PHILADELPHIA, PA 2015—What happens when Native American voices speak out—through the musical medium of rap and hip hop?
On Saturday, March 21, the Penn Museum hosts Frank Waln, Def-i, Tall Paul, and Wake Self, four nationally-known Native American rap and hip hop artists, for an afternoon of in-the-galleries spoken word, a follow up panel discussion, and an evening concert. The afternoon-into-night program, Modern Native Voices: The Medium of Hip Hop, is presented in conjunction with the Museum's five-year exhibition, Native American Voices: The People—Here and Now. The program is sponsored by Natives at Penn, Native American and Indigenous Studies, the Greenfield Intercultural Center, and Du Bois College House, CCCP, all at Penn, as well as Drexel University, Student Center for Inclusion & Culture, with support from Delaware Investments/Macquarie Group Foundation. Admission is free.
At 3:00 pm, all the artists will have an opportunity to showcase their lyrical abilities, offering up a cappella performances in the exhibition Native American Voices: The People—Here and Now. Opened in March 2014, the exhibition was developed with a central introduction and meeting area, designed for group talks and special indigenous program opportunities to connect visitors with contemporary Native American issues and perspectives.
Panel Discussion and a Q and A
At 4:00 pm, the artists regroup in the Museum's Rainey Auditorium for a panel discussion and Q and A session where they share their own personal experiences as Native Americans, and their individual paths to discovering rap and hip hop.
"Being indigenous in America today remains a topic that is rarely discussed, so this panel offers attendees an opportunity to hear directly from Native American artists sharing their perspectives on how they are incorporating their cultural perspectives into this modern art medium," explained Talon Bazille Ducheneaux, a Native American student at the University of Pennsylvania, and a hip hop artist in his own right. He is coordinator, collaborating with Native American Voices curator Dr. Lucy Fowler Williams, of the program.
"A fusion such as this is still relatively new to the mainstreams, so providing space and time for this discussion with the artists themselves is exciting and groundbreaking."
Following a break for dinner, the artists return for an 8:00 pm concert in the new Widener Hall. Guests enter via the Museum's Kamin Main Entrance garden (South Street, east of 33rd Street); handicap accessibility via east side Kress Entrance.
About the Artists
Frank Waln, Sicangu Lakota, is an award-winning artist with a BA in Audio Arts and Acoustics from Columbia College Chicago. He is from the He Dog community on the Rosebud Reservation. An outspoken artist, he uses his music and performance to address colonialism, state violence and other issues that affect Indigenous people. A Gates Millennium Alum, he has been a recipient of the 2011 Howard Yackus Memorial Scholarship Award from the National Indian and Native American Employment and Training Conference; a featured speaker at the 2011 South Dakota Indian Business Conference; and a 2012–2013/2013–2014 First Peoples Fund Artist in Business Leadership Grant Fellow. He has also been featured in many publications, most notably, Colorlines Magazine, mtvU, The Chicago Tribune, The cover of Native Peoples Magazine and Native Max Magazine, The National Journal, Native Sun News, Indian Country Today Media Network, Lakota Country Times, Powwows.com and Winds of Change Magazine. Frank currently lives in Chicago, IL where he works as the Youth Development Coordinator for the Chicago City-Wide American Indian Education Council. He is the recipient of many awards, including, in 2014, the "Native American 40 Under 40" Award given by The National Center of American Indian Enterprise; and the Mayor's Award for Civic Engagement from Columbia College Chicago as well as Indian Country Today Media Network's Best Native Music of 2013.
Def-i is an Albuquerque native, representing the Southwest's Hip Hop Scene as a member of New Mexico's Foundations of Freedom Crew since 2003. As well as being part of Skull Control Records, Chief Rockers, and Definition Rare, Def-i fell into MC'ing and beat-making while growing up in the Dine reservation as a young percussionist and poet. His style is multifaceted. His stockpile is all-inclusive: Hip Hop, Spoken Word/Acapella, Instrumental, Breakbeat, Lyrical, Beatboxing, Downtempo, Underground/Freestyle Rap, Contemporary Native-Amercian Acoustic, and everything between. Def-i has maintained a local presence as a resident host every Wednesday at 'Vinyl and Verses', NM's longest running hip-hop weekly. In a profession that is highly competitive and ever-progressive throughout our times, it is safe to say that Def-i represents living proof of hip hop flourishing over the Southwest and beyond. Awards have included: 2008 2 on 2 Vinyl and Verses MC Battle Champion 2010 Gathering of Nations Chief Rocka' Black Belt Champion 2010 Vinyl and Verses Beat Battle Champion.
Tall Paul is a Minneapolis, MN based MC currently housed under Mental Madness Wreckords. He has released six projects to date—two solo and four collaborative. Having been influenced by hip hop from all regions of the US, his style has no distinct home. "I do my best to convey myself honestly—the good, the bad and the in-between. In that way you could call me a 'No Good Good Guy'."
Andy "Wake Self" Martinez is a staple in Albuquerque's hip hop community. His hip hop band, Zoology, was named "Best Hip Hop Group" in the Albuquerque Alibi newspaper. He has a project, Definition Rare (with fellow emcee Christopher "Def-i" Bidtah), as well as solo efforts, beginning with his debut solo album in 2011, Like ClockWork. He has shared the stage with notable hip hop acts such as KRS-One, Blackalicous, Del the Funky Homosapien and Souls of Mischief.
The Penn Museum (the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology) is dedicated to the study and understanding of human history and diversity. Founded in 1887, the Museum has sent more than 300 archaeological and anthropological expeditions to all the inhabited continents of the world. With an active exhibition schedule and educational programming for children and adults, the Museum offers the public an opportunity to share in the ongoing discovery of humankind's collective heritage.
The Penn Museum is located at 3260 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (on Penn's campus, across from Franklin Field). Public transportation to the Museum is available via SEPTA's Regional Rail Line at University City Station; the Market-Frankford Subway Line at 34th Street Station; trolley routes 11, 13, 34, and 36; and bus routes 21, 30, 40, and 42. Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, and first Wednesdays of each month until 8:00 pm, with P.M. @ PENN MUSEUM evening programs offered. Closed Mondays and holidays. Admission donation is $15 for adults; $13 for senior citizens (65 and above); free for U.S. Military; $10 for children and full-time students with ID; free to Members, PennCard holders, and children 5 and younger.
Hot and cold meals and light refreshments are offered to visitors with or without Museum admission in The Pepper Mill Café; the Museum Shop and Pyramid Shop for Children offer a wide selection of gifts, books, games, clothing and jewelry. Penn Museum can be found on the web at www.penn.museum. For general information call 215.898.4000. For group tour information call 215.746.8183.
Photo caption (l-r): Native American rap and hip hop artists Def-I, Frank Waln, Wake Self, and Tall Paul perform at the Penn Museum during "Modern Native Voices," a free event on Saturday, March 21 (photos courtesy of the artists).