Lucha Libre

by Mike Huberty
July 2008

hip hop reggaeton from Madison/Milwaukee, Lucha Libre

hip hop reggaeton from Madison/Milwaukee, Lucha Libre

Madison hip-hop/reggaeton group, LUCHA LIBRE gives a nod to their home turf in their song, “Midwest Bang” on their new album, The Takeover. With a nod to Coolio’s “Sumpin’ New” (quickly followed by a Buffalo Springfield quote), they chant “There ain’t no party like a Midwest party ‘cuz a Midwest party don’t stop.” It’s an interesting statement. After all, this is Madison, where hip-hop is supposed to be controversial and problematic. Amid that, LUCHA LIBRE is creating their own success in a city where hip-hop and rap fans have complained for years that they haven’t gotten the same respect or opportunities. And with their new record, they’re confident and stepping up.

Lead emcee, Mic Virus, moved to Madison about a year ago from Milwaukee but has been performing with the rest of the group since 2005. He says, “Da Ricanstrukta and NV1 (the other emcees in the group) are cousins so they’ve known each other for life. I’ve been doing this since I was ten. LUCHA LIBRE in Spanish is ‘wrestling,’ but we break the words down to their meaning. ‘Lucha’ is fight and ‘libre’ means free, so we use it like freedom fighters; fighting for freedom for our people. Not so much a revolutionary term, but financial freedom; freedom to be your own boss, freedom to do what you want to do when you want to do it.”

And when it comes to Madison hip-hop, Mic Virus says that it’s a concern, but something they don’t have to worry about. “What’s nice about LUCHA LIBRE is that any show we’ve ever done, there’s never been any violence before, at, or after the show. And venues talk to each other; we have a great reputation, if there is an altercation at one of shows, we step in and say ‘Hey, not here, we’re trying to keep this alive so we have somewhere we can do this hip-hop thing where everyone can go.’ We’ve been affected but not as much as other artists because we have already have a reputation for throwing professional shows where no violence occurs.”

The Takeover is being released on their own label, I NEED A RAISE RECORDS, as far as that name goes, Virus explains, “I hate waking up every day and going to work and being overworked and underpaid. So, something that’s common among every working man and working woman, everybody needs a raise. No matter how much or how little you make, you still need a raise. That’s a goal for us to get that raise so we don’t have to wake up and go to work everyday. And if we do, it’s for something that we love to do, not working for someone else.”

His favorite song from the new album is “Ready” which features one of his signature lines, “My gat smokes so much, my gun’s got emphysema”. For a band with a reputation of little conflict at their shows, it’s a violent line to highlight, but Virus explains the difference. “It’s more of a metaphor,” he says, “when you see our logo (a fist holding a gun) you can think that it promotes gun violence. But not at all, that logo represents, ‘By any means necessary’ and when we talk about stuff in our raps it’s about either stuff we went through or stuff that happened in the neighborhoods we grew up in. We’re not violent people by nature. We’re all about business.”

When it comes to the new record, Virus isn’t shy about their plans, “‘The Takeover’ (title track) pretty much explains what we’re about as a group. We’re here to take over the hip-hop industry locally and pretty much raise the bar. It’s pretty easy to get on here, and we feel the need to raise the bar so not your average Joe Blow rapper can say he’s the best because he’s gotta compare to us. As far as reggaeton, ‘Superior’ and ‘Shake it’. Those are dance tracks, and what’s great about reggaeton is that you can still say what you want to, it doesn’t have to be lovey-dovey, but girls will still dance to it because of the beat.”

Discussing some of the group’s appeal, while Mic Virus isn’t bilingual, the rest of his group is, “When we rap in both English and Spanish, it broadens our demographic. It doesn’t just appeal to kids who like hip-hop. There’s a lot of Spanish-speaking people here in the city. When they hear NV1 or Ricanstrukta rapping in Spanish, no one else does that here.”

For Madison hip-hop and reggaeton fans, their release party is at The Annex on July 12th and will also feature DJ PaPi Love, DJ Pain 1, SOSE & DJ Tyme, and Fall Guys. Doors are open at 9 and get there early! Ladies get in free until 11 pm and the door price changes from $5 to $10 after Midnight.

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Record Label: I Need A Raise Records