Rap music and hip-hop have often been mediums of self-expression through which the oppressed and marginalized have voiced their concerns, angsts, laments and frustrations to a largely calloused majority. Through their trenchant and provocative lyrics, rappers often decry problems of poverty, racism and violence, and rebel against the tyranny of the corrupt system in which their communities live. Likewise, the taco truck Dos Amigos channels this spirit of rebellion with their eclectic menu and savory cuisine. In the middle of a town inundated and surrounded by mediocre Mexican food, the teal truck of Dos Amigos is a tasteful insurgent, bringing authentic and flavorful Cali-Mex style tacos and quesadillas to the Ithaca community. On dark Collegetown nights, when Louie’s and CTB just don’t seem appetizing, what’s better than pork and chicken tacos wrapped in a steaming flour tortilla (served with guacamole of course) or a fire-grilled steak quesadilla with gooey cheese and a side of spicy tomatillo salsa?
However, Dos Amigos does not simply share similarities with rap and hip-hop through spirit and philosophy alone. Their menu has a creative twist: every item is named after a famous rapper, album or pop artist. Food and hip-hop certainly are not strangers to each other. There have been plenty of food-themed rap tracks, from Nas’ “Fried Chicken,” to Schoolboy Q’s “Collard Greens,” to Kendrick Lamar’s cult classic “Cartoons and Cereal” and even Lil Yachty’s brief bars in a 2016 Sprite commercial. Dos Amigos expertly plays into the intersectionality of these two areas. Iconic names such as The Notorious B.I.G., Chief Keef, Schoolboy Q, and Busta Rhymes receive culinary makeovers into The Notorious P.I.G., Chief Beef, Schoolboy Shroom, and Busta Limes.
If you were to ask the hungry customers who patiently wait in line by the truck, any one of them can testify that the amount of creativity that goes into the names of the food is equally met by the amount of care and flavor of the food itself. And while all the items on the Dos Amigos menu are spectacular, a bevy of new artists have risen to newfound stardom, and multiple albums have been released since 2015, when the truck first hit Ithaca’s roads and found its permanent resting place in front of Cascadilla. Let’s look at some of the potential new items that Dos Amigos could add to their already stellar menu, while continuing the hip-hop/rap theme:
Artist named after: Lupe Fiasco
Ingredients: Grilled shrimp with avocado and cilantro
Why?: The Chicago rapper has always had an erratic personality and a colorful music palette; from radio friendly pop tracks (any song from Lazers) to the bass-heavy “Jump” off of his latest project Drogas LIGHT, Lupe is a rapper that seeks to defy categorization. Though his tracks are deep, he nonetheless incorporates energy and vibrancy (hence the avocado and cilantro) in his songs.
Artist named after: Kendrick Lamar
Ingredients: Wine-braised lamb marinated with oregano, rosemary and mint
Why?: Rarely on the first listen can anyone truly comprehend the meaning behind a Kendrick Lamar tune. With each track, the Compton rapper demonstrates his genius and acumen, and his zingers and carefully crafted rhymes require time to permeate and sink in. Likewise, any taco named after him should require the same amount of meticulous care and marination. You may have to wait a while to get this one, but you know you’ll be in for a treat.
Watch the Bone
Artists named after: Jay-Z and Kanye West
Ingredients: Thick-cut T-bone steak with chunks of lobster meat, sprinkled with goat cheese
Why?: It’s only right that any food item named after these lyrical juggernauts is nothing short of gaudy, expensive and abrasive. Like the two emcees, steak and lobster is a classic pairing, ensuring a palatable and delectable dining experience, but it will leave your wallet hurting.
Artist named after: Migos
Ingredients: breaded fried chicken with a “dab of ranch”
Why?: Childish Gambino’s shout-out that the “Migos are the Beatles of this generation” helped skyrocket the Atlanta trio’s hard-hitting trap beats, comical ad-libs and frenetic exuberance to mainstream stardom. Though Quavo, Takeoff and Off-set have been making music since 2011, only now in 2017 can the Atlanta triumvirate can take a deep breath and celebrate their newfound fame and success. In his song “Monster,” Meek Mill rapped, “The money turned my noodles into pasta / The money turned my tuna into lobster,” yet despite their newfound fame, the trio remains loyal and faithful to Atlanta rather than setting their sights on better places. That being said, what better way to channel the Migos’ spirit than through a classic Atlanta staple?
Artist named after: Ab-Sol
Ingredients: Kimchi with sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack
Why?: Top Dawg Entertainment arguably has the best current artist roster (recently signing SiR and Lance Skiiwalker this past year) but in comparison to the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q, Black Hippy member Ab-Sol is often overlooked. Yet the Cali artist made waves with his fourth LP Do What Thou Wilt, and each track oozed with introspection and tenacity. Sol often spices up his songs with poetic wordplay (“You sing hymns in church, I’m looking for the hers”) and dexterous flow; the piquant fermentation of kimchi mingled with gooey cheddar and Monterey jack perfectly displays his versatility and zest.
Artist named after: Childish Gambino
Ingredients Black and refried beans with Chihuahua cheese
Why?: Donald Glover has always occupied an interesting niche in hip-hop/rap. His lines are facetious, slathered with pop-culture references and infused with his eccentric humor. Naturally you would think that a quesadilla should capture the range of his eclectic skillset (not to mention his stellar acting resume), but his latest studio release Awaken, My Love was a complete 180 degree turn from the sound that defined his past studio albums Camp and Because the Internet. His quesadilla should be no different.
Artist named after: Big Sean
Ingredients The traditional ingredients that usually go into making flan: sugar, eggs, condensed milk and vanilla extract
Why?: You can safely assume that on any Big Sean song, the Detroit rapper will make a bold declaration about how he is the best in the game. Yet despite the braggadocios flair he often gives to his tunes, he also has a soft and sweet heart, with tracks like “Sunday Morning Jetpack” and “Blessings” serving as touching odes to his grandmother and mother.
J. Cole Slaw
Artist named after: J. Cole
Ingredients: This slaw is made specifically to match the other tacos and quesadillas so it deviates from traditional recipes: It consists of cabbage, jalepeño, carrot, cilantro and lime juice
Why?: J. Cole is not beneath providing blistering guest verses on rapper’s songs (see Jay-Z’s “A Star is Born” and Kanye West’s “Looking for Trouble”), but as his past albums 2014 Forest Hills Drive and 4 Your Eyez Only have proven, he’s more than able to hold his own without the need of additional features. The same goes with this cole slaw.
Chance the Wrap
Artist named after: Chance the Rapper
Ingredients: Just a corn tortilla
Why?: As of right now, Dos Amigos serves all of their items with flour tortillas; with this item, diners in search of a corn substitute should have No Problem.
Artist named after: Eminem
Ingredients: Empanada filled with beef, Oaxaca cheese and a macadamia nut garnish, served with a side of M&Ms
Why?: Slim Shady himself stated that his next studio album could possibly (and humorously) be called empanada, and with his iconic line on the posse cut “Forever,” he’s given all the ingredients needed to craft a food item worthy of his iconic name.
Regardless of whether Dos Amigos expands their menu (with or without these suggestions), they will continue to make culinary symphonies of their own. Their current crop of offerings is tasty, mouthwatering and heavenly, and they will, without a doubt, faithfully serve authentic Mexican food to many Cornell students for years to come.