you were either white or black, “I used to catch stares like crazy,” Mafioso remembers. “People used to always come up to me like, ‘Are you white or black, man? Oh, you must be mixed, but got that good hair.’” Being away from home made him appreciate the Latino culture and encouraged him to represent who he was, to the fullest. Music was always a part of DJ Mafioso’s life mostly because his mother played it for any occasion. “She washed dishes to it, cleaned the house to it, and danced to it,” he said. “It was no big deal.” Seeing her happiness just listening to music was what inspired DJ Mafioso the most. “It didn’t matter how broke we were, she would put a record, and peace was restored,” he says.

Being away from New York made Rodriguez yearn for things from home. He would get his cousins to send him the latest mix tapes growing up, Rodriguez said that DJs were more respected because they were the ones who got to hear music first. It was tough being the new kid in town and, at first, he resisted Atlanta and everyone in it, “In my opinion, back then if it wasn’t from New York it was garbage. Now over time, Atlanta has become my home.”

It started out very simply. The Rodriguez family had a record player for parties and a good collection of music. Rodriguez would practice scratching and even mixing his own mix tapes to make a sound that was all his own, before long, DJ became engrossed in his music.

“I would save up my lunch money for the week, and every Friday my mom would go grocery shopping, and I would come home with a new joint,” he recalls. Rodriguez started to DJ when he was 12 and ended up blowing tape decks and breaking turntables, because he practiced so much. Annual trips to visit family in Miami also taught Rodriguez about other genres in music. Miami is where he learned all about booty, freestyle, and house. He had a cousin who had his entire room filled with music. Rodriguez used to take some of his music since he has so much of it, and his cousin unknowingly gave him a start in becoming a DJ. “From an early start, I always took my samples from Latin classics,” he said. “It was kind of my way to teach the youth about our roots.”

Almost two decades later, Rodriguez has continued to leave his Latin legacy through his innovative mixes of hip-hop and Spanish tracks. Playing music as a DJ is not the only thing Rodriguez has done. He has his own studio, his own equipment-repair business, and holds a “regular” job. He has also completed several internships in studios around the ATL including Outkast’s. he has fulfilled his definition of hip-hop: making something from nothing.

While some hip-hop heads have their opinions of Dirty South rap, Rodriguez argues that even rapping about “Cadillacs and hoes” is hip-hop. He argues that they did the same thing that the pioneers in New York did. They rapped about what they knew, but they did it in their own country-fried style. “The South has stayed true to its culture,” Rodriguez said. “They never tried to put on a fake accent to try fit into a mold.” The La Bodega Vol. 1 CD showcase Rodriguez’s own evolution. “When I was little, it seemed that the ultimate in accomplished was having your own bodega,” Rodriguez says. “So this piece represents a true accomplishment for me. The fruits are my rhythms and my beats. This represents my music, on sale, available for everyone to enjoy.”

–Ashley Cisneros
Ashley Cisneros is a co-founder of Chatter Buzz Media, an Orlando Internet marketing firm that helps companies and organizations engage with their target markets through inbound marketing via the Internet. Chatter Buzz Media, which won the Social Madness competition for the Orlando small business market, is a full-service digital marketing firm specializing in website design, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing and content creation. Prior to founding Chatter Buzz, Ashley worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, technical writer, marketing manager, public relations practitioner and freelance journalist. To see Ashley’s content writing, visit www.ashleycisneros.com. You can also reach Ashley on her Google profile.

By | 2017-04-28T07:32:48+00:00 July 15th, 2003|Categories: Blog, Samples|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

About the Author:

Ashley Cisneros Mejia is a journalist, entrepreneur and marketer. She began her career as a newspaper reporter and later as an editor at Florida Trend business magazine. Ashley has worked as a professional freelance writer since 2009, as a technical writer, marketing manager, and public relations practitioner. She also founded two digital marketing agencies in Orlando. Named one of Orlando’s 40 Under 40 and honored by the Women’s Executive Council of Orlando for achievements in media and communications, Ashley earned a B.S. in Journalism and an M.S. in Entrepreneurship at the University of Florida.

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