Crooked Stilo is an American singer-songwriter, rapper, and record producer. He is best known for his song “See You Again,” which was featured on the Furious 7 soundtrack in 2015.
Hip-hop has been performed in a number of languages, from Japanese to French to Polish, but if there is an unofficial second language in rap, it is Spanish, which is second only to English. Since the Mean Machine released the multilingual “Disco Dreams” in 1981, Latino MCs have been rapping in Spanish. Victor “Lunatiko” Lopez and Johnny “El Duke” Lopez, who form the group Crooked Stilo, are two of the proponents of Spanish-language rap in Los Angeles, a city with a large Spanish-speaking population. The Lopez siblings don’t solely rap in Spanish; they’re multilingual and can flow in any language; nevertheless, Spanish rapping has been an essential component of their work, not an afterthought. Crooked Stilo are versatile, offering both hardcore rap and more commercial pop-rap; they’ve been influenced by Cypress Hill, Ice-T, Kid Frost, and Funkdoobiest’s hardcore street rhymes, but they’re not blind to Cuban rapper Mellow Man Ace’s more pop-flavored material from the late ’80s and early ’90s. And the Lopez brothers have never listened only to hip-hop; they’ve absorbed a wide range of Latin music and fused hip-hop with Afro-Cuban salsa, Colombian cumbia, and other genres. Victor and Johnny Lopez are of Salvadoran origin, unlike many of the Latino MCs located in Southern California. In reality, they were both born in El Salvador, a Central American nation with a rich cultural heritage but, like neighboring Guatemala, has a long history of poverty, political instability, and politically motivated bloodshed. (Thousands of Salvadorans were killed by far-right, military-backed death squads in the late 1970s and 1980s, according to various human rights organizations, and the country was engulfed in a long, bloody civil war for 12 years, which ended when the Salvadoran government and leftist guerrillas signed a peace treaty on January 16, 1992.) The Lopez boys’ parents fled El Salvador in search of a better life and relocated to Los Angeles, where they ran into difficulties of a different kind. There were no Nazi death squads in Los Angeles, but there were narcotics, gang violence, and street crime, and when the Lopez brothers got into legal problems, their parents sent them back to El Salvador. Victor and Johnny Lopez returned to L.A. after two years and founded Crooked Stilo in 1991. Crooked Stilo had an underground West Coast fanbase in the 1990s and released a few indie albums, including Crooked for Life and So What U Want in 1999. (released on the R-Town label). Crooked Stilo signed with Fonovisa Records in 2003, a big label primarily renowned for regional Mexican music but sometimes branching out into non-Mexican Latin music. Crooked Stilo’s debut album for the Univision-affiliated Fonovisa, Puro Escandalo, was released in May 2004 and included the cumbia-influenced “Ya Lo Saben” as the album’s first single.