12 Tracks of Native Hip Hop That Crush Emerson Windy's 'Peace Pipe'
Emerson Windy's video for "Peace Pipe" surpassed 11 million views on WorldStar Hip Hop today, three days after it was posted to the site, and that's depressing.
It's depressing because the lyrics and video are an insult to the culture many of Turte Island's original people hold dear. Windy puts on a feather headdress (a sacred item to a number of Tribes and Nations) and intercuts scenes of powwow dancers with shots of himself enjoying his "peace pipe" -- a vape pen. Maybe he's comparing Native spirituality to being stoned, maybe he just thinks "doing the Indian thing" is a good gimmick to sell "Mr. Good Vape" flavorings -- any way you slice it, the video and Windy's appropriation of Native culture is, to put it mildly, in bad taste.
It's also depressing because -- come on, it's just not a good song. Emerson Windy is not a nimble rapper, struggling to keep his lyrics timed to beats that move at a snail's pace. His rhymes are weak -- like "people" with "weed smoke" -- and he sometimes can't be bothered to rhyme at all. He delivers insight like "I think I should run for President / I'd let the people smoke their weed bro" and says weed is "bringing folks together just like them high school dances." And the chorus -- oh dear, that chorus. This track might sound great, and funny, if you're stoned off your face at 2 am, but in the sober light of day it's just not skillful or catchy. Even for stoner music, the whole thing just seems a little, well, half-baked. Or over-baked.
The irony is that a lot of Natives love hip hop, and a lot of them are making very good -- well-executed, interesting, intelligent, and yes, catchy -- hip hop themselves. They're sure making better music than "Peace Pipe," and as a bonus they're not (usually) trivializing Native culture in the process. Here are 12 of our favorite hip hop jams by American Indian and First Nations artists. It's a shame you won't find them on the home page of World Star Hip Hop, racking up 11 million views like Emerson Windy -- because they sure deserve to.
Supaman, "Too Far" feat. Emcee One aka Marcus Anthony Guinn
Supaman recently created a viral sensation when a video of his unique hip-hop/fancy-dance mashup stylings hit YouTube -- this one is more of a straight-up hip hop tune. But there's a twist of satire in the lyrics, evident from the opening request to "Yo, pass me some of that ceremonial dietary frybread..." Supaman (Christian Parrish) is Crow, and his accomplice here Emcee One (Marcus Anthony Guinn) is Osage/Potawatomi/Delaware and Puerto Rican.
Quese IMC & Cempoalli 20, "The Raven"
Quese IMC, Pawnee/Seminole, is a multifaceted artist, as well as an activist and educator originally from Oklahoma; here he's teamed up with Cempoalli 20, a soul and reggae singer who describes his heritage as "born on Turtle Island, indigenous child of earth, with origins in Mexico." This video was posted to YouTube in March with the comment "Protect the Everglades. Indigenous hiphop and Turtle Island reggae. Filmed in the sacred Florida Everglades."
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