Chicano rapper and producer Mr. Criminal takes his name seriously.
His tough narratives, told in a lightly gruff deadpan that occasionally breaks into a reflective lilt conveying both languorous ease and gangster fierceness, focus on his coming of age in the Silver Lake section of Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the MC has been in and out of trouble with the law, most notably a drug-and-weapons charge in Arizona. Born Robert Garcia in 1982, Mr. Criminal earned his first break when, shortly out of juvenile detention, he met rapper Mr. Capone-E, who paved the way for the former's 2001 debut, Criminal Mentality, released on Capone-E's Thump Records. Around that time, he also began to impress as a diversely talented producer manning the boards for rappers spanning a wide swath of the hip-hop spectrum: from Lil' Flip to Bizzy Bone to MC Eiht. Mr. Criminal was prolific throughout the 2000s, but was sidetracked somewhat in 2008 when state troopers found illegal firearms and marijuana in a car Garcia was driving through Arizona, a state known for its strict penalties for such crimes. Despite the legal troubles, Garcia continued recording, most notably 2008's Rise 2 Power, 2010's Death Before Dishonor, and the sequel to his debut, Criminal Mentality, Vol. 2. Along with Mr. Capone-E, the prolific rapper issued a combination of mixtapes and full-lengths for Hi-Power Entertainment. In 2015, Evolution of a G arrived, featuring guests like Brotha Lynch Hung and Xzibit. A year later, he unveiled L.W.A. ("Latin With Attitude"), which included a fitting nod to its namesake by featuring late N.W.A founder Eazy-E's son, Lil Eazy-E. ~ Jason Thurston