A 15-Year-Old Hip-Hop Artist Is Using His Talents to Save the Planet at the U.N. & On Stage (Video)
Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is breathing new life into what it means to be a “conscious” MC. The Boulder, Colorado native speaks three languages (English; Spanish; & Nahuatl, an indigenous Aztec language) and at only 15 years of age, he has already spoken at the United Nations conference on the topic of climate change, sat on Obama’s youth council, organized global initiatives as youth director of the Earth Guardians, and launched a Hip-Hop career with a powerful message. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Martinez shared his views on ecological issues and how the Hip-Hop he performs with his brother, Itzcuauhtli, aims to promote messages of conservation, mindfulness, and respect for the planet.
A fan of Common, Jurassic 5, Ludacris, and Tupac, Martinez wrote a song with his brother (who is only 11) called “Speak for the Trees,” which has been selected as a theme song for the COP21, the massive United Nations Climate Change Conference taking place this Fall in Paris. Featured on the brothers’ album Generation RYSE, the track is not the first in Hip-Hop to argue for ecological awareness, but it may be the first from such a young artist with wisdom beyond his years. “There’s a disconnect between the problem and the cause, because we don’t want to admit to ourselves that we have created this catastrophe. To make that connection is tough. That’s asking people to change the way they think. Which is tougher than asking people to change their light bulbs,” he shares with journalist Coco McPherson. That wisdom seems to come from his ancient heritage, which traces back thousands of years. “The way I was raised, the Mashika people, the Aztec people of Mexico City, we share many of the same ideas and beliefs that Indigenous people around the world do: that sense of caretaking of the planet, that everything around us is a gift, and we have to protect it.”
Martinez is continuing an environmentally focused approach to Hip-Hop music explored by artists like Arrested Development, Dr. Octagon, and Mos Def. While the marriage of racial and economic politics and music is much more common fare, is there more space for Hip-Hop’s voice to be used for ecological issues?