The problem came after the death of Christopher Rios. Big Pun became the first Latino rapper out of NYC to go platinum and be considered by hip-hop enthusiasts as a member of the coveted “Top 10 Dead or Alive” faction. Pun breaking down the walls for Latino rappers to walk into the game proved to be both a gift and a curse like Shawn Carter’s 6th album. Since he’s passed the Latino community’s been waiting on the 2nd coming of CHRISTopher Rios and hearing dudes claiming to be that isn’t helping their cause. No matter how nasty Termanology, Omar Cruz, Joell Ortiz or Tru Life come with it, they’ll be considered Latino rappers before being considered rappers, period. And because of this they’ll never measure up to the king of the Boogie Down who rapped with 4 lungs and in turn won’t be taken too seriously.

Now here we have Nino Bless (a Boricua) entering the game with The Latin Marksman mixtape. I will say the kid Bless is nice and he’s been making the internet rounds creating a pretty decent buzz for himself. You can’t do that if you don’t possess some kind of skills.

In a lot of ways, Nino is a throwback to what a NY MC used to be about. Taking a threatening street beat, and just rapping his ass off with good rhymes and original metaphors with a flow as consistent as a Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf at the free throw line. Take his rhyme off of, “Can I Live,” where son spit, “If I end up in a dry cell, cause you tell/you gonna end up in an all white cast like Seinfeld/I’m tryin’ sell but can’t figure out my clientele/I don’t dress like a fag and I got rhyme skills/and I’m real, where do I fit in? real rhyme spittin’/guess they don’t see what’s my vision.” He said a few thought provoking things right there.

Also to my surprise the BK native took the time to pay homage to Bone Thugs of all groups with his “Tribute to Bone Thugs” joint where he imitated their style and actually did it justice. He continued the creativity on “Murdera” and used a Jamaican accent to freak the song.

I can’t front on Nino. Son is a damn good rapper, but the only thing that bothers me is that he isn’t breaking any new ground with his material. I know it’s not easy to make a street cut like, “Candyman,” and turn around and collab with Akon to make a more mainstream joint like “Changed Man” and in the process be able to maintain authenticity, but he’s not making songs or music as much as he’s just rapping and MCing on dope beats. When NB wasn’t rapping like Bone Thugs or like a Rasta, he sounded kind of bland. The dude is nice and the mixtape itself was dope. It had a bunch of head boppers and bangers, but the lack of character, concept and direction on his music can easily cause him to get lost in the new school shuffle. You look at dudes like Termanology with the quick flow and rhyme filled sentences or Joel Ortiz with the sinus stuffed voice flow and ridiculous metaphors and they each stand out amongst their peers because of that. Sometimes being dope isn’t as important as it is to have some kind of shtick. It sucks, but the truth hurts.

All I can say is from this day forward I’ll be rooting for Nino to get some recognition while he polishes his style. And I will give him one thing over every other Latino rapper: he’s the first one to say, “I ain’t tryin’ to be Pun’s successor.” That’s a good start to separate the past from the future.-The Infamous O

Hottest Joint: “Murdera”

Weakest Joint: “Superman Freestyle”