Quese IMC: “We’re Still Here, We Survived”

Give us an introduction… What’s up? My name is Quese IMC, or Little Eagle. I’m from the Pawnee and Seminole tribes of Oklahoma. My Pawnee side, I’m Wolf Band and on my Seminole side I’m Bear Clan. Originally I’m from a small town in Oklahoma near my reservation and I been living out here in Los Angeles for almost 5 years. Basically I came out here to pursue music, entertainment. I just came out here to see what LA was like and see what it was about. I had never really been outside of Oklahoma, but I just took that step of belief and it took me a lot of places.

Did you make a lot of music before you moved out to LA? I started doing music, like actually making beats and performing since I was about 9 or 10 and I started rapping when I was 7, basically all the old-school Hip-Hop back in ’83 and ’84. I just kept doing music and started working in studios back in like ’91 and ’92 and just been making music ever since. I came to LA and would say that, with its creative energy, it allowed me to grow even more. I think people take steps, you know, and make changes in their life. So, for me, LA allowed me to grow musically in that way. And it was interesting to come out here and see a lot of people into activism and indigenous culture and stuff like that. It was good to see that.

How strong is the Native Hip-Hop scene? The Native Hip-Hop scene is thriving, you know, it’s a movement. Being Native is already a political status here in the United States as far as it goes for the Indian Wars we fought with the United States government, and we still fight those. A lot of Native artists talk about that, I talk about that. I talk about where we come from and the struggles of our people, our stories, stories that a lot of people don’t hear. If they do hear it, it’s usually from a non-native. So I believe this movement of our voices being heard, through music, through Hip-Hop, through any type of art, is important because it allows us to speak for ourselves. Within the Hip-Hop scene its dope, it’s growing, it’s a movement and I’m glad to be a part of it, I’m glad to have been a part of it from when it really got started back in the mid-90s. It’s basically a movement like any other movement, but it’s a movement of this continent, this land, you know, the voice of the people of this land. It’s like if we were to go to Africa, we would want to hear the voices of the people of Africa. I couldn’t talk about it for them. I can’t talk about the struggles in Africa, or China, or Palestine, because I’m not from there, but I can relate to it through parallels and stories. So, through our words, that have long been here, this is an opportunity, here in the 7th generation, for us to express ourselves as young indigenous artists, performers, and spiritual beings. That’s our message, that’s my message. The Native Hip-Hop scene is thriving, there’s shows all over, different tribes are coming together, there’s different struggles on each reservation with land, water, sacred-sites, our sacred mountains, our sacred canyons, the scared rivers that we have. We have to struggle, but for us it’s a beautiful movement, it’s a beautiful thing because we’re still here, we survived.

Is Hip-Hop our best tool in spreading our message out there? I believe Hip-Hop is a great medium to reach people, just like with any type of music. People are going to follow music because they follow the words, they follow the melodies, the beats. People listen, people grasp on to key words that trigger something within their mind or their spirit and they could become hooked. In a good way, in a positive way, and they continue to listen to the lyrics and to the music. It can help our people and I believe that because I’ve seen it in my own life. I’ve seen people touched or moved spiritually through music, through songs. Even our traditional Indian songs that we sing at ceremonies are powerful because we believed everything was passed orally through our stories. We didn’t have to write it down because we didn’t have to remind ourselves who we were. We always knew it and felt it in our spirit. To me that’s what music is, music comes from the spirit, it comes from the stars, it’s a message that needs to be heard. If people feel it they feel it in their spirit. Some people are moved emotionally, they get hyped into a frenzy, but emotion comes and goes, spirit can be a part of you forever because that’s who you are and I believe music can do that to you. Music can heal people. People need to be healed. People want to take militant action, which is good, but if they’re not healed inside, within themselves, how can that foundation stand? That’s why, as indigenous people, we believe in spirituality. Nothing can stop that, nothing has ever stopped that. No government, so person can stop your spiritual movement of who you are. If you have that, you have that light. Music has that and if music can allow you to find that in yourself, that’s beautiful. That’s healing and, to me, that’s what it’s about. It’s about life.

 How have you used Hip-Hop, besides as an artist, to move and motivate people? The shows that I’ve been a part of have always had a message, and that message could be fighting for our rights as indigenous people with land issues or water issues and people may not necessarily know about those things, but if they come because they see Hip-Hop or they see artists in it they like, they’ll come and they’ll catch that message. Then maybe they’ll get on the internet or they’ll read a book and they’ll learn more about it, and then maybe, just maybe, if it moves them enough in their spirit and they truly believe about a struggle, maybe they’ll make a trip out to where that struggle is. I believe its important in organizing and doing shows, you know, we can organize in big groups in the cities, but a lot of times the struggles are far away. Just like the struggles here in the city that we take action on and try to find solutions for, it’s good to sometimes journey to where other struggles are. Like me, I know there’s a lot of struggles in Mexico, but I’ve never been to Mexico, so I can’t really speak on it, but I wanna go, I wanna go and see what it’s like. Just like I wanna go to Palestine, I’d like to do to Africa. I’d like to go and see it for myself, I think as organizers sometimes we have to see it for ourselves and when you see it yourself you feel it and you believe in it and then you  really want ot become a part of it. Some people just come and jump on, they jump on for a time and then it doesn’t move them anymore and they leave, maybe it never moved them in the beginning, maybe it was just something they wanted to pick up for a little bit to help them in their lives, but some people believe it and it becomes a part of their lives. That’s what I think organizing is, that’s how it stands the test of time, you believe in it. You believe in tit because it affects you directly and if you can send that message to other people and it affects their spirit in the same way they become, not just your friends or your allies, but your brothers and your sisters. That’s when you have those believers who are gonna be there, when you have those spiritual brothers and sisters. That’s how organizing stays continuous, it’s always gone on and it will still continue long after we’re gone from this earth, it will continue for those yet to come. That’s what I feel in my heart. If I believe in it, I’m right there.

Is there anything else you want people to know about you? I’m part of a Native American law firm that fights for the rights of indigenous people, it’s called NARF, Native American Right Fund. I’m also part of a non-profit called Envision, and basically we go out to reservations and we put on workshops for Native youth in the arts, whether it be music or DJing, graffiti, media, film, photography. We basically want to give our Native youth an outlet, rather than alcohol or drugs because our Native people are really oppressed with this alcoholism and drugs so we’re trying to find a different way, a solution, not one but many solutions to find healing for our people. That and I love Hip-Hop. Hip-Hop moved me since I was 7 years old. It was the words of “Free South Africa” to the “Stop the Violence Movement” back in the day. I felt it I was moved and I been part of it ever since. Know I’ve been given the opportunity to talk about the struggle of my people, and that’s a beautiful thing. All I can say is that the time is coming. Mother Earth is cleansing herself. It’s been told in prophecy, it’s been told in ceremony. Things are changing in the world, things are changing in the stars and we’re gonna see that here soon in this world and people are gonna be moved in a good way or in a bad way, but Mother Earth is gonna cleanse herself. What we can do at this time is to live our lives in the best way that we can and to bring healing to people because ultimately if Mother Earth needs to be healed it must mean that the people need to be healed. Too many people live in trauma and that can be taken care of so that’s what I’m about. I love Hip-Hop, I love my people, I love my tribe, I love my culture. More at http://myspace.com/queseimcmusic

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Categories: Indigenous Issues, LA Hip-Hop

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