Enrique 29 years from Ejército de Oriente, Iztapalapa, Mexico City

I met up with Enrique a few days ago as I wanted to know more about his job.  

He is a Rapper at heart but has had to find a way of making ends meet so he jumps on public transport every day of the week to sing his songs and in this way earns money to provide for himself and his family.  

He is originally from the Morelos neighbourhood, a conflictive area of the city but no less so than Ejercito de Oriente which is a part of Iztapalapa, considered one of the most violent areas in Mexico City.  

Enrique started listening to rap music at the age of 11. He was always equally interested in action movies which portrayed violence and killings. He was particularly drawn to gang films like Blood in, Blood out and American Me, etc…  

At 13 he started to compose his first lyrics which touched on street issues and stuff like that. Enrique was all about projecting an image of strength and never allowed anyone to see him as a soft rapper.  

He reached a critical point in his life when he was sent to a young offender’s institution for attempted murder. He spent over a year there and it gave him time to write his first proper song entitled ´prisoner´.  

Once he was released he started to sing in freestyle mode but a friend of his linked him up with a well-established rapper in the city who helped him to record his first songs. 

His job as a rapper on public transport, specifically on buses has been going on for about 2 years. At first, he was pretty nervous and embarrassed about performing in front of a crowd of people who had no interest in listening to a young guy sing, - so he thought. 

His strategy has been not to rap about trivial topics, but instead focus on the everyday issues that affect normal people. Enrique tries to make people open their eyes to the problematic that encircles society in order to make everyone reflect on the reality we live. 

Similarly, he hopes to make people understand rap as a life style and eradicate its connection with delinquency and crime.  

In terms of how feasible his job is, Enrique says that the best days of the week are the weekends -that’s when people are most generous. The worst days are obviously Monday and Tuesday which is when people are not in the mood at all. He works from 8 am to 10 pm on average 7 days a week.  

Though he has previously worked at banks or security firms, he prefers this job as he is his own boss and will make the money he wants thanks to his own merits.  

Enrique explains that living in Ejercito de Oriente is tough. It’s an area with a great lack of opportunities for many and where most people live day by day. Muggings, kidnappings, and murders sadly take place all the time.  

It’s a place where residents think only for themselves. People are ignorant and lack principles. 

It’s sadly one of those places full of abandoned youth who are angry and lack respect for their families.  

Enrique recalls one very violent story –someone from his neighbourhood who was feared by many for his criminal actions was after him once . This person, who, among many other of his victims, had shot dead his daughter of 2 years old and his girlfriend was angry at the fact that Enrique had been the winner of a fight with a big bloke from the neighbourhood who was feared by many people.  

This person was angry and felt challenged since Enrique proved to be strong and fearless. In the middle of the night the guy turned up at Enrique´s home, banged the door and started to intimidate him.  

The aggressor tried to smash a gun against Enrique´s head but failed on the first occasion. At a second attempt, he caught his forehead. That infuriated Enrique to the point that they started to throw punches at each other.  

Suddenly, the aggressor pulled his gun out again and fired a bullet right at Enrique’s stomach which penetrated the middle of his stomach and exited right next to his spine.  

Enrique kneeled down holding his stomach very tightly to stop the blood from spilling out. That gave the aggressor a chance to point the revolver right at Enrique´s temple. 

That was a critical moment as Enrique knew the aggressor was cold blooded and would not hesitate to pull the trigger. Within a few seconds, he quickly threw his left hand towards the gun and bent the aggressors arm, giving him a chance to punch him in the head with his right hand until the aggressor fell to the ground.  

Once Enrique was in possession of the gun he fired it multiple times into the aggressor’s face and chest. After that he freaked out and ran as fast as he could to seek help as blood was spilling out of his nose and mouth, preventing him from breathing properly. 

On a more positive note, those terrible experiences have helped him get on in life and to understand that some of his previous actions had just dragged him into a life that would lead him either to prison or dead.  

The situation forced him to leave his home in search of a better life. He eventually found love and saw the marvellous birth of his daughter.  

Enrique now works for a decent living that helps his family get by; he is independent and enjoys a healthy and responsible existence. In conclusion, Enrique feels that he has suffered a kind of transformation that is leading him down the right path. Ultimately, a bullet did not kill him and, if anything it made him stronger…

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