East Los Angeles had the 3rd most homicides in LA county this year, signaling that tension in the streets is once again rising. In a time were violence and gang affiliation is increasingly hypernormalized in music, particularly hip hop, many blame violent lyrics that promote gang violence on desensitizing today’s youth and helping recruit younger gang members.
In today’s music industry, it is incredibly rare to see today’s artists opening up honestly about their personal life & sharing their struggles and values; especially when that often entails going against the grain of popular culture that often glorifies gang violence and mass consumption. It is rare seeing hip hop artists open up about their feelings, hardships and losses in a genuine effort backed by good intentions to positively impact their younger audiences.. especially those in areas that are at-risk. In East LA, being rare is what Raer One is all about.
From tragic and humble beginnings, his exhibition as an artist has naturally became centered around honesty and transparency in addressing his own hardships and traumas to help push the dial towards progress within his community and encourage his younger listeners to not radicalize towards unnecessary violence.
Raemond Galicia, known throughout the LA rap scene as Raer One, is a 20 year old Mexican American artist whose lyrics and visuals are reflecting of East LA culture and it’s highs and lows which are often the subject of his artwork. East LA has in many ways shaped Raer’s character, and defined the young artist’s identity, who first began writing about his surroundings and experiences in middle school.
Raer was raised in the same neighborhood as his Father, who was tragically shot and murdered in Boyle Heights back in 2003… just weeks before his sons 3rd birthday. This event had a tremendous impact, according to Raer, not only on his life but that of his entire family. He says that the pain lingers on from his loss and though he has many friends and people who grew up with that are in gangs he has made a conscious decision to never join one and instead pursue his creative vision of making music and raising awareness on the many untold stories, like his own, that East LA has to offer.
This incident shaped Raer’s life and exhibition as an artist, in his videos he frequently shows neighborhoods in East LA that inspired the real life stories he reflects upon in his music. Whether it is the intersection of Evergreen and Cesar Chavez where Raer grew up, or the visiting the grave of his father and commemorating his memory in his music like in his last video “Demons” shot by fellow East LA native Nick Rodriguez whose documented other native LA artists like Shoreline Mafia, StincTeam, and BravoTheBagchaser. Raer One’s artistry reflects a very real and sobering glimpse at what life is like for many Latin youth in Los Angeles and urban America who were products of gang violence, broken families and post traumatic stress.
Raer’s earliest memories are of his grandmother asking him to pray that they bring justice to the man who killed his father. At a young age he recalls not understand death, the reason why it came to be, and subsequently having difficulty coping and understanding it which is a reoccurring theme in his music especially in songs like “Demons” and “May 1st” (the day his father was killed) from his latest album “Eastside Baby”. He ultimately hopes to inspire his listeners towards the direction of love and positivity in lives as an alternative to hate and fear.