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Pepe Aguilar

Immigrant Archive Project
Pepe Aguilar, one of the most influential Mexican-American artists of his generation, discusses his unique upbringing, his optimistic outlook, and his desire to stay true to himself.
Show transcript
00:00
I was born on a tour.
00:02
I went to school on the road.
00:04
I started working when I was three.
00:06
I'm not bragging about it.
00:08
I'm not crying about it.
00:10
It is what it is.
00:18
What would you say?
00:18
You're the proudest of?
00:21
Oh II, I gotta say, definitely.
00:24
Um I'm proud of my family.
00:27
I'm proud of my family.
00:28
I know it sounds like a cliche, but I swear to you, it's truth
00:34
is the truth, you know, definitely.
00:37
Uh my family makes me uh get up in the mornings and, and, and
00:43
do things, you know, I'm, I'm proud of many other things.
00:48
Of course, I'm proud of, of uh my country, my country, man,
00:55
my history, my traditions, uh my country is the world by the
01:00
way, you know, I, I'm, I'm, I'm proud of many things.
01:04
I'm proud of my work, of course, you know, but that, that wouldn't
01:08
be number one of what I'm proud of.
01:10
I'm, I'm most proud of what I've done with my family.
01:15
You grew up in a musical family, you stepped on stage for the
01:21
very first time, I would imagine at a very, very young age,
01:25
how would you say your life has been different rather than
01:31
the same as what you imagined as a child.
01:35
Actually.
01:38
Um, I don't have nothing ordinary.
01:42
I was born on a tour.
01:43
I went to school on the road.
01:46
Um, I started working when I was three.
01:53
Um, I didn't have a childhood.
01:56
Um, you know, it's, it's, it's, it's a pretty peculiar life
02:01
Uh, I'm not bragging about it.
02:04
I'm not crying about it.
02:06
It is what it is.
02:07
And normally there is not a lot of stuff that people can relate
02:12
with my life.
02:13
So, so, and, and, and curious, very curiously, there's a lot
02:19
of things that I can relate with everybody else.
02:21
You know, everything is the same.
02:24
We all have different ways of saying and wanting the same thing
02:28
So, and besides, I, I've always been uh a status quo killer
02:35
I don't like the status quo doesn't appeal to you, but he said
02:39
no, no, no, no, no, no.
02:41
II I think life's too short, man.
02:44
You know, you gotta do what you wanna do.
02:46
Of course, as long as you don't hurt anybody else or yourself
02:49
starting with yourself, you gotta do what you wanna do what
02:53
you can do.
02:55
You know, you look around today and you see that the Hispanic
02:57
market is this, you know, just this monster of a market over
03:01
50 million people.
03:03
You see how we're affecting everything from, you know, supermarket
03:06
sales to the way companies advertise, not just to us, but to
03:10
mainstream America, the way we affect films, you know, it's
03:13
it's, it's, it's a quantum leap from the market that was here
03:18
during your dad's era.
03:20
You know, do you think you would have ever imagined that?
03:25
I don't think nobody, nobody did.
03:28
Not even the Hispanics themselves.
03:31
You know, the whole population, nobody, nobody ever in their
03:36
wildest dreams would have thought that we had, we have had
03:39
this real, we have this reality right now that we would some
03:42
someday we will come to be where we are right now.
03:45
And you know, what's, what's the, the, the, the most exciting
03:49
part of it?
03:51
It's just starting, it's just starting.
03:55
Um There's no way back, you know, our culture is way too strong
04:03
and this country is full of opportunities and it's not gonna
04:06
stop being a country full of opportunities.
04:10
So we are a very hardworking people, you know, that's, that's
04:15
that's in our culture.
04:17
So I think this is only the beginning.
04:20
We just, you know, if you see the numbers, this is just getting
04:24
started, you know, every time, more and more people get to
04:29
high levels of efficiency in the Hispanic community, you
04:33
know, more and more people uh uh get prepared for this kind
04:38
of reality.
04:40
Um So it's fun to be alive right now and being Hispanic in the
04:46
United States, you know, I'm, I'm, I'm full of dreams and I'm
04:49
an old artist.
04:50
I've been in this for 30 some years.
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I'm 42.
04:54
I've been in the business for 39 years and I believe the best
04:59
is yet to come.
05:00
You know, it's amazing.
05:02
So it doesn't matter if you're an artist, a taxi driver, um
05:07
a restaurant employee, um, or you, if you're in top of your
05:13
class and just come out of Harvard or Yale, you know, we all
05:18
have to do our part.
05:20
We all have to do our part.
05:22
And one thing that is very important, this country is amazing
05:25
This country is beautiful.
05:27
We have to um deserve the opportunity and deserve all this
05:35
greatness.
05:36
How adapting working, being honest, doing what you have to
05:42
do no matter where you are.
05:45
And you sound just like my father just in much better, English
05:48
much, much better.
05:54
OK, I gotta, I gotta ask you one last thing and then, and then
05:56
I'll let you go and I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed this
05:58
so far.
05:59
You know, you said you, you, you said it's fun.
06:01
I agree with everything you've said.
06:03
You said it's fun.
06:03
It's a great time to be who we are.
06:06
Uh But I can't stop but think that, you know, we have certain
06:11
iconic personalities in the industry that you know, they
06:14
have a certain responsibility because of who they are.
06:17
You're beyond an iconic personality in the industry, your
06:20
royalty in this market.
06:22
You really are, you really are, you really are, do you sense
06:26
that responsibility.
06:28
Yes or no.
06:28
And, and, and, and, and how does it, or doesn't it affect you
06:32
I do not sense that responsibility at all.
06:36
I'm just the guy that worries to do things.
06:39
Right.
06:41
I think I should think about that responsibility a little
06:44
more because even if I don't see myself as that, there's a lot
06:47
of people that do.
06:49
So.
06:49
Yeah, I gotta concentrate a little more on that.
06:51
But you know what this is about having fun, man.
06:56
This is not about titles or who's best than the other one.
07:01
And uh for me, it's just remain who I am.
07:08
That's the challenge.
07:09
And I'm a guy that loves what it, what it does.
07:12
You know, I'm a guy that enjoys truthfully to come out and be
07:20
happy after the show and be proud of what I did or, or speaking
07:25
mic hard out.
07:29
That's more important for me than titles and awards.
07:32
That's more important for me than having a lot of money, you
07:38
know.
07:38
So, yeah, iii I know that I'm an inspiration to a lot of Hispanics
07:46
but uh I prepare, I, I'm, I'm sorry, I, I prefer to keep myself
07:53
real and to always uh to always keep myself centered in what
08:02
I am and what I like and what my family and people I love uh need
08:10
and if I can do something to make them happier, that's the important
08:15
thing, you know, that's the important thing in life.
08:18
Too, to be happy, to be free, not to have a title, to be free.
08:23
Freedom is the ultimate, um, blessing every human being has
08:31
to be free no matter where, no matter how, you know.
08:36
So that's my, that's my main goal and it has been all, all the
08:41
time and, uh, that's my main responsibility.