Every video that Hawthorne hip-hop duo Coyote drops is well worthy of your attention, but there’s one that landed in February, “Fuck the Wall,” that seems to perfectly encapsulate what they’re all about. Beautifully satirical and on point, we see the brothers kidnap a reasonably convincing Trump impersonator and tell him that, “the day you build it it’s gon’ fall, bitch.”
That’s what these two siblings — Guapo Cortés and Ricky Blanco (they simply go by Guapo and Blanco) — do so well. They’re spitting out stories that, as is the tradition with the genre, tell of their everyday lives. Their struggles, their successes, and everything in-between. They pull no punches but, simultaneously, the ‘Yotes are super fucking funny.
It all started when the brothers lost a championship basketball game and, naturally pissed, they sat down and smoked together for the first time. Suitably enhanced, they started freestyling.
“It was the first time me and my brother smoked together, and somehow we just started freestyle rapping about losing the game, talking shit about the other team,” says Guapo by phone. “That’s how it started. We took it seriously almost immediately.”
“It might look like it happened overnight, but we’ve been going at it for ten-plus years,” adds Blanco.”
It’s one thing for two brothers to get stoned and spit shit about opposing ball players after a game; it’s another thing entirely to take that to the next level and embark on a new career. But when friends in the neighborhood started boosting their egos, the ‘Yotes chose to believe them.
“I started writing raps so the next time we would smoke, we could kick the raps,” Guapo says. “In my mind, people were telling me I was dope and I thought I was dope, but I was terrible. That’s what made me ballsy to keep going.”
“Me personally, I felt like I’d been good at everything I did as far as sports goes, so just taking on rapping I took all that confidence and carried it on, and now I’m here,” adds Blanco.”
Typically of siblings, the duo will give each other shit, even during the interview. The ribbing and needling are good-natured and funny. When we ask what they saw in each other during that first freestyle session, they both reply “nothing” and laugh. But the reality is that they’re a solid unit, and they’re well aware that they work best together.
“We just feel that we complement each other well, as far as our voices,” says Blanco. “It might be because we’re related. I just feel like on record we complement each other, and it’s just been working.”
“I agree,” adds Guapo. “Since the beginning we’ve been stronger as a unit. We’ve taken on solo projects before, but the brand is stronger with both of us because we are different. When we come together our sound is unique. I think as a duo, it’s a lot more powerful. And we’re not bad looking too, so it helps.”
The pair grew up in the South Bay, mostly Hawthorne, but a brief period in Inglewood, as well as a couple of years in Mexico as their parents found their feet. Still, they’re keen to stress that they rep Hawthorne, and the place has had a huge impact on their sound and lyrics. Their mom, they say, worked hard to forge an honest career, while hinting that their pops went in another direction. The brothers fell somewhere in the middle.
Now of course, they’re primarily entertainers. Gloriously talented rappers in a region that fully embraces the art form. While Latino hip-hop is nothing new the pair still feels like they’re having to work a bit harder to get themselves heard, but progress is being made.
“I feel like it’s a perfect time right now,” says Blanco. “There are a lot of Hispanic cats coming up in L.A. that are pretty dope, but I feel like us, the ‘Yotes, are at the front line of it right now. One of the best out, if not the best.”
“Forever, it’s been a thing that was, not holding us back, but people shied away from it,” says Guapo. “Now, I feel like people are ready to embrace it. Not only are we dope Latino rappers, we’re dope rappers and that’s part of the appeal. You can hear us on wax, and you can’t tell if we’re brown, black, purple or yellow. That’s part of the appeal that will make us crossover big-time. It’s just a matter of time really.”
The guys are riding on a wave of talent and self-confidence, and there’s no reason that other Hispanic rappers can’t benefit from the momentum. Guapo believes that a powerful scene is developing.
“It’s dope that the world is beginning to catch on, because it’s been around for a long time but never in the forefront,” he says. “It’s always been in the shadows. We’re like the stepchildren of the United States and are rarely represented correctly or even spoken about unless it’s in a negative context, especially in hip-hop — we’ve been there since the beginning, but we don’t get the recognition. Which is cool, but I feel like it’s gonna happen and it’s starting to happen. It’s cool to see.”
“We’re used to being the underdogs, so I feel like the victory’s going to be that much sweeter,” adds Blanco.”
Besides being wild canines, a coyote is an individual who’s paid to bring people across the US-Mexican border. The brothers felt that the name fit them, as they work to bridge the gap between Mexican and American people through their art.
“That’s where the name stems from,” Guapo says. “The people that know, know. It’s something symbolic. It felt like in a literal sense as well, with what we’ve been through in our lives, that name fit perfectly. And then the fact that we’re trying to bridge that gap between Mexican and American culture. Put this in the forefront of American culture. We’re really a part of both.”
They are, and things are going well for them. Their career took a massively positive turn when they hooked up with Wack 100 and 100 Entertainment.
“We had a friend of a friend who knows Wack 100,” says Blanco. “We own a barbershop on Melrose, and he used to come by and get his haircut over there. His name is Marcus Black. He heard some of our music, introduced it to Wack and Wack liked it.”
“That was under a year ago so this is all relatively new,” adds Guapo. “Coyote was only created a year and a half ago. As soon as we created the brand, we started shopping it without releasing music and it was a true blessing to create the Coyote brand — it’s been moving.”
That led to Coyote touring Europe with The Game. Another related artist, Blueface, appears on their forthcoming debut EP Legally Illegal, due in October.
“We’re super happy with it,” says Guapo. “The project was done, so we thought, before we went on tour to Europe with The Game. When we came back, we low-key probably took half of it off and replaced it with new stuff that we made during the whole lockdown. We made some pretty dope stuff. So I’m super stoked, and we’re still recording so the album to follow is nearly done too.”
They’ve clearly been busy during lockdown, and they’ve stretched their artistic legs beyond music too.
“All I can say is, we’re constantly recording content so you can expect a lot of content from us,” says Blanco. “Not only music but other stuff as well. We’re about to have our own TV show, a cartoon, that’s about to drop. This is all stuff that we do on the side. We have friends that are animators so we’re working on something. And more music, man. Music and music videos. Hopefully tour when this is all over. We were supposed to hit the road when we got back from Europe, but this all put a damper on that. Right now, all you can really do is put out music, put out content and stay active like that. So that’s what we’re doing.”
That TV show is intriguing, and subscribers to their Instagram page will be familiar with the skits that they post.
“It’s stuff that we do by ourselves for the internet, but it’s something that me and Blanco definitely take seriously, and we want that to be another tool in our shed,” says Guapo. “It’s stuff we do with our friends — we film it and post it on the internet. We spoof MTV Cribs, Real World, Fox News, all kinds of stuff. And we recently linked up with an animator so I’m thinking about starting a one-minute cartoon series on Instagram. Some comedy shit, just to show the layers. We’re not just fucking rappers. Although we’re very dope rappers, we’re very dope at other stuff too.”
To conclude, we ask why the duo why the world needs Coyote in 2020?
“They don’t but fuck it — we’re coming anyway,” says Blanco with a laugh.
“They’ve never seen two Mexican dudes do it like this in the hip-hop industry,” adds Guapo. “It’s going to be a huge shockwave.”
Coyote’s Legally Illegal EP is out in October.