Words by Rainey Cruz Illustration by Hectah
Aubrey “Drizzy Drake” Graham hails from Toronto, Canada. That’s more than 400 miles from Uptown, New York City, where, apparently, Spanish girls love the GQ-cover homie like he’s Aventura. But the way he speaks about my neck of the woods would make you think that the fella was some kind of heavyweight in these streets. Let’s be clear: when Drake says “Spanish” girls, he actually means Dominican girls. Dyckman Street. You know. My people. Now why in the world would a teen actor-turned-backpack-rapper-turned-crooner-slash-loverboy want to name-check on Dominicans? Hmmm.
Street cred and beautiful women can go a long way in hip hop — ask Ice-T, 50 Cent or T.I. So when a dude like Degrassi’s “Wheelchair Jimmy” (a.k.a. Drake) needs a legitimate boost in either of those departments, he looks to Dominicans. Real talk: softy and lofty Aubrey can tweet and sing #NoNewFriends all he wants, but triple OG’s (and maybe 3G iPhone owners like myself) know that he’s just fishing for the shine of the money and the mamis to brighten up that Colgate smile. I can already hear the rebuttals, “but some of his closest compadres are actually Dominican.” Yea, whatever. Where’ve we heard that excuse before? He’s not alone, though. And I don’t blame him. Quiet as it’s kept, Dominicans
VH1’s Love & Hip Hop’s got them (booooo!). French Montana had Dominicana Yaris Sanchez breaking necks behind her starring role in the video for his break-out single, “Shot Caller,” two years ago. Add that to the extensive list of models like booty-mag superstars Diana Escotto, a.k.a. “Mizz DR,” and Rosa Acosta, who’s done work for skate and streetwear labels like Supreme. I’d say if popular culture was your only introduction to our women, then you would be lead to believe that they’re our island nation’s most titillating export. Geez!
History can be mighty ugly, but there is no denying that our ladies are beautiful; all of the colonizing, baptizing and regime-rolling that occurred in the Dominican Republic from Columbus’ 1492 arrival up until today made for one extremely diverse mixture of indigenous Indians, Africans and Europeans. It’s true, there’s a plethora of Quisqueyan women available in different skin shades, hair types and bust, waist, and hip sizes for the casting directors and Drakes of the world to fawn over. But culture runs deeper than a proverbial fat ass and notorious ‘80s drug crews like the Jheri Curls and Wild Cowboys.
Still, cats like Jay Z know that there’s a ton of juice that comes along with shouting out Dominican drug connects, like he did in 2009’s “Empire State Of Mind.” “I used to cop in Harlem / Hola my Dominicanos / Right there up on Broadway / Brought me back to that McDonalds / Took it to my stash box.” Biggie wasn’t a stranger either. His 1995 “Real N*ggas” track proclaimed, “Colombian / Dominican. Yea, whatever / Whoever he was / He had it tucked under the leather / Two keys / 20 g’s / Nigga please.” Anyone who is street-culture literate and schooled in the ways and means of New York City knows that after edging out Puerto Rican and other Latin counterparts, Dominicanos have propelled themselves to credibility-corralling platforms such as politics, sports and entertainment, and your favorite rapper’s favorite subject: drug trafficking.
But, honestly, we’re not just out here slinging baseballs and bags of yay, yo! We’ve just been trying to get ours here in America, legitimately, just like everybody else. Dyckman Street is proof-positive of this, as a network of restaurants, clubs and authentic after-hours spots host celebrated “outta-towners” like Rick Ross and Leonardo DiCaprio.
True aficionados of Dominican culture know that to understand us you also have to tap into the struggle. Ask A$AP Rocky, who shot the video to his “Wild For The Night” single off his 2013 debut album Long Live A$AP in the slums of Santo Domingo, DR. It came complete with a drug kingpin intro and all! Ask Future, who did the same exact thing, only two years earlier, for his “Tony Montana” tune. Or ask A$AP Ferg, whose latest single, “Shabba,” features A$AP Rocky hollering at “all my Dominican girls ‘dem” in his verse. All three of these gentlemen seem to know that Dominicans are a rare and sought-out breed with a lot of stories to tell. Alright, for that we’re guilty, I’ll admit. Anyway, thanks for the shout-outs, Drake. Hey, and if it helps, your genetic makeup could almost give you a Dominican pass, homie.
This story appears in Mass Appeal Issue 53. Read more stories from the issue here.