To understand Carlos Mena and his music, you must understand his background. Born in Puerto Rico, raised in Brooklyn, and childhood summers in the Dominican Republic, Carlos soaked up the vast array of sounds and musical idioms —from Djing house to salsa—to help form a unique foundation for his music sensibilities that can be heard throughout his music today.
Carlo’s passion for music was only matched by his love for writing poetry. However it wasn’t until he hip-hop became a musical entity in the early eighties that he understood how much more powerful the two were together than alone. It was the blending of these two passions—hip-hop and poetry that led Carlos to create his groundbreaking CD, “Hip-Hop Mediations”.
With a move to California in 1989, Carlos joined the Hip-Hop trio 10Bass T as emcee and producer. The group beat out more than 300 other local bands for a spot on the Lollapalooza tour, and went on to open locally for the Fugees, Counting Crows, Roots, Pharaoh Sanders, Shoenen Knife and other well known bands.
Carlos has recently received an Artistic Fellowship Grant from the City of Oakland for his work on Hip-Hop Meditations. Carlos has spent much of his 2003 summer touring as the opening act for a reunited Arrested Development. Carlos is also one of the artists on the Second Annual End-Dependence Spoken Word Tour featuring the work of Mexican and Central American poets. Carlos is also the founder and president of CASAMENA, an independent production house and record label, based in Oakland, CA, that works with uncompromising artists to produce music that feeds our souls. The goal of CASAMENA is to erase boundaries that constrain contemporary Hip-Hop music and provides music to live with to the global Hip-Hop community.
Carlos has a generous and riveting stage presence and has performed in a wide range of spaces from L.A.’s House of Blues to Oakland’s Black Box to Columbia University and BB King’s in NYC to the world famous Fillmore in San Francisco. Carlos is not too shy to tell you that while he wants to make you dance, he also wants to save your soul.
"Carlos is refreshing and breaks down barriers in the art form of Hip-Hop" -- Speech, Arrested Development
"It is BEAUTIFUL. . .searching, personal, provocative. . . it's MAGNIFICENT …start to finish... the kinda shit I've been asking hip hop to feed us. . . " -- Marc Bamuthi Joseph, National Slam Champion
“Carlos Mena is one of the few people in Hip Hop who can truly be called an artist, as opposed the millions clones in the culture today.”
-- Adisa Banjoko, "The Bishop" (Vibe, Source, XXL, Rapstation.com)
"...the first thing I did was play it for my students. Young people need to hear this!" -- Aya De Leon, Touring Poet/Activist
"I found Hip-Hop Meditations to be quite impressive. The production is imaginative, the lyrics are smart and thought provoking... "
-- Bob Duskis, President, Six Degrees Records
"... It reminded me of Mystic or Blackalicious..."
-- Mosi Reeves, (Source, Vibe, XXL, URB, Village Voice)
"I love Carlos' work, the CD and the message."
-- Karen Jaime, Nuyorican Poets Cafe SlamMistress
"Carlos Mena produced one of my top three favorite hip-hop albums...and it was his poetry. Conscious doesn't begin to describe it. ...deep, yeah, and not that finger-snappin’ cliche kinda deep. Deep."
--Charles Ellik, Berkeley SlamMaster