Interview: MC Indigo

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For hip-hop you don’t have to worry about your teenage daughter or son enjoying (a tall order these days, what with women and girls constantly being mistaken for female dogs and gardening implements), you can’t go wrong with Indigo. Not only does she clearly respect herself as being more than eye candy or some sort of sexual receptacle, Indigo is a fiery believer in bringing about political and social change.

For instance, her cut “World Wide Strike” is a page right out of the Lysistrata book for pulling men’s coats—face it, as long as men have been running things, things have been run straight into the ground. Advocating that “Mothers, daughters, sisters, aunties, nieces, cuzins, grandmothers—UNITE!”, she states, “the wind will start changing if the women stop banging/ I’m calling out a world wide strike/ no one give up the pooni tonight/ you’ll get no more/ till you stop…waging war!” You have to admit, where common sense has miserably failed all the years, one could do much worse than to try a cause-and-effect solution.

Indigo’s album is Kiri*Ke and she next rocks the house at the benefit Hip-Hop for the Homeless at the Triple Rock Social Club on the West Bank in Minneapolis on February 16.

You have me in complete culture shock. You’re seriously steeped in Native American culture, but you are of Eastern European descent and, when I speak to you on the phone, sound Puerto
Rican. What is going on?

I believe the accent you hear is East Coast. My fam is Sicilian. A lot of that comes through in my attitude and language, although I am nearly fluent in Spanish and was adopted by a Mexican family. So, my people are Bohemian—from the mountains—and Sicilian—island people. When I was a teenager my dad told me we were Native American, but there isn’t proof of that lineage that I can find. People always think I am Native and the only place people ever looked like me was up at the Red Lake Ojibwe Tribe. My sweet li’l grandma is Irish and German—she has beautiful green eyes. So I guess I’m a mutt. That’s how I always referred to myself. My mom made jokes that I was switched at birth growing up, ‘cause I seemed more Mexican that anything else and I always kicked it with the Mexican kids.

Your lyrics are not only thoughtful, but sharply inventive. Clearly you took hip-hop on as an art form, not an attention-getting device.
Though she only went to high school, [my mother] aced English class and corrected us when we misspoke. I always wrote. Journals, poetry, prayers, songs, all that. I guess, even as a kid, I felt like I wanted to leave a legacy. I am not one of those who rap about how much better of a rapper I am than you or how I support the consumerist agenda. Hip hop has given me meaning and community in a cultural context that was constructed to edify the lives of the participants.

What originally struck you to decide hip-hop was the way for you to go?
I had initially started falling in love with the underground movement in high school, hanging out with my boys that eventually formed the group Outside, plus a few other cats like DJ Innovation. We would freestyle and mess with the 12’s—turntables. Some people would break. We just threw parties—it was live! It became more of a reality, or a desire to succeed and make my mark in it, when I started kickin’ it with my boys from Oddjobs in St. Paul and the Interlock Crew in Minneapolis. I took trips down to Scribble Jam with the Rhymesayers crew, the Battle Cats, and some other homeys. We were at all the dopest underground shows and it was all on the level.

Where is your poetry published?
In Industry Minne-Zine—which has sadly been discontinued. I also write for The Liberator on occasion. You can find some of my work at my MySpace site.

When will you do a book?
I’ve been filling books since I was eleven. I do want to publish a book of poetry/songs. Right now, though, I’m focusing on learning production, and I have 2 EPs coming out this year.

I have yet to make it to the Twin Cities’ annual B-Girl Be Summit. Have you performed there?
I did perform all three years at the B-Girl Summit. I am completely proud of our community of women and the ability of the coordinators to bring people in from all over the world. I have met a ton of amazing women that love hip-hop and feel the need to express themselves through it like I do. I love when we can drop all the insecurities and fears and just celebrate together as women. B-Girl Be is where it’s at. Plus, Minneapolis is the only place in the world where a female-based summit like this exists.

What’s next for you after the Triple Rock Benefit?
I am working on booking a Midwest tour for the spring. Being a musician involves so much more than just writing and performing. I have come to wear so many hats and I’m learning new skills everyday, like promotions and booking and management and accounting and advertising. Plus I have been working on developing my own label.

Who organized the benefit?
Jon Jon of Black Corners. He is booking all of the tightest shows in the Twin Cities right now.

Who else is on the bill?
Dessa with Hieruspecs. Muja Messiah, Chosen Few, Maria Isa, Big Quarters, Sha Cage.

Sounds deep.
Oh, it will be.

Dwight Hobbes is a writer based in the Twin Cities. He contributes regularly to the TC Daily Planet.

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