“There's more of us who want to live than those of them who wish to sleep, you've got to decide on your own, are you a clone or a sheep or a miracle walking, left over dust from a star, because THAT'S what you are...”
— Rico Pabón
An emcee whose artistry and activism are one in the same, Rico Pabón has been delivering poetic lyrics bound by themes of struggle and resilience for more than 25 years in the Bay Area. Raised in a home torn apart by drug abuse, Rico grew up moving between various cities in the Bay and New York, with a few stops in Boston, and at an early age discovered that writing helped to ease the pain and anxiety that he experienced daily, so he began writing profusely. Writing made him ask questions and seek answers, and his notebook became a window to a world beyond his own personal woes, politicizing him. He began to see that not only his home, but whole communities were falling apart because of addiction and trauma, and that not only him, but children everywhere were sometimes more afraid of living, than they were of dying.
By age 15, Rico found his voice as an emcee, starting his first group, Prophets of Rage, which was politically charged and full of fire, and Pabón hasn't slowed down since. He later became singer and emcee for critically acclaimed Afro Latin Fusion bands O-Maya and AguaLibre, whose blend of salsa, hip hop and reggae allowed them to share stages with international artists such as Damian and Stephen Marley, Ozomatli, Buju Banton, Femi Kuti, Zap Mama, Meshell N'degeocello, Maxi Priest, Sizzla, Run DMC, Wu Tang Clan, dead prez, Big Daddy Kane, and Kurtis Blow. Pabón has had his songs placed in nighttime television dramas "October Road" and "CSI: Miami" and he has appeared on numerous recordings and has shared the stage with an array of highly acclaimed artists, across many genres of music. He toured with Bay Area legend and Grammy nominated Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir, where he rapped, sang, and also played minor percussion. He currently performs as an emcee, poet and singer with another Bay Area legend, and 5 time Grammy nominated latin jazz artist John Santos, and is currently finishing up an album produced entirely by Headnodic, of Crown City Rockers, which Rico says is his favorite album up to date.
His musical expressions have taken different shapes over the years, but no matter which musical configuration Rico Pabón finds himself in, his message has remained clear. He has has released 6 full length albums and has appeared on numerous compilations and collaborations garnering him much critical acclaim. A natural performer, Rico's vocal stamina, clarity and rhythm, combined with a passionate delivery and poetic lyrics make his energy on stage explosive and captivating.
Musician and historian John Santos says, "Rico is exceptional in many ways, highly creative and motivated, and deeply dedicated to social change through the arts. I've also observed him extensively, performing and teaching folks of all ages. His enthusiasm is both remarkable and contagious as he engages his audiences and students with his obvious passion and abilities to communicate on multi-levels. He has truly earned the respect of his peers and has inspired countless observers and participants through his commitment to the development of art and self-expression in our neighborhoods. To those of us of Puerto Rican descent, he is especially an unsung hero and treasure whom we proudly hold up as the face and voice of our community. In addition to the above-mentioned facts and observations, Rico's most impressive trait is his demeanor and dignity. One of the finest human beings I have ever had the pleasure of knowing."
“Grabbing the mic is a privilege, because people died for the right to write and recite, so you might just want to respect that lineage. Begin to see your gift for what it really is, the ability to to shift ideas into traditions, now that's the power of a true lyricist. ”
— Rico Pabón
“Our chance for change is coming down to the wire, but now, our eyes are open so we won't ignore the fire.”
— Rico Pabón