In Yucatán, new voices are heard to the rhythm of rap and hip hop … in Maya. Young people, proud of their roots, sing with a powerful message: the Maya language is versatile and is part of the current music scene. Just follow some videos of Maya rappers on social networks to see their popularity and impact.
Rap in Maya is a movement that has been practiced for several years in the Yucatán Peninsula. It merges the best of the hip hop and rap genres – such as improvisation and rhythm – with the strength and clarity of the lyrics that express the concerns of its authors, in both Maya and Spanish.
It’s a great way to preserve and to bring the rejuvenated Maya language to new sectors, mainly by becoming known through musical concerts or festivals in different parts of the region. The interpreters, following the codes of these genres, use artistic names, combining their Maya surnames with assorted nicknames, keeping their roots alive.
To transmit messages of pride and identity, to value culture and traditions, as well as to address social problems and migration, are some of the themes of the original songs that are rapped and sung by more and more young artists. Many share their taste and musical interest in these genres that allow them to express themselves freely; they are also united by the commitment to maintain the Maya language of Yucatán, as well as to be able to transmit these musical and expressive abilities to new generations. There is no doubt about the transformative power of music.
Within this movement, several promoters and performers stand out, including Maya DNA, a production house founded by rapper Pat Boy, who has been promoting artists from Yucatán and Quintana Roo since 2009 who perform songs in Maya. Recently, he has taken the international stage to his musical proposal, after the success of the song and music video “Xíimbal Kaaj,” performed with Yazmín Novelo.
Included in his ranks are Dino Chan (originally from Kantemó), with his song “This is my people;” Ángel Ileazar “El Chepe Yucatán” (native of Peto), with “My Mother;” the group La Gruta del Mayab (originating from Espita); Roy Góngora Magaña “Yaalen K’uj” (native of Akil); Luis Alberto Chan Cauich “Xiímbal Bej;” Angel David Pat Rosado “The Masewal;” the quartet Ich Naah (winners of the Maya language musical contest); and TihoRapers, among others.
Each one has songs inspired by daily life, carrying a message of conscience, for everyone. You can also follow their music videos on YouTube. Together they have made a compilation album available for sale.
Maya rap is a musical reality that is enriched with the expressions of its authors. The songs are inspired by the current Maya culture. More and more young people from Maya-speaking communities find, in this genre, the freedom to express themselves in their mother tongue and bring their voices and sound proposals to the ears of those who seek something different.
Let yourself be carried away by the rhythm and cadence of the Maya language! Listen to the rap and hip hop of Yucatán.
Editorial by Violeta H. Cantarell
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