WARNING: This video contains strong language.


Austin rapper Lench Martinez came onto our radar a little over a year ago when he succinctly nailed the anxiety about gentrification in East Austin, from the razed piñata shop to the multi-million dollar condos cropping up on every corner, with the banging single “What Happened to Austin (My Beautiful City).”

On Memorial Day he dropped a fiery follow up video, “Sleeping Giant” that takes on President Trump and the disparaging remarks he made about Mexico and Mexican people during his 2016 presidential campaign.

“You don’t gotta be violent/ but you don’t gotta be silent/ because you’re dealing with a tyrant who treats you like a migrant/ you’ve woken up a giant,” he raps in the song that was written and released last year before the election. In his mind, the “Sleeping Giant” is the Hispanic electorate in Texas, including many of his friends and family members who don’t vote. 

Martinez spends his days working as a barber at Austin’s Most Wanted Barbershop in Southeast Austin. The day after the election he says, “It was like we lost a member of our family at the barbershop.”

“In 2008 we had a black president. We thought we had embarked on a new journey. We thought we had broken racial barriers and we were so much better than we used to be. Eight years later it’s as ugly as it’s ever been. And now there’s just more cameras to prove it,” he says.

A native Austinite, Martinez is a member of the Latin American civil rights organization, LULAC. He hopes the song and video will help inspire more Latinos in Texas to become politically engaged and vote.

Lench Martinez poses next to a mural at Fiesta Gardens on Monday, March 27, 2017, an area where he grew up playing as a kid. Martinez, who’s family has been in Austin for more than eight generations, wrote a song about gentrification on the east side that gained popularity on YouTube. “My community has been torn apart by this,” he said. Kelly West/AMERICAN-STATESMAN