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Andre Ethier, All-Star, Latin rap aficionado, swings to Delinquent Habits

Ethier

The attendance statistics read 35,249, but Sunday's crowd at Dodger Stadium felt even smaller. It's been that sort of year for the congregation at Chavez Ravine, part of the flop that's occured since their owner decided to turn the team into an ATM and Manny Ramirez admitted to a long-term affinity for estrogen.

But in spite of the Dodgers' slow demise, they slid into the All-Star break on a positive note: a sweep of the Padres and two home runs by All-Star Andre Ethier, their sweet-swinging, yoga-stretching, gourmand of a right fielder. Matt Kemp may garner the headlines for his flashy play and his flashier ex-girlfriend, but Ethier's been equally impressive since the Dodgers stole him several years ago in the Milton Bradley trade.

For a music enthusiast, perhaps the most admirable thing about Ethier has been his at-bat music: Delinquent Habits' oft-forgotten 1996 hit, "Tres Delinquentes." Most big league baseball players gravitate toward jock jams, Top 40 hits du jour and, in the case of Carlos Perez, proof positive of everything Dave Chappelle ever suspected.

But in an unusually subtle way, the half-Mexican Ethier, who drove in a run on his only at-bat in Tuesday's All-Star game, acknowledges both his own and the city's Latin makeup -- while big-upping one of the most unsung local rap groups from the early '90s. While Cypress Hill usually elicits the lion's share of love, Los Angeles experienced an explosion of Latin rappers during the '90s: Kid Frost, Lighter Shade of Brown, Funkdoobiest, Johnny J, Mellow Man Ace. Indeed, the playlists of 92.3 FM (The Beat) and Power 106 swarmed with Spanish-speaking rappers.

In fact, it was Cypress Hill member Sen Dog who first pushed East L.A.'s Delinquent Habits, executive producing their self-titled debut LP -- the record that produced the regional single that Ethier still plays before most home plate appearances. Riding funky drums and a rollicking Herb Alpert mariachi horn sample, the bilingual Delinquent Habits riff on the differences between local Chicano culture and traditional Mexican culture. The video features everything from skateboarding midgets to bullfighting to an homage to the Robert Rodriguez film "El Mariachi."

Ethier likely heard it growing up in Arizona. After all, the song owned large swaths of the Southwest throughout 1996. A decade and half later, he's proven himself a person of impeccable taste and sharp memory. While Delinquent Habits never again managed a hit as ubiquitous as "Tres Delinquentes," they later collaborated with Big Pun and Juju of the Beatnuts for "Western Ways 2," which remains as replayable today as it was in 1998. They're remembered every time No. 16 comes to the plate, and they still have more boom-boom than Charo.

ALSO:

Homies are where his art is

Ceci Bastida finally says yes to a solo career

Obiturary: Gil Scott Heron set the template for rap music

-- Jeff Weiss

Photo: The Dodgers' Andre Ethier drives in a run for the National League in the All-Star Game in Phoenix on Tuesday night. Credit: Jim Young / Reuters

 
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