Category Archives: Voices of the Voiceless

Voices of the Voiceless: Rebel Diaz

Rebel Diaz is a political hip hop trio out of the Bronx and Chicago. It consists of Teresita Ayala (Lah Tere) and brothers Rodrigo Venegas (RodStarz) and Gonzalo Venegas (G1).

The children of Chilean activists, RodStarz and G1 grew up in Chicago’s North Side, and Lah Tere was raised in Humboldt Park, Chicago. Rebel Diaz identify with and position themselves within a history of political resistance through music, specifically citing the Nueva canción movement.

Although Rebel Diaz met in Chicago, Illinois, Rebel Diaz was not born until the three moved to the Bronx – the birthplace of hip hop – to continue their political activism through hip hop. Rebel Diaz see themselves as reclaiming hip hop as a tool in the larger struggle against oppression. RodStarz and G1 work with youth in the South Bronx, teaching them to use music to express themselves. In March 2009, Rebel Diaz opened the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective, a community arts center that includes a performance space, a multimedia studio, a computer lab, and an art gallery located in an abandoned warehouse in the South Bronx.

On January 19, next year, The Red Path Society in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, of which I am currently the president, will be working with BASICS Community News Service and Barrio Nuevo to bring Rebel Diaz to the Tri-City area for a one night show. The show will also feature performances by local radical spoken word artists and rock musicians. It will, barring any major complications, be held at Federation Hall on the University of Waterloo campus. Tickets are likely to be around 10$. I will post more details about the concert when they are available.

For now, sit back and enjoy the music. Read the rest of this entry

Voices of the Voiceless: Immortal Technique

Immortal Technique is rapper who needs to little introduction to those familiar with underground or political hip-hop. Born in Lima, Peru and raised in Harlem, most of his lyrics focus on issues in global politics, based largely in a mixture of revolutionary socialist commentary on issues such as class hierarchy, poverty, religion, government and institutional racism. Without any major label support he has been able to build a large following and has released three albums – Revolutionary Vol. 1, Revolutionary Vol. 2, and The 3rd World - as well as numerous mixtapes.

While much of his lyrics are problematic – containing heavy doses of conspiracy theoryism and decidedly less than radical treatments of women and queers – his commitment to anti-imperialism and economic democracy make his a voice that is at least a cursory listen. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the sounds,

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Voices of the Voiceless: Aztlan Underground

New ground was broken at this year 12th annual Native American Music Awards (Nammys). Los Angeles band Aztlan Underground was nominated for four awards: group of the year, best rock recording, best spoken word recording, and best world music recording. While they did not win any (a travesty if you ask me), their being nominated is a sign of the growing consciousness within many Indians and Mexicans of what they truly are, brothers and sisters, with a shared history, culture, languages (before colonization), traditions etc. This process is not new, with cooperation in the past between organizations like MEChA and AIM being based on this recognition, but this marks the continued growth of this, including its penetration into the popular thought of our common peoples.

As artists AU brings together diverse influences, including rap, spoken word, hardcore punk, prog rock, death metal, the sounds of traditional indigenous drumming, rattles, chants and flutes with politicly consciousness lyrics. Over their 20 years in music they have put out three incredible albums, 1995’s Decolonize, 2001’s Sub-Verses and 2009’s Aztlan Underground. With the release of their latest album has, shifting away from their originally more rap situated sound to one that includes 10 minute long progressive pieces. It also includes a first for the band, their first song, Moztliitta, recorded in Nahuatl, the language of the Mexica people.

What I present below is only sampling from their three albums. I would highly suggest you check them out.

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