Before Proyecto Akwid put the group on the map in 2003, Akwid released an album called 2002 A.D.under the labels Banyan and 2-K Sounds. Neglected when it was first released, 2002 A.D. has since been repackaged; nine of its 21 songs were rereleased in February with new production and guest appearances from other L.A. rappers -- Dyablo, Seven and Mr. Sancho among them -- as part of a new CD called Hoy, Ayer and Forever.
When the brothers began singing and rapping in broken, slang-ridden Spanish, they went back to their roots and silenced the critics who once accused them of mimicking black music. Now they've done something more. They still rely heavily on hip-hop beats, but by incorporating Mexican horns and percussion, they have created a distinctly Chicano style of rap. "The place where we grew up helped us mold our personalities," says Francisco. To him, all Akwid is trying to do is to encourage young Mexicans to be themselves. "A lot of people are afraid of saying they're Mexican, or feel embarrassed to admit they're illegal" immigrants, he says. "By having fun, we're trying to tell them they're not alone in feeling those kind of things."