After 2 years without releasing a joint video, the activist/rapper duo Rebel Diaz is back with new music. The group formed by Chilean brothers RodStarz and G1, have been working in their upcoming album América -vs- Amerikkka, and just released two singles back to back from the album, “FVCK ICE” and “Y Va Caer.” In the latter, featuring the acclaimed Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux, they send a message of hope for marginalized black and brown communities.
With lyrics that were inspired by Latin American chants during eras of dictatorships, in “Y Va Caer” which translates to “It will fall”, the duo has a clear message for listeners. The song is a collaboration between Chilean musicians, and others from the Bronx – where Rebel Diaz are based – and Latin America. They worked with Bronx-based DJ Charlie Hustle, Chilean bassist Ra Diaz, drummer MJ Lamberg, Garifuna musician Rolando “Chi chi” Sosa, and ad-libs from Bronx-based Dominican artist King Capo to create a unique sound for the rap song.
“We were playing some of the ideas for Ana and she was open to one particular one that had an ill break and some ill flutes and we built it from there,” G1 told Latino Rebels.
Latino Rebels caught up with Rebel Diaz in a phone interview, where they talked about the inspiration behind the single. Read it here:
Can you tell me about this single and what was the inspiration behind it?
G1: That song is with Ana Tijoux, that’s our sister. It’s been long in the making, we recorded different parts of it in different parts of the world. We added different instruments from different parts of the world. And it finally came together. You know “Y Va Caer” is a remix to old school protests chants throughout Latin America calling for the toppling of various dictatorships that had been set up with the support of United States’ foreign policy. They used to sing “y va caer” in the streets to tell them they will fall. You look at it now in the context of Trump, in the context of these systems of oppression that continue to be manifested through kids getting separated in the border, attacks on the black community. And so when we say “y va caer” the spirit of that is definitely channeling the protest feeling from the 70s in Latin America, but also connecting to a struggle that is worldwide. It’s a struggle against white supremacy, a struggle against capitalism. Decimos que “y va caer”, todo eso va a caer.
It’s been two years since you put out something out as Rebel Diaz, at least in terms of a video on Youtube. Can you tell me about what was happening in those years?
Rod Starz: We’ve always done more than just music. From 2003 we had the Rebel Diaz Art Collective space in the Bronx which is an abandoned factory, that we turned into a community improvisation center. And from that work, we were always in the space connecting culture, politics, and media. Also from 2014 to 2017 we were working with media. We had our own show which is called “Ñ Don’t Stop”. This is a show Telesur Spanish transmitted. So we literally were given an opportunity to do what we love which is hip-hop, politics, and culture and put it into a TV show. When that ended, we also became parents, my son is 3 years old, my brother has a 1-year-old daughter.
But amidst that, we’ve been recording everywhere we’ve gone. We were focusing on building, on the media show, and family.
Can you tell me about the images you chose for the video for “FVCK ICE“?
G1: The imagery that we use was to make it clear that it wasn’t just you know dealing with I.C.E. Before Bush, we had the I.N.S (Immigration and Naturalization Service). Throughout the world you see it happening, you see the level of white nationalism that’s emerging throughout Europe, here in the U.S., as the people from the global south are going north in search of resources that have been taken from the global south. We wanted to take it beyond just “Fuck Trump” and “Fuck I.C.E.”, but also showing there’s a history to this.
The very reason we’re here is because our parents were displaced and were political refugees from a dictatorship that was supported by the U.S. So when we talk about immigration we want to make it clear that with these families that are coming over here, this is a situation where people are fleeing conditions back home that have been created by U.S. interference.
The sentiment of the song “Y Va Caer” seems to be about resistance, and it’s also hopeful because you’re saying this system is going to fall. What would you say to those who are not feeling that, those who are not feeling hopeful especially with everything that is happening?
Rod Starz: I think not feeling hopeful is a natural response to when you’re living the fight of oppression in today’s world. Our music is meant to uplift and give new ideas. Who knows? There may not be a victory, but we definitely have to plant the ideas that are going to win. The system has a lot of violence, we have to be clear that we have culture, we have ideas, and we can make music. We got flavor and that’s what they’ll never have. We have trust, we have unity, and we have community and that’s a winning equation, it’s just a matter of time.
G1: And we got no option, especially here in the U.S., at the end of the day we live a level of relative comfort in comparison to the rest of the world, and so we have to also examine ourselves and ask “Are we being comfortable in our complacency, or comfortable in our cynicism?” which occurs because like Rod said, the attacks on our community continue to be more and more relentless. But I think like Rod said, we need to find the power that we have, the traditional, historical, and cultural history of resistance, and of using culture as a weapon. Of using the traditions that our ancestors use and seeing how they could feed our spirit today in order to continue that struggle.