Words and deeds: the perfect balance. Akwid offers the testimony of their own human story, and sets it to music as no one has ever done before, launching the flaming arrow of their conviction that English is their second language here in the United States, not their first as others allege.
This is why they have so much invested in this hip-hop release based on regional urban music. When asked if they would ever consider focusing on other trendy rhythms, they say, "Hell, no! Our new album is regional Mexican music ... and we're not going to the other side."
And that's a fact. This sentiment is what runs through the band's fourth album, entitled "ESL" after the controversial English as a Second Language program – an album that thanks to the help of Hermanos Valenzuela includes duets with El Original de la Sierra, Los Horóscopos de Durango, and more.
As a result, this time around the band is doing a more in-depth exploration of issues related to the personal lives of Sergio and Francisco – but there is always room for fun and humor.
For example, there is the first track, entitled "Qué Quiere La Nena,” an Akwid-style response to the “niña fresa” that rose to great popularity on the airwaves when the techno band got started: "It's definitely sly, with sexy innuendos, fun and danceable, 100 percent regional Mexican. In our style. With the same musical arrangements and the hip-hop backdrop."
Aggressively, with this launch under the Univision Records label Akwid is throwing fuel on the fire by promoting, praising and defending the concept of humble Latino roots.
Why? "Because we came here as wetbacks." They say so in "El Principio," the first song on the album.
“Because we're Mexicans who grew up in south central LA." They say it in their interviews.
“Because this is what we know how to do. Because we grew up listening to regional Mexican music. Because we can't be untrue to ourselves or to the people who know us. This is what we know how to do. And we do it to a level that satisfies us and our fans."
In sum, that's the Akwid strategy. The idea of Latino "roots" joins two separate cultural and linguistic realities: the here and there, the "I came from there" and the "I grew up here and live here." It's what they proclaim and sing about in "El Principio" in Spanish: you can take me out of the barrio, but you can't take the barrio out of me – while the chorus repeats the same sentiment in English.
For brothers Sergio and Francisco Gómez, the well-known founders and pioneers of the urban regional movement that is emerging and developing in southern California, "ESL" represents a phenomenal step forward in comparison to their first recording. "This album is a hundred times better," they say. "Not just musically, but also with regard to our culture. But apart from all that, we've still got our Akwid identity, what people first saw in us. In this album you can appreciate how our music and our expression have evolved."
There is no shortage of excellent arrangements in “ESL” since they were handled under the renowned and talented producers Hermanos Valenzuela, who have worked with such important groups and artists as Banda EL Recodo and Thalia, to name a few. The album has a consistent regional urban feel from the beginning to the end, and the music is of such quality that in addition to the album's 10 new songs there is an enormous bonus track including six exclusively instrumental cuts.
“The music is very innovative," say the Gómez brothers about the bonus track. "That's why we decided to present that separately, so people could listen to it more in depth and appreciate it without the lyrics."
Nevertheless, Akwid's lyrics are strong and they convey clearly consistent messages, like in "Esta Copa," where Akwid gives a shout of thanks to restaurant workers, landscapers, painters, butchers, truck drivers, mechanics, car washers, pallet loaders and many more: "Without these people, a lot of the t