Meet Balam Ajpu, a Mayan Hiphop Trio that Proves Indigenous Art Transcends Folklore

Read my first piece on Remezcla, profiling the Mayan hiphop group Balam Ajpu.

‘Talking with members of Guatemalan hip-hop group Balam Ajpu is a rapid-fire lesson in Mayan linguistics and culture. I recently sat down with members Tzutu Baktun Kan and M.C.H.E. in Mexico City; they were unwinding at a friend’s apartment after playing a handful of shows in and around the capital. Comprised of Rene Dionisio (Tzutu), Yefry Pacheco (M.C.H.E.), reggae and hip-hop artist Juan Martínez (Dr. Nativo), and producer Danilo Rodríguez, these musicians truly embody the namesake of their group: Jaguar Warriors.

“Do you know your Nawal?” Che asks me when I arrive. There are 20 Nawals, one to represent the spirit of each day in the Mayan calendar. Ajpu’s first album, which came out in March, has 20 songs to match each of the Nawals. Che pulls out his cell phone, and puts on “Tijax” (or obsidian blade), the track for the Nawal of my birth date. It features Guatemalan rapper Rebeca Lane, a feminist MC who Remezcla profiled earlier this year.’

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Read the full interview here.

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