April 29, 2013
RescuePoetix (98 articles)


Born in Puerto Rico, raised in Brooklyn NY, spending summers in the Dominican Republic as a child, Carlos Mena’s life could have taken a different path. Surrounded by the trappings of making easy money, a career in drug dealing was one of those roads. Steeped into a richly diversified city and culture where music was everywhere, and still is, that is the road Carlos Mena is on.

Carlos Mena is a multidimensional artist who’s roots are in poetry, rapping, b-boying, and DJing. He has over 25 years experience in music and deeply spiritual rhythms. He is the founder of his own production House (Casamena), record label owner on two continents Ocha Records and Ocha Mzansi an internationally known persona, poet, Hip Hop artist, Producer, and DJ.

By the time Mena had graduated from Bushwick High, he was spinning at an illegal after-hours club. In his hour-and-a-half set he would play a variety of sounds such as Salsa, Merengue, Shannon’s ‘Let the Music Play,’ ‘These Are the Breaks,’ ‘Set It Off,’ Prince’s ‘When Doves Cry,’ and then go back into some merengue. In 1989, wanting to break away from the easy money seduction of drug dealing he moved to Silicon Valley, California where he landed a job in the technology field and pursued his path as an artist. Within a year, he and Matt Brown formed a Hip Hop management company, signing Peanut Butter Wolf and Charizma. Carlos’ own group 10 Bass T, was the second act to be signed. The group, 10 Bass T, included pioneering Filipino rapper Slim Daddy Milo and Chicano DJ Selector G. 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. By 1995, 10 Bass T released ‘Do You Know the Way’. 10 Bass T broke up soon after.

Mena took up the study of drumming as a means to find the roots for the rhythms he loved. “If you study music,” he says, “it’s going to take you to Africa at some point, and so I started looking at African rhythms, and that opened the door to the music of West African religious traditions.” This proved to be life changing for him. In his pursuit of knowledge, he discovered something else: “It started awakening a lot of feelings and memories of things I was associated with as a kid.”

In 2003, Carlos spent most of the summer touring with Arrested Development, an American alternative Hip Hop group, founded by Speech and Headliner (DJ) as a positive, Afrocentric alternative to the gangsta rap popular in the early 1990s. After he stopped touring, Mena turned his attention to combining his two loves, poetry and Hip Hop, birthing his groundbreaking “Hip Hop Meditations”, steeped in sacred rhythms and poetic verse of self-improvement and an inward sense of discovery.

Carlos Mena (Casamena) founded his record label, Ocha Records (Ocha, short for Orisha, meaning spirit or deity in the Yoruba religion of Ifa) after a 2005 meeting with Osunlade at Winter Music Conference. Carlos felt a need to release music across many genres including House, but also Hip Hop, Soul, Jazz & Funk and help give those artists the exposure they deserve. 2012 saw Ocha Records branching into South Africa. Ocha Mzansi is “focused on shining light on the house music of South Africa and sharing it with the Universe”.

To say that his discography is impressive would be the understatement of the year. Spanning from 1994 to today, and growing, Mena has worked with such artists as Osunlade, Ezel, Boddhi Satva, Abicah Soul Project, Charles Spencer, Atjazz, Nomumbah, Manoo, Bah Samba and Paso Doble just to name a few.

Through the many years of evolution and growth, Carlos remains approachable. He puts no airs as to who he is or what he has accomplished. For him, it’s about the dancer. He feeds the soul of the dancer from a vast table designed to satisfy all of the senses.

Watch for the upcoming interview with Carlos Mena, here on In the meantime, check out: