Rappers Breathing Life: Guatemalan rappers promote Mayan language, stories to youth [READ]

In a country plagued by gang activity and high homicide rates, Balam Ajpu sees its music as an instrument to teach young people to live in harmony with others and nature by returning to the principles of the Mayan calendar.”

The voices from those least heard are the ones worth hearing the most. Reading about these Guatemalan artists using hip-hop as an amplifier for indigenous voices reminded me of Kunarevolution rapping about environmental issues in Panama. Or young Natives in America doing what feels natural to them and speaking life to what they’re facing.

This energy of expression is not new of course, but the context that we’re seeing now through the lens of contemporary hip-hop is something that ought to be reclaimed, expressed and propelled to be kept alive; hip-hop is literally breathing new life. As a genre, it is 40 years ago yes, but the tradition it is based on – storytelling – has always been around. So we should not be surprised these circles come back around to find each other.

Imagine we take responsibility in the digital generation to use these platforms in linking movements and traditions clinging to survive or be remembered? The turn up is actually possible.

Since the time of the (Spanish) invasion, the (Mayan) worldview was persecuted, even almost snuffed out, but now it’s returning to life, relying on music and sustaining itself in art…

Circles, cycles…will continue. Like they say in this Rebel Music series on indigenous hip-hop: “If we fail, the whole world fails.