Why Indigenous Artists Are Using Hip-Hop to Reclaim Their Heritage

The links between hip-hop and indigenous people aren’t apparent initially. Exactly what could pop-locking, graffiti-tagging sneaker heads potentially share with peoples whose cultures go back centuries in the Western hemisphere?

However as a few of the artists performing at the Hip-Hop: First Peoples, New Voices event at Grand Performances explain it, the links and parallels are plentiful in the music, the art, the narratives and the dances. Most important, hip-hop is a channel for these artists to reclaim their individuals’s culture and heritage by developing their communities with their own voices.

The Saturday, July 1, event will feature performances by Jessa Calderon (Tongva/Chumash/Mexica), Frank Waln (Sicangu Lakota), The Sampson Brothers (Mvskoke Creek/Seneca), Tanaya Winder (Southern Ute/Duckwater Shoshone/Pyramid Lake Paiute), MC RedCloud (Huichol) and Mare Advertencia Lirika (Zapoteca).

Hip-Hop: First Peoples, New Voices belongs to the Grand Performance’s two-year initiative of Native American shows moneyed by the National Endowment for the Arts. The effort will feature other shows along with live theater and other events that tell the story of native peoples both locally and abroad.

” The city, native neighborhood is nearly a quiet, unidentified neighborhood unless you are clearly aware,” explains Leigh Ann Hahn, programming director at Grand Performances. “I believe a great deal of the neighborhood is overlooked or melded into exactly what a lot of individuals think of as the monolithic Latino community. It’s a crucial voice that Grand Performances has actually not taken a look at [before] in any depth.”

Saturday’s event will be the very first of many to display a few of those voices that have actually used the arts to recover their heritage and culture, consisting of by means of hip-hop. A growing number of indigenous artists have actually utilized hip-hop in the last few years to share stories and customs that were reduced by the U.S. government for centuries, till simply a few decades ago.

” Hip-hop is something that was derived from oppression,” discusses Lumhe Micco Sampson, one half of The Sampson Brothers. He and his sibling Samsoche are dancers who perform during rapper-producer Waln’s sets. Their best-known dance is the hoop dance, where they link large hoops in elaborate ways that likewise narrate.

” There’s various dance types that can be put into hip-hop, so it’s not a far-fetched idea for a Native American to include exactly what he understands into something that is modern,” states Lumhe Micco. “For us, it’s simply a matter of getting that exposure and producing a story in that context rather than somebody else informing our story for us. You actually see us up there telling those stories. Actually up till the 1930s, Native Americans were prohibited by law, even prosecuted, for dancing, singing, any of those types of things that have to do with our events. For me, this is an ultimate act of rebellion, a statement of my culture and my humankind.”

The storytelling aspect of hip-hop is exactly what drew Waln to the music. He saw his own battles as a poor kid on a Lakota appointment reflected in the struggles of rap artists rhyming about their lives in ghettoes. He taught himself how to play the piano at age 7, was active in music programs in school and wrote poetry too. The turning point in his life came when he first heard Nas’ “One Mic.” It was that song that convinced him to become a hip-hop artist to express exactly what his generation of Lakota were enduring.

” For me, it’s not an understatement to say that hip-hop changed and conserved my life,” he describes. “I speak for myself and a lot of individuals in the appointment where I’m from [when I say that] we grew up detached from our culture … since it was prohibited and it had to go underground and we were denied of that. For me, hip-hop offered me a place to recover my indigeneity and to re-examine it and learn it and perform through art exactly what it indicates to be indigenous. Due to the fact that at its core, at its root, hip-hop is drawing from native African roots.”

Post Author: Hillary