When it comes to lyricism, few rappers have done as much for the craft as Chino XL. During the last 20 years, the Los Angeles-based rapper has redefined what it means to be a supreme wordsmith. He’s created hit singles, released revered albums, collaborated with some of the most popular artists in all of music, delivered memorable roles in film and television, written for television and remained a fixture on the touring circuit.
His new double album, RICANstruction “The Black Rosary,” features the Los Angeles-based rhymer delivering a masterful mix of deeply personal songs, astounding lyrical exercises and remarkable narratives. It’s been more than six years since Chino XL released his last studio album, but the wordsmith needed to recalibrate several aspects of his life before he returned to a solo project. “I had to get focused on what really mattered, which is my family, my music and my life in general,” Chino XL explains of his new 35-track album. “Musically, I had to focus to get it back to its essence, which is that lyrics still matter. RICANstruction is a play on the word ‘reconstruction’ and RICAN is because of my Puerto Rican heritage. Latinos in general, we’re Catholic and have a dedication to prayer and to Saints. As for ‘The Black Rosary,’ the rosary is the prayer to put your life back together and the beads are what you wear on your neck.”
On such painfully revealing songs as “Silent Art Child,” “Mama Told Me” “Sleep In Scarlet” and “Regaurding Elizabeth (Save Me),” Chino XL discusses the abuse he suffered as a child, revisits a suicide attempt, begs for forgiveness to his aborted child and details several fractured personal relationships.
While crafting these emotionally draining songs, Chino XL realized that he was helping himself and others by recording them. “It’s a complete unbottling of a lot of stuff, things that I probably had suppressed,” he explains. “The human psyche has the ability and the power to do that in order to keep it functioning. I felt that it was time to let most of it out so I could move on and get past some of those issues. Also, being on tour last year, I realized how many people I connected to when I expressed a lot of those more painful, emotional songs. It seemed like a lot of times, somebody really needed to hear it. I can learn from it to help them relate to it so they could get past what they had going on. I realized that’s part of my journey.”