Tzutu Kan

Mayan Cosmovision Hip Hop

 

 

A pesar de la inanición los idiomas ancestrales sobrevivieron en lo mas profundo de la noche, en lo mas oscuro de los bosques Quechuas, Dakotas & Mayas, voces & ritmos ancestrales nos cautivan y todos tienen algo en común la reivindicación de los idiomas ancestrales.  

Tz'utu Kan means ¨The sprout, the shoot of the snake¨ I was reborn in the Tz'utujil nation and grew up under the teachings of my grandfather Cu Aj Chavajay.  We are a large clan of artists, agriculturalists and builders of cane and mud from the central Maya highlands.

 

We grew up under military, governmental and religious siege. In 1982 the genocidal military government of Rios Mont, supported by the USA, was implementing a law of "scorched earth".  When I was four years old together with my family and the whole town we were gathered by military dressed as civilians in front of the atrium of the church, with the intentions of exterminating us all, but the Ak-47s did not work, they got stuck... we are still alive, thanks to the intervention of our protective deity IMOX, the Nawal of Water.

When I was sixteen years old I left home to study in a nearby city.  When I arrived to the city, I faced all kinds of racism. Despite all of that I was positioning myself as an artist. The way of life of the cities took me away from many important things, they took me away from my culture.

In 2001 I traveled a bit further. I visited many countries through painting, a constant search took me to many cities like Barcelona and NYC, from the streets I was inspired by the booming "Kulture of Hip Hop" and there awoke the idea of RAP in Mayan languages.

The first time I got on stage was in a concert of Caramelo Criminal in Panajachel (Lake Atitlan) in 2008, I call this group of Hip Hop artists my godfathers, because they invited me to improvise.

 

There was something I was looking for, little by little I found it through the visual arts. I began to meet the spiritual guides of Lake Atitlán and I began to investigate with the healer Ajcun Venancio Morales, and we began to meet the Nawals with grandfather Tat Pedro Cruz. Everything I was looking for was there in the spirituality, in the Maya word, as a reference I used the prayers of the grandmothers and grandfathers. That is where we received the mission to sing in the Mayan languages.

 

The Mayan Hip Hop Pioneers
My need to communicate in my language grew, the Maya word pushed me to work to revitalize it. We use visual arts, music and poetry as a platform for promoting the Maya word. As foundation we have the traditional calendar Chol-Q'ij and the rehabilitation of the language has been the cornerstone of the movement.

 

Mayan Hip Hop begins in 2009 and the goal is to combine Mayan spirituality with Arts and to achieve a fusion between the indigenous Cosmovision or worldview and music.

 

I recorded my first demo in Estudios Atitlán. I remember that the recording was to participate in a contest, and that the prize would be the recording of an album, but the people from the contest commented that it did not enter because it was in a Mayan language, so that pushed me even more to make my own album.

 

That year I met Básico3, Hip Hop artist and producer from Guatemala City, who invited me to his studio. That day he showed me a beautiful track and I suggested singing a phrase and that day the Flame "Kotzij" was lit. He later invited me to participate in an event called "Hip Hop Sinfónico", marimbas, violins, the youth orchestra of Guatemala City and the beats of Basico3 was a bomb. That night we interpreted La Llama (The Flame) / Kotz'ij.


I began to approach the Hip Hop scene in the Mayan lands and I heard about a group called Ijatz Urbana. I had not heard them live, but I heard rumors that they were rapping in Kaqchiquel, and wow that ignited more interest in rapping in Tz'utujil. My brother DJ Bulla baptized me with the name Tz'utu. That is how Tz'utu Kan was born on a serpentine night in Lake Atitlan.

 

2010: From the communities, groups of young people would invite me, organizing  activities for the cultural vindication of October 20th "Día de La Raza". San Pablo is like the cradle of Maya Hip Hop because it was from there that I started my first concerts. Coincidentally the original name of San Pablo is Pa B´atz´bal, where art is threaded.

In the mother highlands a Mayan movement grew and began to flourish in the early 90's. Rock groups from Chiapas through The Cuchumatanes to the boca costa in Sipacapa, they all versed in Mayan languages. Sobrevivencia is the legend of Rock in the Mam language, also there was Ijatz' Urbana the pioneers of Hip Hop in Kaqchiquel; currently one of the members of Ijatz' Urbana lives in exile, another great story is about the Mayan rapper Nim Ala and the Yaxon brothers.

 

In the last 500 years the persecution of the Mayan spiritual guides was constant, and during the genocide it was a massacre. Many spiritual guides were disappeared and murdered. In 2020 in the middle of the pandemic I saw in the news about how a group of angry evangelicals burned Domingo Choc, a great Mayan scientist, in the middle of the day.

 

In 2010 Mayan art lost a great artist and Aj Q´ij, Tat Lisandro Guarcax, founding member of an important organization of Mayan Kaqchikel artists. The Sotz'iles, the memory of Lizando Guarcax was honored with the Ri a Q'ux Festival, where we had the privilege of participating
 

In 2011 the Mayan Word began to open big cracks and very quickly entered big festivals like "Manifestarte". With Basico3, Big James and Verbo, we had a couple of presentations that were marking the foundations of Maya Hip Hop, we recorded a couple of demos, La Llama/Kotzij, Naq Che Qa Wa & Chilam Balam, the songs remained in demos but opened a great breach. 

2012: The Mayan calendar was marking the great change of the 13 Baktun- it was not the end of the world as declaimed in media.  In the Book of Chilam Balam it was written; ¨Do not forget your languages, do not forget your songs and that at this time the Mayan grandparents would return¨...

 

From that year we started to present ourselves with music internationally. The anthropologist Genner Llanes Ortiz invited me to participate in Eco-centrix, an exhibition of indigenous art in London. The anthropologist organized a Crowdfunding to cover the expenses of the trip, we raised the funds and the trip was made possible.

 

We received the official invitation from Mexico City to participate in the FliZocalo Feria del Libro del Zocalo in CDMX. It was a great honor to rap from the central square of the Great Tenochtitlan, that day I was accompanied by my brother Dj Bulla (La Finca Estudio).

 

2012 was a great year. We applied to the call for ZOM Zona Musical, and we were selected. ZOM was a festival that supported emerging projects, good groups came out of there, we did not want to be left behind and the community began to grow more and the Maya Hip Hop project was formed and consolidated in the Mayan lands.

 

If I had a transcendental moment in life it was the invitation to the International Poetry Festival of Medellin in 2014. I do not consider myself a poet, but being in this festival along with great poets of the world was a unique experience. 


Press notes:

GOOGLE ARTS & CULTURE (2019)

 Dr Genner Llanes-Ortiz (The British Museum):

"One of the most talented writers is Maya Tz'utuhil speaker, René Dionisio, aka MC Tz'utu Kan. Tz'utu's style is both traditional and contemporary, combining modern beats with ritual forms to communicate Maya spiritual worldviews. His songs mirror poetic forms that have been part of Maya literary traditions for centuries, still used today by spiritual guides and other ritual specialists. Tz'utu performs not only in his native language but also in K'ichee' and Kaqchikel. Although the three languages are part of the Mayan linguistic family, they still differ from each other."

 

REMEZCLA (2016) remezcla.com:

"Emcee and hip-hop educator Tzutu Baktun Kan is a force behind reclaiming the word "Maya" in the context of his home of Guatemala. He says, "For such a long time it was considered an insult to be Mayan; our ceremonies were prohibited and we were even prohibited from speaking our own Mayan languages [during the war]. Now, it is almost like a rebirth in an understanding of what it is to be Mayan. We want to wake up the people and bring our beliefs and stories to the light."

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Mayan Hip Hop Pioneer

Since 2009