and Musician on the Borderline of African
American and Mexican American Culture
As in the case of the young smuggler, the next interviewee began selling drugs out of economic need. The biography that follows sheds light on a number of dimensions of border drug trafficking, including interethnic relations, drug-oriented artistic expression, the establishment and functioning of distribution networks, the devastation and desolation traffickers feel when they are arrested, and the politics of the war on drugs. “Felipe” (a pseudonym) was born and raised in Baytown, Texas, a blue-collar, industrial city near Houston that is home to an enormous oil refinery.
Felipe lived on the poor side of town, and he describes growing up with African Americans who adopted Mexican culture as their own, and Hispanics who took up African American ways. These people, “all choloed-out black dudes,” or “Blaxicans,” are one of the many faces of cultural hybridity in U.S. cities with large black and Hispanic populations—most notably, Houston and Los Angeles. They also represent the cultural borderlands that drug-trafficking organizations must navigate to bring their product to market.
As described by Felipe, Mexican trafficking groups, specifically the Gulf cartel and the Juárez cartel, bring drugs into the United States and then sell them to black-controlled distribution organizations in Houston, Dallas, and elsewhere. The drug-selling lifestyle and the blackMexican nexus (in neighborhoods, on basketball courts, in streets, in nightclubs, etc.) is then celebrated and re-created artistically by hip-hop artists such as South Park and Felipe himself. His colorful description of the intermingling of African American and Mexican American culture through hip-hop and rap music sheds light on the cutting edge of urban popular culture. Especially striking is the hip-hop song line “stack his