Tz´utu Kan Mayan Hip Hop

Tz´ij rixin Mayab / The Mayan word   by: Tzutu Kan
Xakol achi´i xe kam awumal / Many males died for you
Xakol ixoq´i´ xe ch´ojin a wumal / many females fought for you
Xe tzijban xe tzijon pa ri nim a´qa´ / written and spoken in the great night
Xe cobin xqi q´asba ri a kotz´ij / they kept the word alight {lit, on fire, burning}

In spite of all the siege, starvation, the ancestral word resisted!! But inevitably the Xinca and Izta languages are extinguished. In 1996, the promotion of bilingual schools was signed into the “Peace Accords”… twenty-four years later we do not see any substantial changes. In my town for example the language is being lost, the Maya Tz´utujil culture.

Tzutu Kan means the flow of the serpent and represents the rebirth of Maya poetry.

“Tzutu is an Tz´utujil rapper who is changing the notion of Mayan poetry in contemporary arts. His music includes native sounds and modern instruments, creating a unique sound. The Maya Hip Hop mission is a dual, artistic and spiritual project that represent the ancestral word, the fabric that give origin to the creation and formation in the Mayan cosmogony, his music mixes Post-classic Mayan sound with Hip Hop and lyrics composed in Mayan languages that advocate for cultural, ecology, peace and justice”.

History: In 2009 my need to communicate in my language was born, the Mayan word pushed me to revitalize it. We use visual arts, music and poetry as a platform for promoting it. 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 the 2010 and the goal is to combine Mayan spirituality with Arts and to achieve a fusion between the indigenous Cosmovision or worldview and music.

2010 we created the first school of Mayan RAP in the highlands, Caza Ajaw.”, where we inspired the community to project themselves artistically in their language.

2012 we formed the group “Balam Ajpu” and with the tutelage of grandmothers, grandfathers, spiritual guides, midwives, musicians, producers and visual artists, we consolidated the musical-ritual tribute to the “20 Nawales“: the 20 Nawales, the 20 days of natural time and the base of cosmovision in the Mayan Culture.

The 2016 release of the album “20 Nawales” worldwide was published in various media such as the Washington Post, NYTimes, Japan Times… Because of its strong linguistic, spiritual and educational content, it quickly attracted the attention of music and poetry festivals. Linguists and anthropologists have written essays on the project, and it is now reading curriculum in Latin American Studies departments at different universities in the U.S., with this we have seen that music with identity, combined with native languages, are a highly effective tool to create interest in the community and mitigate language loss.

Casa Kan

Since 2010 I have been working very hard to build a school for the arts. Working as an artist has been very difficult in Guatemala because we do not have many well-paid contracts in the country, but we have had opportunities to travel abroad, and have participated in international festivals and have given talks at universities in the USA. With scarce work in the arts I had slowly been able to build the house/school. I worked for 10 years building this dream. The building’s wood had many carvings, it was practically a sculpture, my piece of art. On April 8 thieves broke into the house to steal my tools. I filed a complaint with the police and the municipality but there was no response.

Unfortunately, on the morning of May 10 at 1am two boys came to wake me up, they informed me that my house was burning because they saw it from the other side of the hill. I ran to the house, I also thought it could be a kidnapping, but to my misfortune when I arrived, the fire had already spread and there was no water to put out the fire, and I could not get close because it was a great column of fire. The fire consumed the entire wooden house, and burned everything around the house: the avocado trees, the corn plants and the bean plants. The area was devastated, and the house was burned in its entirety, except for the stone foundations that were the only thing that was saved.

The fire was deliberately caused, since there was no gas or electricity in the house … I started to investigate and found indications of where the fire started. I found the papers they used to start the fire, papers that I did not have in the house. I also found caps from beer bottles and a can of food. We have suspicions of people who live near my house, because they have a known record of frequent criminal activity. The complaints were presented to the Public Ministry, an entity that is dedicated to investigating crimes, but due to the coronavirus, they are not attending to this type of crime, the judge told me.

All the dreams were lost, years of work disappeared.The most painful thing is that we have space problems with my family, because we live in a very small house, a house that already needs to be demolished because it has cracks in the walls, and especially during the rainy season it gets very wet. I feel it is dangerous for our health, especially in these times. We were looking forward to being able to move soon into the new space.

Now I can no longer travel to the United States. The concert dates are canceled, and also during my last entry to the United States they asked me to begin using another type of visa. Previously I used a tourist visa, but now they are asking for an artist’s visa, and it is a slightly more complicated and expensive process to obtain one.

This is all like a bad dream that I want to wake up from, I lack the strength to understand that my home / school no longer exists.

Fortunately, many people from my community came to donate food and financial support, as well as all the friends, friends from different countries, who have sent me moral and financial support, I sincerely thank you all.

Watch this 8-minute video about Tz’utu Kan and the fire.

Tz´utu Kan Mayan Hip Hop

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