South Park Mexican Texas' premier Mexican rapper, Carlos Coy?known as South Park Mexican?was born in Houston's predominantly Hispanic South Park neighborhood in 1971. In 1994 he founded Dope House Records. In the past five years he's become a headliner on the Houston music scene. And he plans only on getting huge.
So I get the impression you had some wild young years.
I got my first felony charge when I was 10 years old, for arson. I burned down my next-door neighbor's house. By the time I was 16 I already had about four felonies on my record. Now I'm 29, I'm an old man, and I've outgrown that way of thinking. But even then, I always knew that I had something. I always knew I was the best. But I didn't quite really respect that until not too long ago, and what comes with respecting your talent is respecting everyone around you. It's all about having compassion for competition. And I have a lot of compassion for competition. Before, it was conquer all, be number one. Now, because I'm gifted?and I know I'm gifted?I'm already rich inside. I'm a very rich man.
When did you start rapping?
I started rapping in 1994, when I was 24, which was around the time I had my first child. That changed me a lot. When you have children, you start looking at life differently. And I think that was the beginning of the way I think now. How stuck I am on teamwork, and how stuck I am on helping others... My motto now is: Rather than being the only man on top, with the prettiest cars and the fanciest houses, surrounded by a bunch of poor jealous people, why not be surrounded by empires, if I can help build them? Now, instead of trying to look better than my friends, I want my friends to look better than me, you know? I don't care if you drive a nicer car than me or have a bigger necklace than me. That doesn't bother me at all. I wish you well. I want to help my people.
How would you describe yourself ethnically?
I describe myself as a Mexican-American...but I don't call myself "South Park Mexican-American." I'm very much against the word Chicano?it's a way to separate a race. "We're Chicano, you're Mexican," that just makes us weaker. Chicanos think that because they know English, they're better. Or because they don't let their kids play barefooted, they're better. Or because they're not content with just having babies and washing dishes like a lot of Mexican women are, that they're an entirely separate race.
Given all that, why do you sing in English?
I am singing to mainstream America, and I'm not complaining much. I'm just talking about my crazy lifestyle. I love all people. I sing in English because I want worldwide distribution.
Are you signing with anyone or are you staying with Dope House?
Basically, we have as many deals as we want. We just listen to people's offers... At any time, we can make the big million-dollar deal and get worldwide distribution. Universal flew us to New York, Interscope just flew us to Los Angeles, Priority flew us to Los Angeles, Atlantic and Electra want to, Def Jam?everyone that knows how to sell rap music wants to be a part of this. It's going to be something fun to watch. But right now I'm in the kitchen, cooking up my dope. That's what we do: we cook dope. The dope is the music. Of course the phone is ringing, and I'm sure it's a very important call. Somebody's knocking at the door, and I'm sure whoever's at the door is very important, too, but right now I'm in the kitchen, cooking up my dope. So I can't answer the phone, and I can't come to the door. People are looking in the windows, but I can't deal with them either because I can't burn my dope and fuck it all. I have to take care of this first. I'll cook this, and after I've got this dinner ready, I'll talk to them... I've got many other dinners to cook, many other projects, but right now?
Okay, back to you. What happened between the arson and the world takeover?
Well, I started selling dope when I was about 16 years old and kept it up until I was about 21. I sold crack in an all-black neighborhood. Very successful at it, never got busted. I always had a very supportive mother who I still live with, but some really dramatical stuff happened in the dope business. I'd lost all my money, for one thing. I prayed to God and asked him to steer me out of it, but...
So have you always been religious, even at the worst of times?
Yeah. But at the worst, my prayers would be more ridiculous, like: "Jesus, please don't let me get caught today." But I never lost faith, even if I did ask stuff like, "Jesus, I never had a dad to buy me a car. All I need is a car to really get going, that way I can do something nice. So as soon as I have enough money to do something really nice, I'll quit, you know?" Ridiculous prayers like that. Of course, I saved up money, a good 12 or 14 thousand dollars, kept it in a big old bag, and then I went out and I bought me two cars. I bought me a big fancy Cadillac and an Audi, both used, but with really nice paint jobs.
Well, once I bought the cars, I kept selling dope, so I kind of reneged on my promise. I was really trying to get out of it, but before I could, I ended up getting jacked. All this dope that I'd gotten fronted to me was taken. I got jacked for all the dope, almost got killed, and...I still had to pay back all these guys who'd fronted me. So these guys were threatening my mother, and they knew where she lived and where she worked, so...I couldn't take any chances. I had to come up with all the money. So I sold the cars, lost everything. So here I am, broke again. I didn't want to go back to selling dope again. I didn't know what to do. This is a true story, too. Call it what you want, but this is what really happened. I got on my knees one day, and I said, "Please, Jesus, just tell me what to do. Give me a sign."
My mom had bought a trailer park, and she'd given me and my brother and my sister our own trailers, so I was outside, praying, and I said, "Please, just give me a sign." Give me something to do and I'll do it. Right after that, I walked in my trailer, and the tv was on, and on the screen I saw the three letters, R-A-P, appear. And I knew. It was one of those stupid contests where if you call up some number with a rap, they promise you a major record deal. But that was it, that decided me: I thought to myself, rap. I've never tried rap. I used to write poems or whatever, but I never did anything with them. So I called up the contest with some really stupid rap, and of course nothing happened, but I started writing. I gave up dealing, and I got serious about rapping. After about two years of writing, I just jumped up on my feet?because I'd always lay on the floor and write?and I said, "There's not a man alive who can touch me now." At first when I'd write, or I'd listen to people on the radio, I'd say, "I'm not that good yet. That shit's too much." But I kept writing. I know what sells, I know what's good, and finally one day I just said, "that's it. I got it."
How exactly did having babies change your way of thinking and your lifestyle?
Well, when a child is born, he's a sponge. If a kid gets raised by a Blood, the guys who represent red, even when the child is in the womb, he can hear his mother say, "No, we're gonna have a kid, don't go out there and do a drive-by! No!" He can already feel there's something going on out there. He comes out, he's one day old, as soon as words are getting said in his mind, even if he doesn't know what the words mean yet, they're there. A kid six, seven months old, he still can't talk, but he can probably understand what's being said. So that gang member, when he says, "I represent red! That's what I die for!" and he sees his little seven-month-old child there, with a little plastic ball in his mouth, he doesn't realize that that kid knows what he's saying. He thinks that, "Oh, when my kid's about 12 years old, I'm going to tell him not to be in gangs, no problem." He doesn't realize that he started joining a gang on the day he was born, and by the time he's 12 years old, it's much too late to be telling him shit! The next 12 years you'll spend getting slapped in the face by all the mistakes you made raising the kid because growing up in that environment, the kid is naturally going to want to die for red, too. You think that kid's gonna grow up liking anyone who wears blue?
...I thank God that I can see the fact that I'm not perfect... I love myself enough to try to change, to quit smoking weed, for example. Right now I'm trying to quit smoking weed because I'm tired of trying to convince myself that I'm a better rap artist when I smoke. I always say, "Oh, man I come up with my best raps when I'm high"?which is true. But that doesn't mean I can't come up with even better raps once I've quit smoking. I've quit drinking already. I mean, I'll have a bottle of wine sometimes when I'm out for dinner with my old lady or something, but that's it.
And the rest of the family's closer than ever?
I still live with my mother... I added another section to her house, three more bedrooms where I live with my wife, daughter and son, but we still all live together. Of course my wife now wants a house, so I'm going to buy her a big ol' mansion somewhere... I think my mom's ready for me to go; all we do is argue.... That's all we've done all our lives. That's what she'll probably miss more than anything.
Which reminds me. Your sister Sylvia, who's your manager, works in a very male world. It must be difficult for a woman to work in rap, especially with all the machismo built into Latin culture.
It's definitely better than women playing football.
I like people because of the way they are, but that's not how business works. All you can do is just never let them see you cry. Sylvia, she gets a little emotional when things don't go her way. I think women are a little more emotional, and I think that's not good business. A woman can be just as successful as a man if she just knows how to play her cards.
How is the Mexican culture in Houston?in South Park?different from other parts of America?
Well, if I would've been raised in Los Angeles, I'd be dead right now, or in jail, because the gang thing really isn't as bad in Texas as in L.A. Of course I was in a gang and all that, and it was always Us against Them, but in L.A. it's much worse. With the amount of Mexicans that we have here, Houston, TX, should've already been Los Angeles right now. We were already on our way to being L.A. when I first started rapping. I was getting into my gang thing onstage, but then I stopped it immediately when I saw people liking me. I was like, "Hold up! Jesus! It's true! Jesus really did bless me! I cannot use my gift to corrupt my people!" So I would start saying, "Oh, yeah?we gotta treat our women good! And oh, yeah, it's easy to rob 10 stores and run around the neighborhood butt naked and blast motherfuckers; it's easy to kill. Any coward can do that. The bravest of men pick our people up and dust them off, that's what real men do. It's easy to go out and fuck 10 bitches, but it's hard to be faithful to one..." That's what I tell these kids at my concerts, the 10 thousand gangsters who are listening to me. They all love me because when I rap, I don't bullshit. When I rap, I'm representing. If you talk shit, you fall on your dick. If you motherfucking trip on me, you see the g-r-a-v-e, whatever. When I've got them all there, I tell the truth. I'm like, "Yeah, niggas, you know I'm a goddamned fool, you know I'm no motherfucking angel. You know I smoke weed and I drink 40s, but we've gotta realize, we're living like bitches. If we need weed and we need beer just to get through the day, every day, then we're slow-ass niggas who can't stand alone."
I'm trying to be more of a role model... You can't stop me. The Mexicans support me, and that's enough for me to take over, and now the white peoples are buying me. And that's why I do what I do. And I'm getting into movies, sitcoms, comedies, goddamned restaurants and clubs, whatever. Coy Entertainment and Dope House Records is going to be a multibillion-dollar company before it's all over with. Because we're building empires.