There’s something special about a homegrown duo of innovative musicians being invited to the nation's capitol.
"We were just talking about how one day we gonna bring the Raka party to the White House," says Raka Rich, half of the Oakland-by-way-of-Panama hip-hop duo Los Rakas. Just a few days later, they got an email inviting them to the April 30 Brioxy White House Summit, where they had the opportunity to perform for and meet with senior staff of color.
It marked a big step for the East Bay group. “I feel like we've been innovating the music,” Raka Dun says. And both believe they're opening doors for other artists by being creative with both language and style.
Los Rakas are cousins who began their musical experimentation in Oakland with strong influences from their Panamanian background. The name “Raka” comes from the Panamanian slur “Rakataka,” a derogatory word for someone from the ghetto, or an impoverished neighborhood. But the duo have reclaimed the term, inverting its meaning: "A Raka is someone who is going to do whatever it takes to provide for their family," Raka Dun says.
To that end, they’ve created their own unique style: “Panabay,” a loud and unique hybrid of Panama and the Bay Area.