The reggaetón-heavy station, which specifically targets urban Latino youths, hired Martinez to produce a few commercials but seldom plays Thizz Latin tracks ostensibly because they're in English.
Even more galling to Sanchez is the lack of local hip-hop and R&B radio support, considering that both KMEL, 106.1 FM, and KYLD, 94.9 FM (Wild), regularly sponsor events such as Carnaval in the Mexican American community and even farm their DJs out for private quinceañera parties. Still, they refuse to put Latin rap on regular rotation. At press time, KMEL and KYLD representatives had not responded to requests for comment.
Interestingly, Thizz Latin MCs get more love in other regions, including central California and the Southwest, where they play to crowds as large as 5,000. The hip-hop hotbed of Houston is especially amenable to Latin rap so much so that local players have begun to migrate there. Vallejo rapper Baby Bash moved to H-Town years ago and subsequently struck gold in record sales. San Jose's Upstairs Records, home of SoCal Chicano-rap phenom Lil Rob, recently set up shop there.
Even Sanchez, a die-hard San Franciscan, feels the pull southward. He lived in Houston for a time and built strong connections there with top Chicano talent Chingo Bling and South Park Mexican, who both appear on Thizz Latin releases. So does Baby Bash, who recently paired up with Sanchez on "Thick ''N Juicy," a seductive track on Sanchez's solo debut, Gold Toes Presents: The Gold Rush, set for a Sept. 18 release.
Something of a slow jam, "Thick 'N Juicy" differs from Thizz Latin's more hardcore hyphy output. The imprint's vaguely thuggish brand of rap is offered as another excuse by radio programmers for why it doesn't get played. But that argument doesn't hold water considering both KMEL and La Kalle play classic gangsta rap by the likes of Snoop Dogg and 2Pac.
There are obviously racialized assumptions being made about what a real Latino is and what true hip-hop is. This rigid logic pushes Latino rappers into a broadcast border zone as migrant wanderers looking for a place to settle on the radio dial. Hopefully, they'll find a home once Latinos gain a stronger foothold in the media.