By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
By Karli Evans
By Jose D. Duran
By Pablo Chacon Alvarez
Garcia: On my first album, Anti-Social, I was still coming into my own as an MC. I used to try to fit a million words into one bar, but I realized that less is more. I've learned how to hear a track and really attack the track for what kind of song that is. I've learned to cover every subject in my life, from partying to my parents getting divorced. I really want to come with a song, almost a story, on every track. Because the last time there were some expressive tracks, but it was really more like, "I'm a better rapper than you." Now there are actual topics, subject matter. There's real content to the music.
On his preshow rehearsal ritual, and his ability to rock any crowd:
Garcia: Our shows always change depending on who we're opening up for. You have a certain audience you've got to cater to. I rehearse 95 percent of the shows. I perform in Miami a lot, so to keep the crowd interested I have to change it up.
I rock over our production, and I'll rock over known production as well, to keep the crowd involved. But when you pick those beats, you want to be smart about the beats you're picking. Luckily I feel like I'm diverse enough to rock any kind of beat. For instance, I'm not going to rhyme over Mobb Deep's "Shook Ones" opening for Trick Daddy. It's just not going to work!
On being stylistically diverse, but making it work:
Garcia: Being raised in Miami, you have the influences of Southern music and Caribbean music, and being Cuban I have that music.
My album has a lot of different sounds on it. All hip-hop, but it's East Coast, Latin-flavored, and down South. But sometimes producers will come at me real extreme with a certain style, and I don't really get extreme with any style. If it's too over-the-top-sounding, dumbed-down and simplified ... like, I don't do snap music. I just don't do it. And I'm not going to start doing it just because a formula works. Or reggaeton. It's just not going to happen.
On the N.O.R.E. connection:
Garcia: We've been friends with N.O.R.E. for a long time.
EFN: One of the first things I told him when he came down — he bought an apartment downtown and started working out of our studio, and one thing I told him: No reggaeton. He's done with it. We're back to hip-hop. I'm A&Ring his new project, called Global Warming.
On not sweating easy comparisons:
Garcia: It was the worst when reggaeton blew up. I was getting hit from every Latino label, left and right. No disrespect to those people, but that's just not what I do.
EFN: We're Latin, so we have no problem sampling a Latin beat, doing some Latin things. But we don't rap in Spanish.
Garcia: You know, here's this Cuban rapper from Miami, wears a gold chain, and he lives in Little Havana but grew up in Kendall, and he's got all these Cuban guys around him. So you figure it's going to be a reggaeton Wu-Tang, but it's not! We do hip-hop.
And Pitbull.... I respect Pit and everything that he does. People can compare me to whatever the hell they want, but I don't pay attention to it anymore. People understand now what my style is and how I'm different. Yeah, we're both Cubans in Miami, but there are a kabillion Cubans in Miami! It's not fair to make the assumption that we'll be exactly alike because of that.
On the future:
Garcia: I'm going to Disney World! Nah. Basically I have to just hustle and get my name everywhere I can. Because I am independent. We're not Def Jam. We're looking to sell a decent number, and then from this album hopefully take the stepping stone into the majors.