Live From Underground is a showcase created by the duo of Rosangelica Lopez and Sunny Vazquez (who you may also know by their names of BRONXINIAN and DJ Sunny Cheeba, respectively). The main purpose of their showcase is to highlight the notable voices in of the New York underground music scene, but LFU is also just open to anyone with a voice. There’s one simple rule: be yourself. Rosangelica, a performer at heart, makes it her mission to spread positivity and love. She talked with us about her Bronx pride, music, and plans for the showcase.
Where in The Bronx are you from?
I'm from the Kingsbridge area. I've lived in the same building on Bailey Ave with my family ever since a baby.
How long have you lived there?
22 years. Born and raised.
What personas do you go by?
I go by Rosangelica, Rosie or Rose. Never forgot where I come from and I never will. I am who I am. Trying to fit another standard of beauty, or attempting to fit into another person other than who I am, requires more work than necessary. I'm cool with me. I won't respond to any other name. My existence is not an act for the enjoyment of others. When I'm on stage or creating, then we can fit my art into the category of performance and entertainment.
When and how did your love for The Bronx develop?
My love for The Bronx is deep rooted. Starts with my family. When my parents came here from Cuba and Colombia, they came to and were completely on their own in the South Bronx. True warriors of their time, they came here to send money back home where things were way worse. I can only imagine what they saw growing up here. My parents are decades older than me, believe it or not. I didn't have the usual upbringing. They have seen a lot and lost many friends in the process.
I went to the same school from K-8th grade. Although it was a small school, we had a strong sense of community. Everyone lived within blocks of each other so running into one another still is a common thing today. We'd have our usual days like heading to the local park on a half day, or going to McDonald's and causing havoc. We would slide down the slide with plastic trays as well as play spitball in the play place. I've got nothing but good memories growing up in this neighborhood and to see it transform now is both a blessing and a curse.
On the one hand, we have more venues for live music. On the other hand, we've got another mall architecturally designed to resemble a jail. We don't need another mall. Especially not a mall without windows. What a huge slap in the face. An accessible community center close to the train would be ideal. Guess it's up to us to build it.
Where did your love for Hip-hop and music stem from?
My father used to sing with me as early as 3 years old. He would play salsa for me and sing Guantanamera with me all the time. I'm thankful for him because a fear of singing in public was never really an issue I had. It's almost like I was born to perform. I started taking piano lessons and theory in The Bronx, and then moved on to continue in Scarsdale. A highly fortunate child, my Dad bought me a piano when I was nine and the rest was history.
Around the same time, I bought my first couple CD's: Kanye West's "Late Registration," Eminem's "The Eminem Show" and Alicia Keys' "Diary of Alicia Keys.” These albums broadened my understanding of hip-hop as a universal genre where women and men could participate and grow together. These individuals molded many of my philosophies and, most importantly, my musical tastes. In high school, I participated in musical theater and always scored a lead role. The last role I played was Motormouth Maybelle in Hairspray. There's nothing like performing in front of hundreds and having them reciprocate your energy. This is what I want to do. When I turned 20, I purchased my first guitar. I've been writing hits ever since and I don't think I'll ever stop. The philosophy behind picking up guitar was, "The greatest songwriters have all played guitar and used it to further their songwriting abilities." Since buying my guitar I've written over 50 songs.
Where did the name "BRONXINIAN" come from?
BRONXINIAN was a word I coined back in 2012 as I needed a word to define being a Bronx native/resident in modern times. My generation came way after the term "Bronxite." We need something a bit more groovy; a word we can identify with. Since coming up with the word, so many people I know use it freely. It's all good, we are Bronxites, Bronxinian, one love! There is no right or wrong term for someone in The Bronx, unless they want to be hard headed and deem BRONXINIAN as "incorrect." They're not God and neither am I. However, I have every right to define my identity here and tell my story. It's just as valid as anyone else's.
When I heard the song Kush & Corinthians on Kendrick's Section 80, something sparked in my mind. Not only was the mixtape (or album) one of the best of my time, but it further advanced my mind. Help me continue to remove the parasite of the mind and dig deeper into who I am and what defines me. Corinthian and BRONXINIAN rhymes and I have a strong feeling I developed the word around the time I heard the song and mixtape over all. 2011 into 2012 was a great time for self discovery.
Live From Underground is a little over a year now. What were your expectations when you started it and how has it exceeded your expectations?
Live From Underground truly has exceeded both Sunny and my expectations for sure. We've been able to build a huge email list and fan base for our collective as a whole. We've curated over 25 shows since our birth and we've received nothing but love and support from the community. LFU is a family of various creators of all genres across the board who come together to support, inspire, and give a creative push to all involved. The Bronx has art outlets where people can come together and share their work, however there's many other factors which make the experience valuable other than a mic and crowd. People who come to listen and connect with the artists are an important part. As the head MC, I have always pushed since our first open mic for a silent and respectful crowd. If people are being disrespectful, they are not being present. They're disrupting the entire vibe while everyone else is there for the experience. Many open mics and events fail to truly have a commanding MC who captures the crowd and makes sure the art is being respected. LFU provides an experience, a family, a support system, a local PR firm, underground label, and - soon to come - live streaming for our resident artists.
How else do you engage your community?
People who know me know and that’s all that matters. I’m not looking for an award sticker or star for being the Bronx #1 achiever. I’m just me.
Is there anything else that we should be looking out for from you? In terms of music or programs?
This June I'll release my first single along with music video. Stay tuned! I'll also start my radio show The Morning Bloom as well as participate in other radio shows from BX Live Studios. Live from Underground has a residency every last Thursday at Port Morris Distillery. Free admission. 21+. Starting in June, we will bring back our First Friday open mics again at Andrew Freedman Home! $3 donation and all ages welcome!