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Quese IMC On Using Hip-Hop As A Way To Bring People Together

 Quese IMC
Quese IMC

This is Songwriters & Tour Riders, a music podcast from KOSU and Oklahoma State University and hosted by Matthew Viriyapah.

Quese IMC is a Native American hip-hop artist and citizen of the Pawnee and Seminole Nations. He has been part of the hip-hop scene in Oklahoma for many years and helped organize Culture Shock Camp, one of the early hip-hop summits, to help establish what Oklahoma and Native American hip-hop looks like today.

Listen above to hear Quese IMC talk about his story in hip-hop, the growth of Native hip-hop as a genre, and his five-year hiatus from making music.

On Native hip-hop

There wasn't really a place for Native Americans. And so back in the 90's... we wanted to creat that genre, Native hip-hop. But early on, it wasn't embraced. It wasn't pushed. There wasn't an outlet. So we had to create those outlets. We had to create those opportunities ourselves.

With Culture Shock Camp, with our hip-hop event that we did, we did it to create our own opportunity... But we opened it to everybody. The only thing designated for Native hip-hop artists was the concert. To show the people that there are Native artists out there. Cause for us, this was what was coming.

And that's why today, Native hip-hop is a genre. Back then it wasn't. Back then even Natives would be like, 'let's just call it hip-hop. Why do we have to call it Native hip-hop?'

Because we're Native. And this is where we're from and this is our land. We've been overlooked for so long and this is our story.

The spirit is universal. That Indigenous spirit of connection of all things... you can put that energy into your music and that's universal. That speaks to everybody.

On music returning to his life

I haven't made music in five years. And I thought maybe I'd make music a few years ago, but when I  realized, I think that's it. I think I'm done. And I told my dad at the time — rest in peace — he would always know that I was kind of down all these years because I wasn't creating.

And he would say, 'You know son, you ever thought about making music again.' And I was like, 'Nah, Dad. I think I'm done. Yeah I think I'm done.' And he goes, 'Well you know music always made you happy so maybe one day you'll make music again.'

So as years went by I made peace with it... During the pandemic and after losing my father, the ancestors and the spirits and my dad started speaking to me from the spirit world, and I started to understand and listen. And one thing that I always said over all these years, 'if I'm going to make music, it has to come back to me. It's going to have to find me. And if it finds me, and I feel it in my spirit and my heart, then I'll know.'

But I never anticipated it coming back, but then 2020. The beginning of 2020 it came back. It came back strong. Totally blinded that I would make music again. But it all happened organically and when it happened... I felt this excitement, this joy, like a friend came back to my life.

It was everything that I always missed, and I just created music.

Music featured in this episode:

  1. Quese IMC - Waiting Room
  2. Public Enemy - Fight the Power
  3. Quese IMC - Turtles Warpath
  4. Quese IMC - Let's be friends feat. Cheevers Toppah
  5. Quese IMC - Landback
  6. Quese IMC - Love so potent
  7. Quese IMC - Pawnee Water is Life feat. Pawnee Singers
  8. Quese IMC - Revolution feat. Lincka & Nymasis
  9. Quese IMC - Pandemic Prosper
  10. Quese IMC - Yeah Yeah

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Matthew Viriyapah is KOSU's production assistant and host of the music podcast Songwriters & Tour Riders.
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