Politically charged rapper Emilio Rojas is on the verge of breaking into mainstream hip hop – but he’s not coming quietly.
Desperate to make it in the music business, Rojas left the University of Rochester and hitched a ride to Brooklyn in 2006. He wound up in an illegally subdivided apartment with six other people in Bay Ridge.
“It was cramped as hell, but I made it work,” the outspoken 27-year-old said. “I knew I needed to be in New York to launch my career, so I did what I had to do.”
“I feed him beats, and he does his thing on them,” said DJ Lantern, whose real name is James D’Agostino. “He’s real talented; he’s something different. A lot of guys put on this facade and try to be what the public wants them to be, but not him.”
One track on Rojas’ latest mixtape, “Life Without Shame,” has made a splash on the Web, with hip-hop blogs comparing him to Eminem. The single “Right to Stay” tells the fictional story of an illegal Mexican immigrant woman who is sexually, physically and verbally abused by a rogue immigration agent.
“How many aliens are living in your casa? I’ll put the pistol to you like you Elian Gonzalez,” he raps on the single. “And I’ll send you back to Juarez, but unless you got some dollars, then maybe I can help you fix your problems.”
Rojas said listeners can be enlightened by his thought-provoking lyrics.
“When you call attention to something in a graphic way, you can get them to notice something they haven’t thought twice about before,” said Rojas, who now lives in Washington Heights. “My father is Venezuelan, and I’m trying to reconnect with those roots. This is real stuff that happens. It’s a human rights issue.”
Rojas is taking his talents overseas at the end of the month and is set to headline at the Make the Hood Look Good Festival in Switzerland. He’s already had top billing at concerts in Paris, Madrid and Grenada, and is touring six Australian cities starting in June.
Although he’s not yet signed to a label, he says he’s got a few deals in the works.
“Sky’s the limit for him,” D’Agostino said. “He touches on political stuff that a lot of people don’t. People are definitely talking about it.”
BY SARAH ARMAGHAN
DAILY NEWS WRITER