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There are many ways to make sure that queer Indigenous voices are heard. Music is just one of them. From indie rock to hip-hop, stretching from folk all the way to dubstep-tinged pop, a diverse cohort of LGBTQ+ Indigenous artists are representing the struggles, joys and complexities of their communities. They’re also just making damn good music. That’s why Them lifestyle editor Quispe López and I curated this playlist that’s perfect to bump during Indigenous People’s Month or any time of year.
Kicking off the playlist is Black Belt Eagle Scout, the musical moniker of singer-songwriter Katherine Paul. Her dulcet but melancholy track “Indians Never Die,” off her 2018 debut album Mother of My Children, was inspired by the Dakota Access Pipeline protests at Standing Rock. In a press statement accompanying the song, Paul made a powerful statement about the meaning of its title: “Imagine hearing on the news that the government doesn’t support you as a human being and never has […] Indigenous people are the protectors of this land. Indians never die because this is our land that we will forever protect in the present and the afterlife.” The poignant indie folk song meditates on that message with soothing vocals and somber guitar lines.
Elsewhere on the list, Colombian-Canadian Afro-Indigenous singer-songwriter Lido Pimienta delivers Latin alt-pop stylings on the undulating “Eso Que Tu Haces.” On the heartbreaking track, Pimienta sings in Spanish about coming to terms with a one-sided love while finding compassion for herself. Australian musician Mo'Ju also brings us a blues-inspired heavy hitter with their track “Native Tongue” off their 2018 album of the same name. The haunting track features The Pasefika Vitoria Choir with a gorgeous acapella melody that pairs perfectly with the soulful lead vocals.
But perhaps my favorite track on the list is from the Indigenous Mexican MC and vocalist Frosty. Her ’90s hip hop-inspired track “Not Exotic,” off her album All Frost No Ice, absolutely floored me. Frosty bravely and unabashedly leans into feelings of anger and rage, while waxing poetic about her Indigenous pride. Over a foreboding, bassy beat she raps, “Don’t call me exotic’ motherfucker / I’m Indigenous / and even in your most evolved state you couldn’t get with this.” I can’t wait to hear more from this self-proclaimed “rapatista” (rapper/zapatista) in the future.
For all of these tracks and more check out our Queer Indigenous Artists Playlist below:
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