Rap music used to preserve Maya language in the Yucatan Peninsula
A group of young men from the Yucatan Peninsula, use hip hop and rap to preserve and promote their native tongue: Maya.
According to data from INEGI (National Institute of Statistics and Geography), there are currently more than 780,000 people that speak Maya as a native tongue. And according to data from aboutworldlanguages.com a total of five million individuals practice it on a daily basis in Mexico, Guatemala and Belize.
But a “crew” of eight young men of Maya descent decide to express themselves through rap music, communicating with people all over the world, that probably would have never heard the language, if it wasn’t for the virality of social media.
On Wednesday May 4 2016, the song’s video “Estoy Contento” (I am happy) from the rap group “Tiho-rappers Crew” was posted on YouTube, it went viral, and today it has over 2.5 million reproductions.
This collective of young men between the ages of 16 and 21 years old from Tihosuco, in northeast Quintana Roo, has written and interpreted hip hop themes mixing Spanish and Maya for four years now.
The crew attends high school or college and they all have the same goal: saving their native tongue through music.
They narrate their everyday life, their surroundings and their perception of the country’s situation through rap.
“Nowadays a lot of people think that speaking your native tongue is a bad thing and use Spanish instead. In order to do something to prevent Maya language from disappearing, we thought the best way to transmit it was using rap music” added Luis Felipe, (aka MC Chama), member of the crew.
Their producer, Tania Jimenez of ADN Maya Producciones bets on the importance of promoting the use of this language as well as their culture between young people, and this is possible thanks to music and art.
Before their video went viral, Tiho-rappers Crew had only made local feature presentations, but with the help of social media, their work have reached unimaginable places.
“Besides singing in our native tongue and experimenting in a genre that it’s very interesting, we share our experiences and try to do so in a positive manner. That is why we had such a great response from cyber users all over the world” points out Christian Augusto.