The Dago Braves -- rappers Mike "Odoe" Allen, 18, and Terrence "Poodeezy" Brown, 19 -- are cousins who live on the Sycuan reservation near Alpine.
"We are both three-quarters black and a quarter Native American," says Poodeezy. "Our grandma is full-blooded [Native American]."
The duo's Sycuan ancestry helped Allen and Brown get casino backing so they could record their first CD, Native American Hustle. Poodeezy says they recorded the disc at a reservation studio.
"Our hustle is the casino," says Poodeezy. "That's how we eat and put our kids in college."
Dan Phippen, the music department administrator for Sycuan, says his boss, "Uncle Shu," "...is a major member of the Sycuan tribal nation. He is the director of the music department" and made arrangements for the teen rappers to record.
"This studio is not open to the public," continues Phippen. "If we choose to work with somebody, they are either native, from another tribe, and/or someone else from San Diego who has been rapping and is known to us." Phippen says three or four other artists have recorded at the Sycuan facilities.
Poodeezy says they were able to hire four different local hip-hop producers, including Batkave and Music Money Entertainment. He says their lyrics are positive, not "gangster."
"Our lyrics come from our firsthand experiences; we try and keep it real. If we say we're driving in a Benz, we're really driving in a Benz. There's no lyin'."
Dago Braves appear December 29 at the House of Blues.