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Home JackpineRadical Rooms JPR Reading Room Balam Ajpú: Mayan Hip-Hop’s Political Agenda

  • Judi Lynn (7983 posts)
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    Balam Ajpú: Mayan Hip-Hop’s Political Agenda

    March 19, 2017
    Balam Ajpú: Mayan Hip-Hop’s Political Agenda
    “When people feel our passion, they offer theirs.”
    By Jose Garcia
    The first time I saw the members of Balam Ajpú perform together was in 2012, in Guatemala City, for the ZONA M’s closing show. They put on an unforgettable show.

    Tzutu, Nativo, and MChe walked onto the stage slowly, like a gentle mist, while shaking their sonajas and blowing incense. People watched silently, as though in a daze. White fog covered the steps. When the smoke cleared, Tzutu was kneeling down, lighting a small fire while reciting Mayan poetry. Soon that spiritual opening turned into a furious hip-hop concert.

    Despite the language difference—Tzutu was rapping in Tz’utujil—his fiery, speedy rapping infected the crowd, which began dancing, bobbing their heads, and clapping along. Tzutu howled, screamed, and strained his voice. It was powerful and hypnotizing; larger than life. There were handmade shakers, empty turtle shells, wooden drums, songs in Spanish, Mayan, Tz’utujil. So unlike what we were used to at a rap concert.

    All of Balam Ajpú’s shows are that memorable. Far from a typical hip-hop recital, theirs is a ceremony, a rebellious spiritual gathering. Their lyrics are sincere tributes to the Mayan culture, Mother Nature, the forefathers and foremothers, the creators, the Earth, the stars, life. Their music: a fermented rendering of contemporary sounds. Marimbas, sonajas, turtle shells, hand-made drums, and birds chirping meet with acoustic guitars, basses, and violins to form slippery reggaes, smooth cumbias, and explosive Mayan raps.


    Balam Ajpu – Maltooj (ofrenda y agradecimiento) con Ta Pedro Cruz

    Balam Ajpu

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