2Mex - Biography
An icon on the underground hip-hop scene, Los Angeles-based 2Mex—born Alejandro Ocana, who also performs and records under the handle, SonGodSuns—is a prolific rap artist, collaborator, producer and linguist, who first gained recognition for his work with The Visionaries in the 1990s. Proud of his Mexican heritage and a representative of the diversity of L.A.’s fervent hip-hop scene throughout the 1990s-2000s, 2Mex is the just the opposite of vainglorious hip-hop artists who rap of material gain. His strobe-rhyming, complex lines of verse and subject matter often comes closer to beat poetry, and he finds himself playing in basements, backyards and small clubs as something of a community servant. Over the years, 2Mex has collaborated with other LA-based artists such as Busdriver, Abstract Rude, Atmosphere, Aceyalone, The Shape Shifters and LMNO on countless projects, while contributing to efforts by $martyr (him and LifeRexall), Blowed Project, Fiona Apple, Stephen Perkins and The Mind Clouders. Since he began recording in LA at the age of 17, he has released six albums as 2Mex, while forming Look Daggers with the Mars Volta’s Isaiah “Ikey” Owens and other groups.
Hailing from Mid-City between Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles, 2Mex’s father wrote poetry. Taking his cues from those early days and already a fan of hip-hop, he began rhyming in 1991 in the LA underground. Already showing off his staccato delivery, which is an impossibly enunciated machine-gun fire of consonants and stretch vowels, he started up the political hip-hop collective, The Visionaries, with LMNO, Lord Zen, Dannu, Key Kool and DJ Rhettmatic, a turntablist who is part of the World Famous Beat Junkies. Known for writing material with positive underpinnings about urban life and ethnic issues, each member of the group also works as a solo artist, but together they have released four full-length albums since 1998, beginning with Galleries (Up Above Records).
As a solo artist, 2Mex was inspired by the imprisoned Leonard Peltier, the activist for the American Indian Movement (AIM), whose “Prison Writings” sparked a chord with the rapper. He has a tattoo to commemorate Peltier’s plight. His first album under his own name was the polysyllabic Words Knot Music (2000 Meanstreet), which was a pensive collection of spontaneously recorded spoken word thought, getting high stream of consciousness, wordsmithing and poetry. If his work in The Visionaries put him on the map, Words Knot Music was a declaration that his devotion was to art rather than commercial appeal. Underground hip-hop fans and artists alike took note.
He followed it up with Fake It Until You Make It (2000 Meanstreet) and B Boys in Underground Mexico (2001 Meanstreet), the latter which blended rap abstractions, spoken word and rock music, pushing the boundaries of hip-hop music further. Considered by some his masterpiece for giving voice to the Latino subculture, the album contained a ten-minute spoken word opus called “The Believe in Yourself Song,” which epitomized 2Mex’s ideology.
Into the mid-2000s, The Visionaries continued to collaborate and tour with the likes of Mos Def, De La Soul, Blackalicious and Talib Kweli. They released Pangaea (2004 Up Above Records) and the underground favorite, We Are the Ones (We’ve Been Waiting For) (2006 Up Above Records), which featured cameos by Polyhedron and Madlib. Meanwhile, 2Mex released Sweat Lodge Infinite (2003), an ever-intelligent and complex hip-hop effort that contained one of his standout tracks, “Seconds Ago.” The album’s beats were courtesy of Longevity (of Darkleaf).
He put out a self-titled album in 2004 (Image Entertainment), and in 2006 dropped Are Smartyr (Cornerstone), which he put together with LifeRexall of The Shape Shifters, whose renowned beat-production skills were on display. He also put out an album called Over The Counter Culture (2005 Up Above Records), as SonGodSuns, which was produced by DJ Babu of Dilated Peoples.
2Mex has toured Europe many times, as well as Cuba, Japan, Canada and extensively through the United States. In 2009 he toured Europe with DJ Scientist/Ceschi Ramos from Fake Four Inc., and since 2000 has shared the stage with Busta Rhymes, Cypress Hill, Nas, Jurassic 5 and GZA from Wu Tang, among many others. He is one of the more revered names in underground hip-hop. in 2010 2Mex released My Fanbase Will Destroy You.