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."
1994 - "No More Patience" Prophets of Rage featuring Rico Pabón
1997 - "Brand New World" Prophets of Rage featuring Rico Pabón
2000 - "My Power" Prophets of Rage featuring Rico Pabón
2003 - "O-Maya" O-Maya featuring Rico Pabón (voted Best Latin Band in the Bay East Bay Express)
2006 - "Louder Than Fiction" Rico Pabón
2012 - "Todo Lo Que Soy" Rico Pabón
2017 - "And Still the Sun Rises" Rico Pabón
2001 - "Make the Most" - Independent Sounds - Amoeba Music Comp.
2001 - "Illuminate" - Shame the Devil: Truth About Prison Industrial Complex - Books Not Bars
2002 - "Machete Majita" - It's the Hour - Duece Eclipse - Oywalk Musika
2004 - "Yo Naci" - What About Us? - Hardknock Records
2004 - Slam Bush: The Official Mixtape - Hardknock Records
2005 - "Free" - Redemtion - Soul Snatcherz and Milestone Ent.
2005 - "Pequeña Amaly", "La Juventud" - John Santos and the Machete Ensemble 20th Anniversary - Machete Records
2006 - Soundtrack to the Struggle - mixtape feat. Rico Pabón - Hardknock Records
2006 - "Feel It" - Destani Wolf (produced by Rico Pabón)
2009 - "El Huracán" - Tropical Techniques - Urban Legend Music
2011 - "Freedom Time" - Linda Tillery
2014 - "Nothing But the Best" Destani Wolf (Feat. Miguel Atwood-Ferguson) - Additional production by Rico Pabón
2014 - "Uprising" Destani Wolf - Additional production by Rico Pabón
"Louder Than Fiction is conscious, politically charged hip hop, full of fire, fueled by Pabón's captivating, wide-ranging flow. Strong all around." -- Scratch Magazine
"Certified dope MC Rico Pabón mixes contemporary consciousness with vintage hip-hop production. It's a soul-drenched recipe frequently employed by stalwarts like KRS-One & Mos Def. It's clear throughout the album that he's orbiting a few universes past standard. Polished gem of an album." -- SF Guardian
"Big Pun, Q-Unique, Cuban Link, Termanology and now, more than ever, Rico Pabón. The Bay Area via the East Coast MC's game jersey should be hanging from the roof alongside those of his linguistically gifted Latin contemporaries." -- YRB Magazine
"The first single from this former front man for Prophets of Rage, "Lay 'em Down" should be booming everywhere from the Bronx to San Jose. Strong Latin melodies and tight vocals make this my summer joint of the year." -- XLR8R Magazine
"An album that will blow you away every time. A beautiful blend of socially conscious lyrics, infectious beats, and with a confident, yet not cocky, swagger, Rico Pabón has created anthems. The moment the a cappella freestyle seamlessly transitions into the beautifully salsa infused song “Lay Em Down”, you know you're not listening to your average MC, but something very special.. A story telling rhymer that excels on personal songs as well as those passionate about social change, Rico Pabón genuinely taps into the duality that exists between struggle and creative expression. Rico Pabón’s album "Louder than Fiction" is the diamond in the rough project that Hip-Hop fans have been waiting for." -- Jive Magazine rating 4.5 out of 5
"Pabon's long-awaited solo joint may be the tightest rap album by a Bay Area boriqua you've ever heard.. delivers the musical and lyrical goods, with rapid-fire flows equally adaptable to salsa, reggaeton, or hip-hop rhythms." -- Eric K. Arnold, East Bay Express