“I’m a fish in the ocean of existence. Kanaloa makes the wave and I offer no resistance.” –Dåkot-ta
I was first introduced to the ever-dope musical artist Dåkot-ta when I was featuring the poetry of the amazing and American Book Award-winning UHMānoa Professor and poet-extraordinaire Craig Santos Perez back on December 11, 2014. Craig’s poem, “Chanting the Waters” responded to my open call for materials titled “Water Is Life, for the Love of Water” for my show, “It’s Lit,” which features writers to love and the music their works play best around. Craig’s poem was written in support of water protectors worldwide.
Craig selected a few songs to be played around his poem, including Dåkot-ta’s “All Life Is Sacred,” a catchy one set against Bobby Caldwell’s 1978 “What You Won’t Do for Love” (made famous to hip-hop heads with Tupac’s “Do for Love”), which is in support of the #OurIslandsAreSacred campaign. The song talks about what it means to be genocide survivors and be alive inside legends, to be open to the way of the ancients while dressing androgynous (“I ain’t mad they don’t know what a lava-lava is”). To be sure, Dåkot-ta’s flow has listeners bobbing their heads to the beat and the dope lyrics.
On the 11th of this month, Dåkot-ta launches their first full-length album titled, Na’Lå’La’ (which means “give life”). As the promo materials state, the album features Fino’ håya chants that “converge with global hip hop sounds,” forging “a prayer for harmony and balance with the natural world.” This “epic sound journey” documents “the reflections of a travelling Indigenous artist.” Dåkot-ta was born in Coast Salish Territory (in the Pacific North-West of the United States) to a Matao father and Filipina mother. Their sound emerged from the underground hip-hop and youth poetry scene of Seattle.
Dåkot-ta credits being “nurtured by a community of activist artists as a part of Bayan-USA, Hidmo, the Katalyst Project, the Northwest Network, Seattle Capoeira Center, Voices Rising, Youth Speaks Seattle, and the spiritual families of Tlaloktekutli, First Rain, & the Indigenous Mind, through Moana-a-kiwa to Guåhan,” where Dåkot-ta learned and grew the confidence to speak their contemporary and Indigenous languages. Dåkot-ta raps in these languages too—rhyming with so much power against decades of relentless colonial erasure and genocide.
Dåkot-ta’s music is one that invites us to be together, to dance together, to remember that we all are still here together. The album is definitely worth more than just a listen. While Dåkot-ta’s music lures us with catchy beats, the lyrics serve up words and feelings of connection to feed us during these uncertain times.