Delinquent Habits

Delinquent Habits Biography

The fanfare of mariachi trumpets says it all. It's time to dance, to party, to celebrate the return of the kings. Delinquent Habits is back with their third release, Merry Go Round, a radiant carnival of diverse rhythms, styles, and lyrics. To those new to the scene, Delinquent Habits virtually invented Latino hip-hop back in 1991. When Kemo (David L.K. Thomas), Ives (Ivan S. Martin), and O.G. Styles (Alejandro R. Martinez) first hooked up in Los Angeles, they knew they had something fresh. Ives and Kemo rapped in English, Spanish, and Spanglish while O.G. Styles fused obscure funk with traditional Latin rhythms. Delinquent Habits was an instant success on the LA club scene, electrifying crowds eager for a music that spoke to their hearts.

"We were proud to have been at the forefront, at the beginning of things," nods Kemo. Record companies were at first hesitant to take a risk on the new music, but when upstart PMP records decided to release Delinquent Habits in 1996, the result was pure magic. The album helped spark a bold new Latino pride, selling 350,000 in the US and a million copies worldwide. The single, "Tres Deliquentes," moved 450,000 copies, hitting the charts not only in hip-hop, but in pop and R&B. Delinquent Habits appeared on NBC's "Late Nite with Conan O'Brien," hosted "Yo! MTV Raps," and performed on the Spanish language television show "La Hora Lunatica with Huberto Luna." They played live with the Fugees, and trekked across America with Korn and Ice-T. Delinquent Habits brought their sounds to Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Holland, Austria, Italy, Spain, and the Czech Republic, touring with artists such as the Fugees, Beck and Henry Rollins. They traveled to Central and Latin America, and out to Japan, where they played with Funkdoobiest.

After their first album, Delinquent Habits appeared to drop from the scene. The reality was much different. The group's second release, Here Come the Horns won great advance praise from the press and critics, and was ready to hit the streets when PMP Records dissolved. "That was pretty rough," admits Ives. But the band persevered, touring extensively in Europe, as well as doing spot dates in the US. "Being on the road kept us alive," recalls Kemo. "When an audience gives you love, you want to do that much more for them. People say our shows have gone from good to pretty spectacular. There's a lot of energy and we try to give the crowds what they need to get loose."

The touring not only strengthened the band musically, but it gave them a new perspective on what they wanted their music to say. Inspired by fresh sounds and ideas, O.G. mixed his trademark funk samples and Latin rhythms with orchestras and Jeep-blasting bass. That pushed Kemo and Ives into creative overdrive, and the group began work on their third album, Merry Go Round with a reborn vitality. "We saw it as a chance to show everyone we could come back stronger and more positive than ever," says Ives.

Some things in Delinquent Habits, however, will never change. "We see our music as a natural fusion of music and lyrics, while always keeping it hip-hop," says Kemo. "We're not going to bash you over your head that these are Latinos doing it. And above all, we keep things positive. If you're looking for tales of guns and hos, you won't find them here. This may be the 'hood, and it's definitely real, but that doesn't make it a place where life means a jail sentence."

Merry Go Round was initially released on Delinquent Habits' own Station Thirteen, and has been picked up by Ark21 Records, owned by industry veteran Miles Copeland. With worldwide distribution, the album is poised to take Delinquent Habits back to the forefront of the Latino hip-hop explosion. Seeing other groups follow in their footsteps gives all three members of Delinquent Habits great satisfaction. "We're proud Latino hip-hop is going in the direction it is," says O.G. "Now its our turn to get in there and really bring it home."

"We want to transcend the stereotypes placed on Latino hip-hop," Kemo says. "We will keep elevating and evolving, and making good music for everyone open-minded enough to accept it. The past is past. The ups and downs are history. This is where the future begins."

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