Growing Up Latino With Eskeerdo
Even if you couldn't put a face to producer, rapper, and Grammy award-winning songwriter Eskeerdo, you know and love his music. The multi-faceted artist has lent his talents to the likes of Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar, Big Sean, Ice Cube, Trina and many more. Esteemed résumé aside, Alexander Izquierdo is one proud Latino having grown up in the largest Cuban district in the United States: Hialeah, Florida.
Albeit his music might not directly reflect the rich latinidad from which his orgullo stems, it took traveling outside of Miami for Eskeerdo to realize that not everyone was brought up on a diet heavy with rice and beans, or that watching Sabado Gigante religiously wasn't the thing to do. As an adult, he expanded his proverbial horizons and experienced a whole new world outside of Little Havana. Yet, in Eskeerdo's case, the old age "you don't know where you're going until you know where you've been" rings far true.
Unforgettable childhood memory:
When I used to get whooped for all my brother’s mistakes, for everything he used to! He’s older than me. No matter what, I would get the ass whooping. I’ve been hit with every object in the book: sandals, flyswatters, wooden spoons, vacuum hoses, everything. My mom speaks English, but whenever she’s trying to whoop my ass, she’ll scream at me in Spanish. So whenever my mom talks in Spanish to me, I run. Even to this day.
Favorite home cooked dish:
I’ve got a few, but two dishes my mom makes [I love] is picadillo, which is ground beef, rice and black beans with fried plantains. My moms got this family recipe that my grandmother passed down to her. I can’t find better picadillo anywhere else. That and her palomilla steak with moro and tostones.
Craziest Hispanic proverb as told by mami or abuela:
My old girl used to tell me “Lo que esta pa ti, nadie no lo quita” or “What’s for you, no one can take away.” That’s the one that I still stand by today.
Che Guevara moment (or greatest moment of rebellion):
Well, me and my brother always used to fight. I’ve got two half-brothers who are four years older than me and we used to fight a lot. I’ve always been the little, big brother. So one day, me and this man were hitting each other with pillows, but he faked me out and swung with the pillow then a right hook came, and laid me out. So the next time I put all the remote controls in the pillowcase and I cracked his shit open. It was funny until all the blood was everywhere and I felt like sh*t. But that was the first, most rebellious thing I did.
I first saw myself as Latino when…
I’ve never really known anything else. I didn’t know any actual Caucasian people. I’ve always felt connected, even though I’m a first generation Cuban-American. In my household, we always spoke Spanish even though my mom and dad both spoke English. I’m from the largest Cuban community in America. So feeling anything other than Hispanic never happened to me. I didn’t even start eating other food until I started traveling. I thought everybody ate rice and beans and carne asada. Until I started experiencing other cultures, I didn’t know anything else.
Chupacabra or El Cuco?
La Chupacabra. I remember when La Chupacabra was on the news, bro. They said that there was a “chupacabra” incident. Man that was our big foot. My mom would use that against us too. She would be like “I know la chupacabra too. I’ll bring him over here.” And me being little, I was like “what are you talking bout?” crying and all. They used that against me so many times. And I thought it was real.
Poor man’s meal:
Vienna sausages. The salchichas. That was my go-to snack right there. I ate Ramen here and there, but I would literally put Vienna sausages on everything. I’d put them on crackers, in between bread, or dump the water out and eat right out of the can.
Even as a kid when I was sick, I would take a shot of rum, honey, and lemon. Since I could remember, whenever I had a cold, my old girl would make me take a shot of rum, with honey and lemon. Then she would put Vick’s on a spoon and light that shit like it was heroine and put it on my chest. I don’t know where these remedies came from, but the next day everything went away. And if that didn’t work, then a super-hot chicken soup.
Salsa, Bachata or Reggaeton?
Salsa man. I’m Cuban. Salsa is the dance of choice. I mean, I’m not really good at it. I think I let the family down with salsa. I know the first four steps, and then I lose it. I don’t know why. I think the salsa train stopped at my brother and I didn’t get the movement.
Telenovela guilty pleasure:
There was never anything that we really sat down and watched but my grandfather used to watch Sabado Gigante. Don Francisco was on 24 hours a day at my grandfather’s house. He didn’t watch anything else. I’d only sit down so I could watch the girls.
My Mother. My mother has been my rock for like ever. I was raised in a single-parent home. My mom didn’t have it easy neither did my father. We weren’t easy children either, between my brothers being in the streets and my struggles [leaving] the streets. She still held sh*t down and raised two great men. For us to be wild and reckless and for her to still have everything under control and still teaching us morals in between that. She always put us first.
Realistically, nothing is promised in life and you’ve got to work hard to keep what you have. This is where “Lo que esta pa ti, nadie no lo quita” comes right back around. My life mantra is “If you want it, you’ll get it.” If you really want it, just have the blind faith and go at it. It’s that hustler’s spirit.