Written By: Zach Champ
Photographs Provided by BigGucciRossa
DMV MUSIC & ART: Hoodie Goodies recently had the opportunity to meet with and interview the Washington D.C based Spanish rapper and artist BigGucciRossa.
BigGucciRossa shares with us how his personal experiences growing up in the DMV and Peru helped shape and influence his art. He also talks about his passion for graffiti and urban fashion and new projects he will be premiering soon.
Learn more about BigGucciRossa and check out links to his new mix-tape and music videos in this Interview with the Artist article, only on Hoodie Goodies!
HI AND THANKS FOR JOINING US!
CAN YOU START BY TELLING OUR READERS WHO YOU ARE?
BigGucciRossa: “Hey everyone, my name is Rafael but most people know me through my music and art as BigGucciRossa.”
SO WHERE IN THE DMV ARE YOU FROM?
BigGucciRossa: “I currently live in Washington D.C."
BigGucciRossa: "I’ve lived all over the DMV and spent my teenage years growing up here in the District of Columbia, Prince George County Maryland, and parts of Northern Virginia."
BigGucciRossa: "However, I am originally from Peru which is where I was born and spent most of my childhood.”
BigGucciRossa: “I met my girlfriend in Northern Virginia, and she’s now the mother of our firstborn son. Most of my friends are from around the DMV area. I’m very connected with the region.”
CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT WHAT DO YOU DO?
BigGucciRossa: “Absolutely! I’m essentially a creative artist."
BigGucciRossa: "Currently, I create music as a Spanish trap rapper and I am a graffiti artist specializing in murals and painting characters.”
BigGucciRossa: “I love art in general, and I have experimented and dabbled in other mediums like wood carving and canvas painting."
BigGucciRossa: "I would maybe one day like to get more into those mediums, but it is more of a hobby than a serious pursuit."
BigGucciRossa: "In my free time I enjoy doodling and drawing abstract forms and cartoon characters. I've designed my own tattoos and in the future, I will be designing my own album and mixtape artwork."
BigGucciRossa: "With that being said I consider graffiti and my music to be my main primary creative focus."
BigGucciRossa: “I like to paint murals because they tell stories. My goal in my art, whether it’s graffiti or music is to tell stories about me and where I came from. I want to expose people to the same circumstances and situations that I have seen."
BigGucciRossa: "I think with graffiti and music I can express myself and break down the negative or dark aspects of my life and reconstruct them in a creative and positive manner.”
WHAT KIND OF MUSIC DO YOU CREATE?
BigGucciRossa: “I make Gangster Rap and Trap Music. There are several projects I am currently working on."
BigGucciRossa: “Recently, I dropped my premiere mix-tape The Beginning of the End (2019) which you can find in the links below.”
BigGucciRossa: "I also have an upcoming all-Spanish mix-tape which I will be releasing on my Sound Cloud, Bandcamp, Spotify, and other music platforms.”
BigGucciRossa: “If you check out my YouTube channel I have several completed music videos from The Beginning of the End (2019) as well as a few stand-alone singles which I will slowly be publishing over the next few weeks, so stay tuned for that!”
WHY GANGSTER RAP AND TRAP?
ISN’T THAT A LITTLE DARK OR NEGATIVE?
BigGucciRossa: “NO, I don’t believe so! Like I said before, it’s just me talking about past experiences that I’ve gone through and that my friends and peers have gone thru and trying to do something constructive and meaningful with those experiences.”
BigGucciRossa: “I feel like I have a lot to say. Not trying to sound stereotypical here, but I’ve seen a lot of stuff in the streets here of D.C, but also back home in Peru which is a third world country."
BigGucciRossa: "I have this sort of global perspective that allows me to see things differently, so with my rap and music it is a way for me to share these stories and provide new takes on them.”
BigGucciRossa: “I have this one song called Lost Hope and the lyrics are talking about my past issues fighting with family members and dealing with low self-esteem and feelings of doubt.”
BigGucciRossa: “In a lot of my lyrics I talk about struggles with identity and my sense of self and who I was as a person."
BigGucciRossa: "In middle school and high school, I struggled with the public school system, and I had some problems with learning English after moving to Washington D.C from Peru. This is part of why I got in trouble so much because I felt uncomfortable at school because of my insecurities. I sometimes today still feel insecure about certain issues and this is reflected in my music.”
WHATS BEING FROM PERU LIKE?
HOW DOES IT INFLUENCE YOUR MUSIC & ART?
BigGucciRossa: “Peru will always be home to me. It is a third world country so there is a lot of poverty. Growing up I wasn’t accustomed to luxury and my mom was very strict."
BigGucciRossa: "I had to obey and follow so many rules, which is probably why I became so rebellious as I got older."
BigGucciRossa: "It’s only now that I am older that I realize many of my mom’s old rules and strictness at home were because of are living circumstances and situation.”
BigGucciRossa: “When I was a child growing up in Peru, my Dad worked and lived in the United States. Both my parents would still speak with each other, and my Dad would send money and toys regularly. I didn’t really get to meet him until I was older as a teenager.”
BigGucciRossa: “Peru is a beautiful country, I think more people should go to visit it! I love my homeland and one of my goals as an artist is to help show other people in the DMV and beyond what Peru has to offer culturally. I think many people in the United States would enjoy Peru. Maybe I can inspire them to visit!”
BigGucciRossa: “For me, Peru is a chapter of my life that reflects on where I came from and what made me who I am today."
BigGucciRossa: "It was in Peru that I first gained an interest in visual art and where I also began my passion for graffiti."
BigGucciRossa: "There is a strong rap and urban culture scene in Peru, so I would hang out with local teens and young adults who participated in this type of culture and who enjoyed rap and hip-hop."
BigGucciRossa: "I slowly started to learn how to freestyle rap during this time and I can remember hanging out in the streets with other artists and coming up with flowing rhymes and spitting bars... These were key moments for me as I became an artist and rapper over time.”
BigGucciRossa: “Eventually both my parents decided it would be better for me if I grew up in a better environment and things were prepared so I could get my papers and move from Peru to America to live with my Dad.”
BigGucciRossa: “When I was living in the DMV as a teenager I got involved with a bunch of other kids that were up to no good."
BigGucciRossa: "I stopped focusing on school and was getting into more trouble. I basically became a juvenile delinquent."
BigGucciRossa: "Eventually, my Dad and Stepmom got tired of my shit and I got kicked out of their house. With nowhere to go, I ended up getting even more involved with the streets.”
BigGucciRossa: “This all culminated with me getting deported back to Peru when I was 17 years old. This was perhaps one of the scariest moments of my life. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen or if I would be able to come back to America."
BigGucciRossa: "Luckily, as a minor, the consequences were not too severe and I just ended up moving back to my mom’s house and living with her again.”
BigGucciRossa: “It was weird for me transitioning back to Peru after I had spent all of my teenage years growing up in America. I think I had a reverse culture shock."
BigGucciRossa: "I ended up staying there for 1 year and this is where my art journey began with graffiti.”
HOW DID GROWING UP IN THE DMV INFLUENCE YOUR MUSIC?
BigGucciRossa: “I’m a Spanish artist from Peru, but I also grew up in inner-city neighborhoods here in D.C and Maryland. As a result, urban culture and rap music played a very significant part of my childhood and teenage years.”
BigGucciRossa: “Growing up in Washington D.C, most of my friends were black so I grew up listening to the same music that they did including Wu-Tang Clan, Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, Lil Kat, and even Go-Go music! I have always listened to different types of music.”
BigGucciRossa: “One of my goals as an artist is to demonstrate that you can come from anywhere and still make great music.
BigGucciRossa: "I don’t think you necessarily have to come from the ghetto or hood to make gangsta rap or trap music, I want to show that many people face the same similar struggles with drugs and violence and related conditions in other countries. Perhaps this is why gangsta rap and trap music is so popular all over the world and not just here in America.”
BigGucciRossa: “My dad grew up in the United States, and when I was a kid in Peru he was living and working up north. He was the person who first introduced me to rap music. I remember him mailing packages to my mom that contained cassettes and CDs for us to listen to. Whenever he visited he would bring with him the latest American rap and hip-hop albums.”
BigGucciRossa: “My dad is also a huge fan of Salsa and instrumental dance music. He is a music producer and manager himself for local Spanish bands in the Washington D.C metro area. I remember when living with my dad as a teenager in D.C, he would take me to the park on 16th Street, where he would have both of us play in these drum circles where everyone was drumming and dancing…”
BigGucciRossa: “I would say my dad is responsible for giving me my taste and ability to appreciate ‘good’ music, you know just people getting together and jamming live while having a good time. It’s because of his influence, exposing me to instrumental live music at an early age that I really learned to respect musical talent, especially in regards to being able to entertain and perform for a large crowd of people and make them excited with only the power of music.”
WHATS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF MARIJUANA IN YOUR LYRICS AND MUSIC VIDEOS?
WHATS YOUR PERSONAL VIEWS ON WEED?
BigGucciRossa: “I love marijuana! Cannabis plays a significant role in my life and I am not ashamed to admit that.”
BigGucciRossa: “I live in Washington D.C which is one of the weed capitals of the East Coast. We have legalized recreational and medical marijuana here in the District of Columbia and many people smoke. There’s also edibles and all types of other products like lotions and creams. You can buy these products in stores or you can find them on the street."
BigGucciRossa: "The Washington D.C weed game is wild, there is nothing else like it!”
BigGucciRossa: “For me personally, I like marijuana, but not just the smoking and getting high aspect, but rather the actual plant itself."
BigGucciRossa: "To me the fact that a plant like cannabis exists is insane. It has all these benefits and it’s so easy to grow. It can feed you and make you feel good, you can turn its fiber into rope. That’s insane.”
BigGucciRossa: “Nothing makes me feel more satisfied than when I see marijuana growing in its natural setting, organically in some dark and rich soil.”
BigGucciRossa: “When I was in Peru, the weed was always shitty and low-quality. It wasn’t appealing for me. I didn’t smoke weed until I came to the United States and started hanging out with other teenagers here in the DMV. When I saw what REAL weed looked, smoked, and tasted like, it suddenly made sense for me haha.”
BigGucciRossa: “When I was growing up I was always told that smoking weed was bad, it was always portrayed as a hard drug. My mom would tell me that weed would make me a lazy person, turn me into a bum, all of these things. So one of my pet peeves is the whole idea of being a lazy stoner.”
BigGucciRossa: “Marijuana helps me be productive. It helps me in creating my art, making my music, with working. I hate when people blame their problems on weed, it’s not the weed that is causing these issues but their own shortcomings. Maybe they are unmotivated, maybe they lack ambition, but it’s not fair to blame weed on these things.”
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN MAKING ART?
BigGucciRossa: “My mom is responsible for getting me interested in art. She knew that from an early age that, I had a fascination with art. I've always loved drawing and doodling."
BigGucciRossa: "Even today I have a sketchbook where I draw different characters, practice my lettering, and get inspired to produce my more abstract and imaginative pieces."
BigGucciRossa: "I remember as a kid when my mom would take me to the open-air market, or Mercado, and she would buy me these notebooks to draw and color in."
BigGucciRossa: "We didn’t have many luxury items and toys growing up, but when my mom bought stuff like this for me, I was so excited, it was like Christmas in July *lol*.”
BigGucciRossa: “My mom is awesome because she wouldn’t just buy the art materials and supplies, but she would try and tell me to focus on drawing specific objects we had around the house or to focus on drawing the everyday scenes around us."
BigGucciRossa: "She always tried to help cultivate my passion and skills in art, and I’ll always appreciate my mom for doing that because I know that many parents don’t support their children’s interests and hobbies.”
BigGucciRossa: “When I was in Peru I took an art class that was at our town’s local university."
BigGucciRossa: "The class was taught by a respected graffiti artist who goes by the street name of Trazo.”
BigGucciRossa: “Trazo is legendary in South America and even has a huge following in Europe. He’s been all over the world on these amazing art tours, and he is widely known for his awe-inspiring abstract and realistic graffiti murals."
BigGucciRossa: "In many ways, he is on the same level as Banksy in terms of their notoriety in the graffiti community.”
BigGucciRossa: “In the class, he taught the fundamentals of how to paint with spray cans."
BigGucciRossa: "Through his instruction and knowledge, both in this class and then later on the streets, Trazo became my first mentor who introduced me to graffiti."
BigGucciRossa: "He was the one who first showed me all the hot local murals and artist tags hidden throughout the city."
BigGucciRossa: "He helped network me with other local graffiti artists and explained the rules of conduct for the art form and scene. When it comes to graffiti, I owe him everything!”
“Graffiti is where I found myself artistically. The genre is my preferred form of creative expression. It represents everything that is core to my character as a person. The freedom, the style, the risk, it captivates me.”
BigGucciRossa: “With graffiti, I’m able to express myself on every inch of the wall, I’m free to conceptualize and experiment and create this display of art which is exposed to the public yet is also private because it is uniquely mine.”
BigGucciRossa: “I can make my own gallery out of the streets and thousands of people living in the city can see it and be influenced by it, whereas a private art gallery or museum is something for only privileged or wealthy people to enjoy and experience.”
BigGucciRossa: “When I was in Peru, I would go out almost every night. I would meet up with all the old and new artists and would keep developing my skills."
BigGucciRossa: "By the time I had moved back to the United States, I already was considered a seasoned graffiti artist so I was ready to make a REAL name for myself in the scene here in Washington D.C.”
BigGucciRossa: “I will say that spray paint here is way better than in Peru *lol*.
BigGucciRossa: “As both a graffiti artist and rapper, I want to expand and show people what I am capable of doing."
BigGucciRossa: "I often feel like people don’t quite realize just yet my full artistic capabilities and skills."
BigGucciRossa: "I’m very eager to demonstrate everything I’ve learned from my teachers and mentors back in Peru and grab attention here in America.”
IS THERE ANY OTHER CREATIVE PROJECTS YOU ARE WORKING ON?
BigGucciRossa: “I’m continuously working on practicing and perfecting my graffiti. I want to eventually transform my art into an urban brand."
BigGucciRossa: "The graffiti scene in Washington D.C is unique and exciting. There are many cool locations hidden throughout the city. I love exploring these places and leaving my mark."
BigGucciRossa: "One thing I have noticed is that more artists are getting commissioned by local businesses and building owners to help paint beautiful murals and pieces of art to enhance the visual appearance of a city block or neighborhood."
BigGucciRossa: "I love this idea and I hope I can get the opportunity to participate in a similar mural or two in the Washington D.C area during 2020.”
BigGucciRossa: “Another creative project of mine that I currently am working on developing is my brand as an urban fashion model.”
BigGucciRossa: “I think fashion is an important aspect of hip-hop and rap music as well as urban culture."
BigGucciRossa: "One of my philosophies is that a man should dress sharply. The style and quality of clothes you wear are a form of flexing- from your shoes to your shirt, to your wristwatch."
BigGucciRossa: "As a rapper, it's important for me to focus on cultivating a specific visual identity and style that is distinctively mine and which adds to my character as BigGucciRossa.”
BigGucciRossa: “Rather than spend my time and money on designing custom clothing, I want to focus on providing commentary on what’s currently hot and interesting in urban fashion."
BigGucciRossa: "One thing about me that only my close friends and associates know is that I am a huge sneaker-head, I am obsessed with shoes!”
BigGucciRossa: “I am working on some cool projects in regards to fashion and I am excited to premiere those in the next few weeks!”
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR 2020 AND BEYOND?
BigGucciRossa: “My goal is to become a complete artist and to have published works in different genres. I have many ideas, and I am constantly thinking of new ways to creatively express myself.”
BigGucciRossa: “During 2020 I want to begin performing shows at local venues in Washington D.C, Virginia, and Maryland.”
BigGucciRossa: “In the meantime, I plan on continuing creating new music, developing my brand as BigGucciRossa, and releasing music videos and mixtapes.”
BigGucciRossa: “I want to go back and visit Peru for a few weeks or a month or two, and get re-inspired and reinvigorated.”
BigGucciRossa: “I still have many friends and family and past mentors that still live in Peru, and I would enjoy a chance to show them in person what I have accomplished so far as an artist in America!"
BigGucciRossa: "It’s something I am truly proud of and want to share with them, I hope it inspires others from my community!”