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Summer Music: Indian K Explores His Identity In 'Duality 2'

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The hip hop artist Indian K is a member of the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians. He spent the early part of his childhood living on his tribe’s reservation. His life has taken him on a long and winding road through foster care and prison and back into the community as a respected musician.

Speaker 1: 00:00 The hip hop artist, Indian K is a member of the Rin con Luiseno tribe of mission Indians. He spent the early part of his childhood in San Diego on his tribe's reservation in Runcorn. His life has taken him on a long road, through foster care and prison and back into the community as a respected musician through it, all Indian Kay's lyrics remained positive and full of hope. As part of the last episode of our summer music series, Indian Ks spoke with Alison st. John here's his song

Speaker 2: 01:15 [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 01:26 Indian K. Welcome to midday edition.

Speaker 2: 01:29 Well, thank you guys. Thank you guys for having me. I appreciate it.

Speaker 1: 01:33 You are from the Rincon band of Luiseno mission Indians, and you lived on the reservation until you were 11. How was it to go back and forth between reservation, life and, and life on the outside as it were,

Speaker 2: 01:47 It was just different. Where every time I leave there and go to the city, I felt like out of place, but I'm kind of used to it. It was more like a homely, a homely feeling, you know, being on the Rez and then in the city, it's like real fast paced. Everything's fast paced. Even back then on the reds, you can feel it fall back. You can feel time, not stop, but you feel it like slow down. That was the difference right there for me.

Speaker 1: 02:19 Why two of your albums are called duality and duality too? Does this all have something to do with it?

Speaker 2: 02:25 It definitely does. Um, I battle myself. I'm a street guy, but I also know the love of being part of my people. You know? So it's, and it's not a battle of like, I'm trying to choose good or you will know. I choose good, but it's, I still have a understanding of the other side. You know,

Speaker 1: 02:47 I'm going to listen to a song now called little Indian boy, which is off your album. Duality. Tell us who it's for.

Speaker 2: 02:55 I made that song for my son. I have three kids, two girls, one boy, and I know what it's like to be on the Rez and, and be part of the crowd. That's like, Oh, they're not Indian enough because they don't live here. And I also know what it's like to be in the city and hear people from the reds be like, they're not Indian enough. You know me? I'm all right. My son though, he, I don't want him to have a hard time. So I made the song for not just him, but it's for all. It's for everybody. Like as long as you find your identity, little windy, boy, let me walk with you. I know your city limits, but they lost because people get to hate. When you tell them you wake up in home. But this reservation saying most of us detached from over chin.

Speaker 2: 03:39 So was more about waiting until we get adapted to the city, like holding onto our products. But because we rocked stickies and chucks, we ain't native enough. Kill that noise. It's about respecting the lands, protecting not women racing, Kings and Queens. You dig it. You make feel the weight of the world. Cause in today's society, people get into power and hope. You never know. It might just stop the books and keep the ball rolling. So let's keep this in the lab. But we got to see the desk to the times finding the path we got to try.

Speaker 1: 04:13 That was little Indian boy by San Diego, artist, Indian K off his album. Duality. You were passing on knowledge to your son, but tell us a little bit about how you grow up. That taught you these lessons.

Speaker 2: 04:25 My mother and my father were, you know, they were involved in a street like my, my father, more so gangs by his own choosing me. I bounced around a lot between family, not really stable by the time I was 11 I'm in Phoenix, Arizona, and group homes. And we're not talking like orphan Annie stuff. We're talking like adolescents, I guess, coming out of juvenile prisons, juvenile halls, the misfits, I guess. And we had to make choices to survive. And

Speaker 1: 05:00 Yeah, you, you grew up in a group home and you ended up in the criminal justice system and ended up locked up. But that experience, that prison experience really turned your life around. Didn't it? Tell us what happened in there.

Speaker 2: 05:16 I like to tell people, you know, prison is gonna, it's gonna do one or two things for you. You're gonna realize that you're okay with living the life you live. Are you gonna say, I don't want to live like this and before I went to prison, but I was still on the run. Uh, I met a beautiful woman, you know, beautiful. And I'm not talking look some stock in her soul, beautiful woman. And um, I actually violated my parole at the time she got pregnant. I saw, I went back on a pro violation. She's pregnant. I'm like, Oh my gosh, I'm gonna miss the birth of my kid dad right there. That was, that was a big moment. That was a big moment. I said, you're done. You're not doing this no more because if I'm not raising my kids, then I'm just like, my father had no district or my father, I love my father, but I just repeat the cycle. You know what I'm saying? I just repeat the cycle.

Speaker 1: 06:18 Did you meet any other people that you could relate to from your own culture, American Indians also, you know, who, who sort of became brothers for you while you were in there?

Speaker 2: 06:29 Yeah. I met a lot of good brothers. Like all my brothers are good. Um, you know, we're allowed to sweat inside and we, you know, we eat together and I won't lie. I wouldn't have known sweat lodge. I wouldn't have, I wouldn't have known a lot of our structure if I didn't go to prison. Like just as being, you know, American, Indian, like I experienced more of my culture being locked up then on the outside, which I always looked at my culture as being proud. Cause my father has always told me that, but experience in it, I was like, yo, we're like, we're better than this. Like, what am I doing? Why am I, why is my first sweat lodge inside of freaking penitentiary? Like

Speaker 1: 07:11 Kind of paradoxical, but Hey, that's what saved you in a way? What makes this thing from your culture? What makes the sweat lodge such a powerful experience for people who don't know what that is?

Speaker 2: 07:24 So sweat lodge, it's like, um, if you go to church, I mean, whatever, whatever place you go to worship, you know, uh, Allah, God, I say creator. I w if we're all talking about the same thing, so it's just our place of worship.

Speaker 1: 07:43 You know, San Diego actually has more reservations than any other County in the United States. Do you think San Diego fans know enough about, you know, the original peoples who lived for centuries in this area? What would you like them to understand? More of?

Speaker 2: 08:00 I don't think they do. I've ran into people that were asked me, you know, where I was from. And when I told them I tried, there were like, where's that? And I had to be like outside of Escondido and they still kind of didn't know. And that's all right, because out here I noticed our residents are pushed back into, you know, the East Valley. And so that mountain, so they're kind of like hidden from the city. But one thing I do want people to know is like, this is our Indian land right here. This is it's good to know. Your surroundings is good to know the original people from here. And we're here. Like, that's, that's it. Like, I don't, I don't really push the Indian part as crazy, but you know, just, I just want people to know, man, like even after all this time, we're able to still have intact a culture of belonging, a feeling, uh, uh, uh, understanding of who we are.

Speaker 1: 08:59 What do you think about all the talk of racial justice that's going on right now?

Speaker 2: 09:06 I think that if, if people don't see a problem with the quality, then they're blind. If we can't respect one race, then all lives don't matter. I think that, you know, it's an injustice. There's a, there's a divide. There's there's racism. Like there's racism, the same stuff that happens. White people, I want a lenient level of black person would get killed. A colored person will get killed. That's just facts. It's proven you can look it up. It's not there's no, there's no racial equality. That's why we're fighting for racial equality.

Speaker 1: 09:40 Indian K have a fabulous day. It's great to talk with you. Really great.

Speaker 2: 09:44 Well ma'am I appreciate your time. Thank you so much and trust they didn't take, we make it this far youth today. Hate us big, bro. What goes up? Keeps going that money missions hungry handicap told me God was dead. Top shelf, sipping craft beer. The homies laughing, stepped up. Nah, just don't my talents. And my passions passing these dudes by these dudes full time. I switched lanes heading, send a paper, the mood's right. Moonlight. Show me I'm a star, but no, but James show me Gavin would the, the bigger planet solid foundation. No shame is saying. I loved y'all when nights was roughly with just me and big breath. Now nights get rough with coal stove, top flight. It ain't the same job, but we the same dog, the same dog. I'm just going out there. My life, my life. This is dreams me and Graciela reality. So reality. I'm just going to live my life. Brought to reality.

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.