Hip hop artist and activist Tufawon has released his latest EP, Self Care, which explores his call for justice, balance and healing for Mother Earth, indigenous people and the environment.
The five-track EP, which draws on many of the issues facing indigenous peoples the world over, follows a brief hiatus from music. The South Minneapolis-raised artist put his music career on hold to travel to South Dakota to be on the front lone during the Dakota Access Pipeline protests last year.
In an interview with MPR News, Tufawon, whose birth name is Rafael Gonzalez, said “I really felt a need to go there and represent my people. Standing Rock was my calling. Standing Rock was also a way for me to learn so much more about my own identity.”
Self Care is as much inspired by Tufawon’s experiences in the last year – from fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock, to speaking at panels and doing several hip hop tours around the world – as it is his hopes and dreams for the future, spirituality, and love.
Tufawon says: “The underlying message in my records is always connected to freedom.”
Mainly self-produced, the five track Self Care EP takes listeners through Tufawon’s different phases of his healing process. Self Care is a culmination of themes focused around friendship, self medication, spirituality, balance and resistance.
Tufawon, who is of Puerto Rican and Dakota descent, says his name, meaning “two for one”, represents his mixed heritage. Starting out as part of the hip hop trio Illuminous 3, Tufawon has since released two solo albums.
He says his work as a musician and an activist are intertwined, hip hop having particular resonance for him as an indigenous man. He said: “Wherever you find resistance, you’re more than likely going to find hip-hop. Hip-hop goes hand in hand with resistance.”
Tufawon’s Self Care EP is out now. It is available to buy from Bandcamp
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea