Shining Soul: Phoenix Hip-Hop with a Purpose


We just got put on to the fresh stylings of Shining Soul, a Phoenix, Arizona-based hip-hop duo, composed of Franco/The Bronze Candidate, who makes beats and instrumentals with a distinct underground and jazzy flavor, and Alex Soto/MC Liaison, who spits politically subversive rhymes. The duo uses their music to inform audiences about border militarization, oppression of Indigenous Peoples, and capitalism.

Check out their recent interview with on hip-hop, cultural pride, and the politics of border militarization:

Carl Gibson: Where are you originally from? And how does that influence your music?

MC Liaison: First and foremost, I’m Tohono O’odham (pronounced tone-OH-tum) which translates to desert people, and is the second largest tribe next to the Navajo in the so-called U.S. Our land mass is as big as the state of Connecticut and shares 79 miles of so-called US/Mexico border. The line was drawn since 1848 with the Gadsden Purchase, so our nation and community has been divided in half. Our tribal lands go to Rocky Point, Hermecito, and spans as far north as Phoenix. Just like any indigenous tribe around the world, there are different bands. There’s desert people, but up here, the other O’odham, or people, are the river people. Any MC back in New York knows that Hip-Hop began with that cultural pride of people who were living in the ghetto, living in the hood, living on the rez. That’s one thing I communicate through my music. I share my culture and flavor down there, but I’m also rocking it in Phoenix with people up here.

CG: How long have you two been making music? Talk about how you began and the evolution of your sound.

Bronze Candidate: Alex and I have known each other for nine years. Shining Soul has been through many phases and mutations. We used to be a live band at one point; I was playing bass and guitar for the group. I’m still using those musical influences as music for the group, but I’m making the beat-driven, rhythm-driven music. It’s basically about cultural pride, and pride about where we come from. My mom and pops were into Earth Wind and Fire, Gap Band, El Chicano, really funky stuff. I supplemented it with Mariachi here and there, with some Salsa infused. And that’s all kind of what I gear myself and the audience for. With the beats coupled with the critical, crucial and sometimes urgent messages you sometimes need to put in the music, people are really feeling it. It’s a serious message, but it’s constructive, as well.

CG: This is Arizona, the home of SB 1070, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Jan Brewer. It seems like there’s a lot of stuff to inspire your lyrics in Arizona. Talk about how these current battles influence your music.

BC: It’s also the home of Si Se Puede, as we say. And the house of insurrection. It’s in our rhymes. It’s the front lines of this new white supremacy we’re seeing, and that’s what we call it, because that’s what it is. It comes from colonization and this domination of the social order, you see the disparities in the distribution of quote-unquote wealth.

CG: And you see it in high unemployment rates in indigenous communities compared to white communities, incarceration rates and all that.

BC: Right. It’s the allegiances that are there that are not talked about and kind of invisible. There’s destitute people across the board. Whatever you look like, whatever your pigment is. It’s that allegiance to what we call whiteness. Because that gives you privilege over people who are darker than you. And at the end of the day, I mean, you don’t want to be criminalized for being poor. You want to pass the buck to someone else. And look at who’s historically been marginalized and how violence has been projected upon certain groups of individuals. I’m a Chicano, I come from generations in the valley of what we call Phoenix. I’m pretty much a desert person as well. But three generations is not that long, people like my boy Alex, MC Liaison, he’s been here since time immemorial. So what does that look like when I’m trying to claim space here? So my music comes from me as a human being, as a Chicano, and as an MC and beat maker. So that brings it back to this imperialism we try to address in our music. We have these draconian laws like SB 1070, and the streamlining of “secure communities” laws which allow federal agents and local pig to collaborate.

MCL: In particular, it relates to SB 1070, but it also relates to border militarization. This has been happening before SB 1070 became law. SB 1070 just made us more of a police state. In the Tohono O’odham nation, my people have been stuck literally in the middle of this war that’s been happening. With the push of NAFTA in 1994, we had an influx of economic refugees migrate here from the so-called line to the South, and of course, the state cracked down. So Nogales, El Paso, the bigger cities, Tijuana -- all got locked down, because that’s a given to lock that spot. So what happens is they have to go through the hottest, most rural, and craziest areas, which happen to be where I’m from. The Border Patrol and now the Department of Homeland Security have militarized it because it’s a corridor for migration. So my people are like, “Yo, I’m from here, and now I’m going through a checkpoint?” I went through one today. And granted, we’re here today having this interview, but it’s like, why the fuck do I have to go through a checkpoint? Why do I have to go through easily 50 Border Patrol agents, have helicopters flying overhead? We’re still here, we have culture, our languages, our songs, our indigenous people are still here after all these centuries. Now we have the spook of border militarization. Keep in mind, the immigration reform bill in its current form quadruples this militarized border by putting a Berlin-like wall in my backyard. I’ve seen it going from a chicken wire fence when I was five or six years old, to a vehicle barrier, to a vehicle barrier with a road next to it, and cameras all along the road, people patrolling up and down, day and night, and that’s just 25 years of my life. What’s it gonna look like when I’m 50 or 60? So we’ve done direct actions and protests, but I feel music for me is like a torpedo, for people who don’t know about this shit.

Read more: Shining Soul: A Phoenix Hip-Hop Duo Raps on Border Militarization |


For more of Shining Soul's music check them out online: and

VIDEO: The Requiremento of 2012 - Native Youth Speak Out for Indigenous Peoples Day


In honor of Indigenous Peoples' Day 2012, these Dartmouth University students had a message to share to mark the "discovery of Christopher Columbus."

Savage Media, the collective behind the short video published on Oct 7th of this year, is comprised of a group of students attending Dartmouth University. Inspired by sketch comedy collective The 1491s during a visit earlier this year to their school, these students are currently running a fundraising campaign to get their vision realized.

As Colorlines noted, in this inspiring clip, "Native students from Dartmouth College respond to The Spanish Requirement of 1513—in which Spain declared that it was ordained by God to take possession of what is known today as the Americas—with their own 'Requiremento of 2012'.”

We love seeing our young people stand up and represent themselves on our own terms—and for reminding us to celebrate that we are, indeed, still here...and still "savage and alive"!

For more information on their campaign, check them out on Facebook: RealSavageMedia.

For now, we here at RPM hope that everyone on Turtle Island has had an enjoyable, energizing, and family-filled long weekend, and the opportunity to think about what this holiday represents.

Indigenous Peoples Day vs. Columbus Day


The ever-controversial Columbus Day is being celebrated this week in the United States but, in many communities across Turtle Island, the holiday is being reclaimed as Indigenous Peoples Day—a day of solidarity with Indigenous People.

RPM brings you some Native perspective on the history and context of this highly contested holiday.

Everyone knows the story of Christopher Columbus, a Spanish explorer looking for a passage to Asia for the trade of goods in the late 1400's. With his three ships, the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, Columbus set sail and 'discovered' America, where he found what he called "Indians", thinking he found India. The celebration of Thanksgiving and Columbus Day in America is now a widely spread and commercial holiday—intended to praise Columbus' "discovery" of the so-called "New World".

Indigenous nations across Turtle Island, however, have always disputed the holiday's oppressive nature, which seeks to valorize and praise the holocaust that began with Columbus' opening of the Americas to European colonization—and which has led to the dispossession of Indigenous lands, the annihilation of millions of Indigenous Peoples, and the destruction of native cultures and lifeways.

But the holiday is now being reclaimed—and transformed—into a celebration of Indigenous People's Day, where nations, groups and movements have formed across North and South America to change and officially declare October 12th as a national holiday and day of solidarity with Indigenous Peoples.

As North American Indigenous Student Organization (NAISO) co-chair, Ryan Patrick stated recently:

“To the larger American community, (Columbus Day) is a day off work or school for the man who discovered America,” Patrick said. “We see the celebration of a man who brought with him genocide, rape, slavery, and set the foundation for the mistreatment of people of color for generations.”

The History of Indigenous People's Day

The city of Berkeley, in the Bay Area of California, replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous People's Day in 1992. Since then, the event has become an annual affair that includes a Powwow and an Indian Fair. The idea to replace Columbus Day was conceived in 1977 when the United Nations passed a resolution at the International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas, held in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1990, 120 delegates from Indigenous nations around Turtle Island met at the First Continental Conference in Quito, Ecuador to discuss 500 years of Indigenous resistance to colonization.

A representative for the mayor of Berkeley also attended the conference to gather information on how to celebrate the Quicentenary, a celebration of Columbus' exploits with replica ships of his voyage and a jubilee celebration in the Bay Area, which was chosen by the U.S. Congress as the location for this celebration. This event was eventually cancelled.

After requests and submissions of information by the Berkeley "Resistance 500" Task Force to the city council of Berkeley, the council found the evidence of Columbus' discoveries not to be a scientific voyage, but an excursion of imperial colonization.

On October 12th, 1992, the council voted unanimously to declare that Columbus should no longer be celebrated and that the day should instead celebrate the survival and revitalization of Indigenous cultures, and commemorate Native resistance to the forces still threatening to destroy them.

Indigenous Peoples and the 'Occupy Together' Movement

In 2011, as public protests and demonstrations have swept across the continent following the Occupy Wall Street public protest movement begun in New York City in September, Indigenous Peoples have begun not only to reclaim Columbus Day as an Indigenous holiday, but also to reclaim Representation of Native Presence in the Occupy Wall Street Narrative.

The American Indian Movement of Colorado recently joined the Occupy Together Movement by issuing An Indigenous Platform Proposal for Occupy Denver that challenged the Occupy Together movement "to integrate into its philosophy, a set of values that respects the rights of indigenous peoples, and that recognizes the importance of employing indigenous visions and models in restoring environmental, social, cultural, economic and political health to our homeland".

The proposal articulates the need to bring a renewed commitment to justice for Indigenous Peoples as part of a broader movement for justice and equality in the United States:

“As indigenous peoples, we welcome the awakening of those who are relatively new to our homeland. We are thankful, and rejoice, for the emergence of a movement that is mindful of its place in the environment, that seeks economic and social justice, that strives for an end to oppression in all its forms, that demands an adequate standard of food, employment, shelter and health care for all, and that calls for envisioning a new, respectful and honorable society. We have been waiting for 519 years for such a movement, ever since that fateful day in October 1492 when a different worldview arrived -- one of greed, hierarchy, destruction and genocide.”

The AIM proposal was unanimously adopted by Occupy Denver on October 10, 2011.

For more on Indigenous People's Day and the ongoing controversy over Columbus Day, please check out the links below:

Indigenous Peoples Day The History of Berkeley's Indigenous Peoples Day [UC Berkeley] Indigenous People's Day  [wiki] Indigenous Groups at Occupy Wall Street Mark Columbus Day as Day of Mourning [DemocracyNow] Indigenous Peoples Day: Replacing Columbus Day [Indigenous Issues Today] Indigenous Peoples Day Set for Bascom [The Badger Herald] Indigenizing Occupy Wall Street [Tehran Times]

Columbus Day Controversy Columbus Day Protest Widens [Indian Country Today] Columbus Day Remains at Sea [Philadelphia Inquirer] Shame of Columbus Day [The Salt Lake Tribune] To Celebrate Or Not To Celebrate Columbus Day, That Is The Question [LAist] Columbus Day Vs. Indigenous Peoples’ Day: How About Happy Immigration Day? [Mediate] Two Different Celebrations Mark Columbus Day [Columbia Spectator]

Anti-Columbus Day/Week Anti-Columbus Day [Facebook Group] North American Indigenous Student Organization protests Columbus Day [The State News] Happy Indigenous People's Day! [MSNBC] Anti-Columbus Week Challenges 'Hero' [The Sophian] Abolish Columbus Day! [AIAN] Transform Columbus Day Alliance

This is a video from the "Reconsider Columbus Day" campaign:

Also here we have an excerpt from the documentary The Canary Effect, directed by the lead singer from the band The Bastard Fairies, Yellow Thunder Woman, that speaks to the issue of the true history of Columbus and his American exploits:

Anti-Columbus Day [Seattle, WA]

Does your community have an Anti-Columbus or Indigenous People's Day celebration? Let us know by commenting below.


Check out more fantastic photos by the talented Alyssa Macy (aka The Indigenous Flygirl) on Facebook: "Day of Solidarity With Indigenous People at Occupy Wall Street NY"