J. Patron often wears clothing with the slogan “Puro Oro.” This translates to “Pure Gold”—and that’s exactly what J. Patron is in the local hip-hop scene, as an artist who has opened doors for many others.
J. Patron (Camilo Gomez) came to the United States from Colombia when he was 4 years old and grew up in the Coachella Valley. Local hip-hop artists Provokedand Willdabeasthave talked to me in recent months about J. Patron’s hip-hop talents, which developed at an early age during high school during rap battles. In recent years, J. Patron has toured the United States and Latin America, including a SXSW appearance in March.
During a recent interview, Patron explained how he grew up listening to Latin music—and how that went on to meld with his hip hop.
“It was everywhere!” Gomez said. “It was all my parents listened to. There is a cool little Colombian community here in the Coachella Valley, and they would throw parties all the time. I grew up around cumbia, merengue and stuff like that.
“The hip-hop stuff was my influence just being here. Going to school with friends—that’s the stuff we were listening to. As far as the Latin roots go, that’s the stuff I grew up with at home, and I never really had the desire to make that type of music. I was more interested in making hip hop, so it was later on, after a few years of rapping, that I started experimenting and mixing the two, and I realized that people were already doing that. There was a scene already going on in Latin America, so that’s what united me and the cats down there.”
Gomez said he’s always felt attached to his Colombian roots.
“Back in the early ’90s, (the Colombian community) was all over the Coachella Valley. (There were) a few families here and there; everyone would get together and throw stuff,” he said. “Obviously in bigger cities, there are bigger communities. But they would just be really active with the Independence Day festivals and soccer games.
“That’s part of our religion,” he added, laughing.
Gomez said he’s excited about the growing popularity of Latin music in the United States.
“It’s always been there—but for it to be so Americanized, it’s something new,” he said. “They said at the Latin Alternative Music Conference that I used to go to in New York, ‘It’s going to take over, and it’s growing.’ I believed in it, but just this last year, in 2018, it was a crazy year for Latin music, where it’s on English radio stations. It’s opened a lot of doors for me as a Latino making Latin-American Spanglish music in the United States. At first, it was super-hard; nobody wanted that shit anywhere. People were telling me I wouldn’t go anywhere with that. … Now it’s like everyone is accepting of it, and it’s opening doors. It’s truly a blessing to have this wave that it’s having right now, and it feels like it’s only going to get bigger.”
That growing popularity is taking place locally, too.
“It was about three years ago that I stared doing shows at The Hood and the Red Barn,” Gomez said. “Everyone was like, ‘This is predominantly a Caucasian music scene, so you’re going to play rock, some type of country or some other shit like that.’ Everyone (else) was like, ‘Bro! No! Stick to the nation! They are the ones showing you love.’ Even when I was doing shows at The Date Shed, everyone was fucking against each other over it, and I was like, ‘Dude, if these people are opening the doors for me, I’m not going to shut anyone down, and I’m going to take advantage of everything.’ The Hood was like, ‘OK, let’s see what’s up,’ and I did a few shows and brought out a couple of local guys and Giselle Woo, and we threw a sick-ass party. It was like, ‘Boom! There it is!’ We just kept doing it.
“I remember one time we had a salsa night at The Hood, and it was pretty sick,” he said with a laugh. “You should have seen the dance floor; everyone was dancing salsa, and it was insane! At the Red Barn, I was always doing Latin trap, mixing the Latin and the American trap and stuff, and it was a hit; people would jump like a punk-rock show. At first, the venues weren’t what they were now, and since they’ve opened themselves to that, it’s been going really well for all of us.”
However, not all venues have been welcoming.
“I played somewhere north of Los Angeles. I was on tour at that time and … doing my Spanish thing,” he said. “The club owner or whoever it was told me that it wasn’t going to fly there. I said, ‘Well, let me finish my show. I’m still going to get paid, and I just won’t come back here. We’ll both be happy.’ That was a couple of years ago—but now it’s a whole different story. I’m sure if you go back to that place with the same kind of shit now, they’re going to open the doors for people to come in.”
His brand-new EP, My American Dream and Colombian Fantasy, represents a new direction for J. Patron.
“I started working on this EP about a year ago,” he said. “It’s a new genre for me that I’ve always wanted to be a part of, but I never really felt like I was ready: I started working on some reggaeton two years ago, and then officially started to make the EP a year ago; 75 percent of it is reggaeton. There’s one trap song on there. It’s entirely produced by a good friend of mine who goes by Deltatron, from Lima, Peru. I met him at SXSW about two or three years ago, and we’ve been making music together ever since.”
“Even Goldenvoice is throwing more Latin-infused parties up in Los Angeles and now down here, too,” he said. “It’s exciting, and it’s very beneficial to someone like me who is an independent artist to be able to bring home the bacon.”
For more information, visit jpatronmusic.com.