AP NEWS

Frankie J and Baby Bash have perfect musical chemistry

December 20, 2017

It’s been a while since Frankie J and rapper Baby Bash put out music together.

Though the musicians have been known to cash in on hit-making singles, such as their 2003 hit “Suga Suga,” they had yet to put their heads together for an entire album.

“We’re like menudo and lemon; it just goes perfect together,” Bash says, referring to Mexican stew that’s well known as a hangover cure. But their chemistry as musicians started to coalesce long before their chart topper became a reality.

It was in the late 1990s in Houston, where Baby Bash found his footing as an MC. A transplant from the San Francisco Bay Area, he made his mark in rap as a writer and took his skills to Texas to work under South Park Mexican and his Dope House Records label. It was here that he eventually partnered with Frankie J, who was part of Selena’s brother’s group, Kumbia Kings.

Their collaboration “Suga Suga” ended up on Baby Bash’s major-label debut album. It’s a syrupy pop tune with a low-rider type of groove and became a sleeper hit.

The track was built on a Barry White sample and a guitar lick crafted by Houston producer Happy Perez, who also appears on Frankie J and Baby Bash’s full-length album, “Sangria,” that dropped earlier this fall. With its breezy, sexy and bilingual vibe, the album has a similar tone to their previous efforts.

The partnership of Bash and Frankie J is unique in R&B and hip-hop.

“There hasn’t really been anybody else prior to what we’ve done, you know, being Mexicano and doing some, you know, rhythm and blues. It’s a market that is so dominated by the African-American race and by the Caucasian race as well,” Frankie J says. “Being Mexicano, believe it or not, I went through a lot of challenges.”

He was drawn to the sounds of R&B and what crooners could do with their voices, he says, noting that he drew his early inspirations from groups such as the Force MDs and Ready for the World, and later All for One, Shy and more.

For Baby Bash, who has had a successful career and even opened his own marijuana business in California, “Sangria” is a testament to the creativity of Mexican-American music artists.

“Mexicans in this rap game, they try to blend us together with other Latinos,” he says, referring to reggaeton artists who are generally from the Caribbean. “Mexican-American artists, we get treated a lot different. There are other Mexicans who are so talented, and they just don’t get the love that they deserve.”

For that reason, “Sangria” is stacked with guest appearances by performers who share a lot of the same background, including up-and-coming Atlanta rapper Kap-G, Chicano rapper MC Magic, Texas singer Paula DeAnda, Chiquis Rivera and Mexican rapper C-Kan. Los Angeles legend Kid Frost also appears on a reworking of War’s classic rock staple “Low Rider.”

Bash, who streams his “Talent Tuesdays” talent showcase at 6 p.m. Tuesdays on Instagram, is hoping eventually to tour with the “Sangria” album and give out free samples of sangria when the tour kicks off. For him, it’s more than just an alcoholic beverage.

“Sangria means blood, and it represents the bond me and Frankie J have,” he says. “Plus, sangria is a classy drink, you know?”