Planting Seeds of Change through Hip Hop

Screen print made with Hip Hop collective “Colectivo Amatska”. Photo Cred: Macarena Arias

After knowing that Edu and Punko were planning to come to Pucallpa to perform their music and share some workshops with the local mestizo Hip Hop collective, Colectivo Amatska, I knew I had to invite them to share their art and knowledge with Shipibo youth in the communities of Santa Clara and San Francisco.

Edu and Punko, both former members of the already separated but nonetheless iconic Hip Hop group Comité Pokofló, have a very prolific music trajectory. Their lyrics, packed with critical and political messages, have invited Hip Hop fans around Latin America and the world to question the status quo and become engaged change makers in their communities. They are part of what they call “Hip Hop Organizado” (organized hip hop). In this way, Hip Hop is not only a music genre that people listen to, but a movement that through its four elements (Rap, Breakdancing, Graffiti, and Self-Education) provides space for the political engagement of youth through their own autonomous collectives.

Upon arriving to San Francisco on September 21st, Edu and Punko decided to do two workshops; one about wallets-making with recycled materials, and the other an introduction to rap lyric composition

Edu facilitating the recycling workshop. Photo Cred: Macarena Arias

The recycling workshop was not only a way for participants to engage in artistic and creative endeavors with an environmental conscience, but also gives participants skills to do good quality crafts that they could later sell. The wallets made were mockingly decorated with political satire cartoons, and invited participants to think about their own designs and themes.

However, the rap lyric composition component was definitely the highlight of the afternoon. After Edu and Punko demonstrated their rapping skills and poignant lyrics, I could see how a deep seeded fire had rekindled within participants. With their eyes glowing and their heads nodding to the cadence of words projected like spitted fire, I heard one of them deeply resonating with the music as he said “es la pura verdad” (it’s nothing but the truth).

Clapping ensued. “We need to make this music but in Shipibo!” Carli Estrella, a young leader exclaimed. “I want to learn how to rap, where can I find your music?” another youngster said, after Edu gifted him one of his CD’s so that he could listen to their music.

After seeing these reactions, we knew that the work had been done. The seeds had been planted.

Edu and Punko demonstrating how to compose rap lyrics. Photo Cred: Macarena Arias

Before leaving, we exchanged contact information, with the determination to go back and continue to promote youth organization, vision, and social change through art. I left, more convinced than ever, with the belief that art is a profound tool for social transformation and popular education, and that it is instrumental for movement building in order to change the world! In the future, we hope to continue to build bridges between the local Hip Hop collective, Colectivo Amatska, and Shipibo youth. Hopefully we can rejoice in art, knowledge exchange, and the creation of the world we want to live in.       

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