Salt Lake City isn’t the birthplace of Latin hip-hop, but it is the place Chicano rapper Hogg Boss calls home.
Boss grew up on the east side of Utah’s most populous city, where, before he made a name for himself as a local emcee “freestylin’ in the ‘hood for homies and also at parties,” he was a gang member. In his own words, “I was lost and didn’t give a fuck about life. I quit school and started gang bangin’ crazy.”
But when his cousin and mentor Raul died in 1993, Boss decided to trade in his life as a street thug to pursue a more meaningful career in music.
His hip-hop beginnings were humble – rapping over instrumentals with friends – but in the past 15 years Boss has successfully climbed the industry rungs, initially as the first hip-hop artist ever to emerge from SLC, dropping his debut album in 1999, then performing with heavy hitters like E-40, Mac Dre, Chingo Bling, Baby Bash, SPM and Mr. Shadow.
Now poised to become a SLC pioneer – and the main artist signed to Zab Music Inc. – Boss has a hit single, “Ringtone,” steadily working its way to the top of SLC station U92’s daily countdowns.
Boss knows, however, that he has his work cut out for him. Though nearly 20% of SLC’s residents are Latino, Latin hip-hop isn’t a boon of mainstream music like gangsta rap and R&B. But Boss isn’t worried. He says his music spans cultures and genres so that everyone who listens can relate.
“I’m rapping ‘bout that real-life struggle and the trials and tribulations of life’s obstacles. Family, enemies, love, hate, money, struggle, envy and the love for hip-hop – cause without all of those ingredients, I wouldn’t be the man I’ve become.”
“I got my own swag, and don’t sound like any other artist,” Boss continues. “I’m one-of-a-kind!”
That confidence is working in his favor, too.
An anomaly in Utah, Boss is taking the city by storm, and gearing up to spread his homegrown SLC sound across the country.
“I feel, as an artist, I’ve grown over the years with hip-hop and the music industry,” he says. “For my music to touch people around the world and them sayin’ this kid’s from Salt Lake City, Utah, and be respected as an emcee, cause what I spit about everyone can relate to – that’s what I want.”
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