BROWNS CREW ISN’T just hip-hop duo Cristo Paz and El Sebas – it’s also a band, a vibe, a community. Paz and Sebas won Song of the Year at last year’s Radio Milwaukee Music Awards for the Spanish single, “Mil Aires.” And they’ve just released an eponymous EP.
What’s your origin story?
Paz: We met in middle school [but we began thinking of ourselves as Browns Crew] on a trip to Oaxaca in 2011.
Sebas: We were on a community-organizing trip [that] really opened our eyes to how art is used as a tool of resistance. We would see protest graffiti in the street. We were housed with somebody who ran a pirate radio to get out information. Just being in that environment … really leveled up our consciousness.
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You record music both as solo projects and Browns Crew. How do you differentiate them?
Sebas: The way we see it, Browns Crew is Cris and I. If I drop a track without Cris, I’m “Sebas of Browns Crew,” and the same for Cris, with the same understanding. I think it’s really healthy to do that because we feed off each other, and it gives us a chance to explore.
You do such a great job blending cultures and genres – is that intentional?
Paz: A lot of my family doesn’t speak English. When I first started rapping, I only rapped in English. I want something my family can understand. I want something that makes sense to them.
The full interview is available at radiomilwaukee.org.