Area is one of the biggest melting pots in the United States. People From all
over the world come here to live, work and travel. The Latin culture
specifically has been very influential in creating a presence in the city, especially
in the realm of music. There have been many talented artists that have come out
of the Bay Area and a Panamanian group by the name of Los Rakas can be added to
Rakas is a musical group that consists of two Panamanian cousins by the name of
Abdull Dominguez and Ricardo Giliam; however, their stage names are Raka Dun
and Raka Rich respectively. They currently reside in Oakland, California, which
is just right over the Bay Bridge from San Francisco. They are known for having
pioneered the whole Pan-American Bay twist here in the Bay Area. These two
artists grew up surrounded by music, which plays a huge part in Latin culture.
They started producing their own music and in 2006 debuted their first video “Mi
Barrio.” Los Rakas are a very versatile group as their lyricism consists of
Spanish, English, and sometimes a fusion of both, otherwise known as Spanglish.
The genre of music that Los Rakas produce would be considered a funky fresh mix
of old and new style hip-hop, reggae, plena and dancehall. With such a wide
range of genres and great musicality Los Rakas have an edge over other groups,
granting them with a diverse fan base from all age groups and backgrounds.
In this article
you will get the chance to dive into the lives of Raka Dun and Raka Rich. You
will see how they started, what has inspired them over the years, and what they
have planned for their future.
What was your first encounter
Dun: Always liked music, would sing his favorite songs and started making music
when he was 16 years old
Rich: Listened to music throughout his whole life. Listened to all genres of
music and started rapping when he was 15 years old
naturally built into these Panamanian cousins.
When did you know you wanted to
do be artists?
Dun: Seen a documentary on Cuban hip-hop and that was what inspired him
Rich: Tried rapping a few times, but he knew that he wanted to become an artist
the first time he recorded a song in 2003, “Gold in my Mouth.” Recording this
song only inspired him to record again and make the product ten times better
Did being an immigrant hold you
back from creating the music that you wanted due to the fear of being deported?
Dun: Being an immigrant never posed a problem to Raka Dun. He wrote what was in
his heart, whatever he felt and not caring what may have come of it. Being an
immigrant and an artist was never a problem because they were not
internationally known and never caused a problem to create the music that he
loves. There is nothing holding him back from creating the music that he was
meant to create, even if Los Rakas were known internationally it still would not
pose a threat to him and his music.
How has growing up in foster-care
impacted your outlook on life and how you incorporate it into your music?
Rich was in foster care when he was younger and looks at it as an experience
that has made him what he is today: a stronger individual due to these
experiences. Having lived through foster care Raka Rich feels as if he can
conquer any obstacle given to him by God. The way that Raka Rich has
incorporated being in foster care is through motivation to do better and strive
for the best, as well as giving hope to other kids and paving a path for them
was taken in by his Spanish high school teacher in Oakland, California, who
taught him a lot about himself, about what is means to be black and more
specifically what it means to be Afro-Latino in a city that was not exposed to a
large majority of such ethnic people.
Even though you are both
Panamanian cousins has there been a cultural clash between the two of you,
given that Raka Rich you were born here in the United States and Raka Dun you
were born in Panama?
up with the same culture and working as a group makes the process organic and
very smooth sailing. It allows them to interchange between their roots in
Panama and their roots in Oakland, understanding the struggle in both
locations. Having the same culture and values allowed for them to see eye to
eye when others did not agree with the decisions that they were making for
instance the language in which they produced music in or their group name.
Staying true to their culture and what they stand for has allowed them to
create “organic” music that all the fans can depend on to be authentic and not
what is considered to be streamlined in the mass media. “Music, you got to keep
Given that Rakataca has a
negative connotation, meaning ghetto in Panama, why choose to call yourself Los
of Rakataca: Ghetto, hood boys and girls
Dun and Raka Rich went through group names Los Rakas was just a brained stormed
idea that clicked automatically with Raka Dun as the official group name
without hesitation. Being a Rakataca was what they were, they came from the
streets of Panama and that is what is at the very core of their existence.
Although Rakataca is considered to be from the streets or ghetto it was
something that they no longer had access to now living in Oakland. The area of
Oakland in which Los Rakas lived had many similarities in the sense that it too
was considered the streets or ghetto. With living in a familiar area, to them
they wanted to represent their Panamanian roots in Oakland and take on the
stereotype of Rakataca because that is staying true to who they are.
taking on the group name Los Rakas, they have now changed the meaning of
Rakataca, now meaning someone who is proud of where they come from. They have
started a movement for the Panamanian people. Los Rakas have changed the
negative connotation of Rakataca to being proud of who you are and where you
come from even if it is from the streets. Having created this movement has
caused both Raka Rich and Raka Dun to become more open minded and has ignited
their own revolution.
With your song “Soy Raka” you
embody a negative connotation of what many people may consider to be ghetto
here in the United States, which is guns and gold teeth used as a fashion
statement. Why depict such an image if you are trying to steer away from the
Rakas make their music about what they see, what they have grown up around in
the streets of Oakland, giving their music an organic flavor. Rakataca may have
a negative connotation, but the hood or ghetto has that same image and it isn’t
about trying to hide where you come from, but more so about embracing who you
are and being proud of it. That’s not to say that you have to embody the
negative stereotypes by embodying the mold that has been drawn out for those to
follow and be judged for it. Their music speaks of their life experiences and
the stories of many that they have seen before.
I want to congratulate you on
your success as artists as I know you have done many performances with big
names and held our own tours, which you are currently, are on.
How has your life changed from
when you first began in 2006?
Stress! Before it was about making music for fun as a hobby now it has become a
job, a career, a business and much more. They have started their own company
Soy Raka in 2011 and their first project was Chancletas
y Camisetas Bordada, an album
that was number one on iTunes for some time. When Raka Rich mentioned that he
wanted to become an artist when he reordered his first album and knew he could
do better and had to do better is the same concept that they are now carrying
in their business. It is about topping the last project that they did so that
they stay relevant in the media and not fall by the wayside. This is not to say
they no longer enjoy what they do because they still have fun, but it has
become more than just them writing lyrics as it is their road to success.
How hard has it been maintaining
family and friend relationships with such a busy schedule?
family and friends have been upset with them because they have such busy
schedules and they have minimal time to keep in touch with those that they
would like to talk to on a day to day. They attempt to explain their situation
to those family and friends, but it is difficult for them to understand their
time constraints in running their business. Although family and friends may not
understand why they never have time, this is the fuel to Los Rakas motivation
in succeeding. Paving the way for future generations to follow in their
footsteps and make something of themselves.
Has your fame caused you to lose
friends have been lost since the day that Los Rakas started to the present.
Those who they hang out with are those who have been there since they were
little, before they were known as Los Rakas. Many of these people who they
started off with were their family. No friends were lost due to fame because if
they were, they were never considered to be friends in the beginning. They are
always surrounded by the same people that have been in their circle since they
were little, allowing them to have excellent communication between one another.
Raka Rich one of your songs that
I love is "Nunca Cambiare." What is the driving force that keeps you humble and
down to earth? Same to you Raka Dun?
Rich: His mother is the one to bring him back down to earth when he may begin
to seem as if he is being full of himself. Another humbling inspiration that
has had a great effect on him are the children that look up to him. Wanting to
be a positive role model for those kids and most importantly for his son.
Who are the most influential
people in your life personally?
Raka Rich and Raka Dun have had many influences throughout their lives from the
women in their families to their close friends that have helped them create
hooks to songs that were in the progress of being made. They are able to pull
influences by those positive people that they have around them.
I know that you have worked with
many artists, but which artist has been your favorite artist to work with? Who
would you like to work with in the future?
Artist: E-40, Cali Buds, Krypto, The Team, And Many Producers
Artist: New Artists
How did it feel to perform on the
same stage as Ericka Badu and Snoop Dogg, two rather big names in the music
have become so grounded that it no longer crosses their mind that they are
chilling back stage with legendary artist, more so focused on how they are going
to kill it at their own performance, the reason why they are their. It is the
drive that keeps them focused and humble, not being affected by stardom. At
the same time they feel honored to be in the presences of such huge names, but
don’t have the chance to dwell on it until a few days after all the events have
What is the next step for both of
you in your music careers?
To keep building on their
company Soy Raka, enter into the movie scene and selling Raka merchandise. All
in all showing those who didn’t/don’t believe that you can come from nothing
and become successful and not by just being a rapper, but business men.