Yaiva releases new CD for upcoming tour

Navajo/Hopi hip hop artist Yaiva announces the release of his new CD, “The Essence,” which coincides with his tour.

Navajo/Hopi hip hop artist Yaiva announces the release of his new CD, “The Essence,” which coincides with his tour.

The Revolt Against Violence tour coincides with the release of Yaiva's newest CD, "The Essence."

"Back in November, I reached a crossroads in my life," Yaiva said. "I was considering where I was going to put my energy - was I to put all of my efforts into Native Movement or Keya Earth? I knew that music is where my heart is. So I prayed, asking what path do I need to be on?

"The next day I received a call from the First Native Composers Initiative, announcing that I would be receiving grant money to continue with my music," Yaiva continued. "So I put all of my energy into this album."

Yaiva described "The Essence" as being four or five levels higher, lyrically, than previous work. The album features new rhythms and techniques that the artist was not accustomed to, as well as stories from personal friends.

"Tony Skrelunas opens the album - he clowns on me in Navajo ," Yaiva said.

Other artists-F. Orion, Bahe, DJ SOE, Project X, Mowess and Meelo 63, JayNez, Big Luda, Zig Zag, SupaMan, Fabel, Victor-E, Night Shield, Arhythmatik, Tic Tile and 28 tha Native - join Yaiva throughout the 18 tracks.

Yaiva summarizes the sources of violence on reservations perfectly in "American Dream" - a powerful track - describing all of the illnesses associated with the so-called American Dream visited upon Native America.

Opening with the sounds of a heavy thunderstorm and pounding rain, Yaiva describes the dream as a killing machine. His verse is a powerful criticism of American history - and current events.

"I'm the reason the Office of Surface Mining approved the lifetime mining contracts," Yaiva raps. "I'm the reason strong families are fighting to keep intact. I'm the reason brothers kill brothers and sell the blood and soul of a mother. I'm the reason men of tradition sell their seeds of corn, squash and the melons. I'm the reason our youth feel they've seen heaven, earth.

"I'm the reason old White men think they can tell the young woman what she can do with her new birth.

"I'm the reason we have poor health care in the country of plenty, I'm the reason hard working people are committing evil just to get over. I'm the reason Native's point of view, pimp the hell out of culture.

"I'm a murderer never brought up on charges of homicide in the first degree."

Yaiva goes on to speak to the relocation, pillage and rape of Native Americans and their culture by dominating cultures.

"I haven't killed their culture and people completely," Yaiva continues. "But mark my words they will kill themselves. I give them alcohol, the BIA, guns and casinos, let them tast the flavor of greed, the sickness, the want turning to need - then they tell me they don't want me, tell me that their culture doesn't have a price and I show you that every being has a vice."

Other songs include "Life's Duality," "Spinning in the Tracks," and "Sick Wit It."

The stories shared by friends Kelvin Long, Daniel Rosen and Temashio Anderson weave a picture of modern life on the rez that is some might find unsettling, yet reflective of the sense of humor that taints the lives of Native America today.

Long describes his participation in the Window Rock Navajo Nation Fair parade along with the organization "Black Mesa Water Coalition."

One of his friends was carrying a sign featuring the McDonalds' logo within a red circle with a slash across it, reading "Traditional foods, not corporate." People yelled at the group along the miles, saying that they loved burgers and fries; and asking what was wrong with McDonalds.

"Around the second mile, there was this kid, he was about 10-years-old," Long said. "He comes right out of the crowd and walks right up to my bro that was carrying the sign and says 'I love McDonalds,' and he punched him right him in the belly, and I was like 'Yo, that kid just came out of the crowd and punched you in the belly because he loves McDonalds.'"

"You know, as this was happening, I was thinking in the back of my mind about the influence of a corporation that would make a child come out of a crowd to defend its logo," he added.

"It was crazy ... because I started thinking, what will he do when he becomes a teenager? Or when he's 20? Or, what are we gonna do?" Long concluded.

"Thanksgiving" is a story by Rosen who attended a Thanksgiving in Jerusalem, a situation he found odd because this is an American holiday. During the dinner, a young Israeli man asked about the origins of this American holiday, Rosen explained. Another man at the table responded and said in the early years, Native Americans taught the settlers how to survive, and in turn, the settlers killed off Native Americans.

"There is an awkward pause, and the man's like, 'And you guys celebrate this?'" Rosen concluded. "And the man's all, 'I know, it's kind of weird, isn't it?'"

Temashio Anderson spoke of making small talk with a friend's son in Lawrence, Kansas. Anderson was shocked yet happy to hear the boy's response to his question as to what he wanted to do when he grew up.

"He said something I'll never forget," Anderson said. "He said he'd like to make babies-it inspired me because a kid this age understands the concepts of what he's growing up around. It made me proud.

"I asked him where he'd learned that, and he told me his mom had taught him that."

The boy said that when he looked around, there weren't many Indians around.

"I reminded him of the responsibilities of bringing a life into the world," Anderson said. "I understood the concept of his vision."

The songs and stories of "The Essense" are just some of Yaiva's work over the past few months. He considers the album the first of two-the second will feature a Hopi intro.

Yaiva recognized other contributors to the new album, including Eunice Tso of ETD Inc., LaFonda Restaurant, and Native Girls Clothing of Southern California.

The majority of the proceeds from this album will go to youth programs and outreach through the Peace and Balance Project.

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