October 22nd, 2007 by admin
Recently I ran an article about hip hop and the messages that are told in the music. To some, Hip hop is nothing more than foolishness and street smack. Well, I beg to differ since after listening to hip hop groups, studying lyrics and talking with artists from all over the USA, Canada and the world over, I’ve grown to respect it. It truly is a window or glimpse of what is happening with our youth today. The singers are storytellers rapping about life, what they see, and other aspects of the human experience many of us would never even know exist. It can be raw, it can be rude and it can be vulgar, at least to some. But to me, it’s a taste of reality and this article is about one such reality hip hop band called Native Beatz.
Unlike many groups I come into contact with, Native Beatz is different since they are on a mission of sorts. At first glance their music is catchy with the rhythmic beat of hip hop. But when you listen to the words they tell a compelling story. Their music is inspired by the realities of Native life. “Street” by any standard, their work focuses on social issues and conditions impacting our Native youth today. It’s not just about making music and money for them—it’s all about making a difference and empowering our Native youth in a positive way.
They are more than just a hip hop group with style and a beat. They are role models and work with youth when and where ever they can. As an example, one of the band’s members, Loren, was in foster care when he was young. He struggled with non-Native foster parents who went out of their way to separate him from his people, traditions and culture. He struggled to find sanity in his youth as he was shuffled from one foster home to the next. Racism has played a major role in his life. But he survived to make his way out of the cage mainstream society was trying to place him in. He and fellow band members remember what it was like and they can relate to the kids in ways few can—and the kids love them for hit.
The group volunteers to teach and reinforce traditional values and reconnect youth to the customs in an upbeat way. Hip hop has become the catalyst. Recently they were at the Lummi Reservation and hosted the Lummi Youth Summit. Their goal was to be a positive influence and to act as liaison between the youth and tribal elders. They played music, held talks with the kids by discussing their lives, aspirations for the future, drugs and other issue the kids wanted input in. The band spent four days on the rez spending time with the kids and showing them that people do care and that there is a future for those who pursue their dreams and goals. And they answered questions the kids needed to hear.
Native Beatz made a difference in the lives of the youth at the Lummi rez.
It was a very refreshing conversation and I enjoyed learning that there are others who truly care for our youth. Through their words and their music, they give kids hope for the future and a sense of Native Pride, Identity and Empowerment. Native Beatz is not done by any means for they want to go to other reservations as well. They truly are driven to make a positive difference in the lives of our youth and the Native world as a whole. And they asked me to make a pitch to other nations needing a liaison with their youth.
Native Beatz has become more than just a band. Every member of the dynamic group are warriors in their own right, fighting those who are ambivalent and bridging the gap with traditions and the elders of the nation they are invited to. They have become healing medicine in a time when we need these kinds of role models the most.
I have included their contact information for nations/tribes that would enjoy a summit for their youth. It’s Natives helping Natives and if we plan to survive the times ahead, we have to save our youth today or we will be erased from history forever.
After all aren’t your kids worth it?
Your Devils Advocate