Rapping Activist at 16
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At only sixteen years old, rapper and climate activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez has already accomplished more than what many would in a lifetime. Billboard describes him as an “indigenous environmentalist, activist and hip-hop artist.”
Currently the Youth Director of Earth Guardians, an organization founded by his mother, he began speaking out against climate change when he was merely six years old. He’s spoken all across the globe, including the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York and the United Nations in Rio de Janeiro.
According to Billboard, his father “is indigenous to Mexico, so a lot of traditional teachings and ceremonies were passed on to me at a very young age,” he said. “I was learning about my own culture as a deeper way to connect with the Earth.” Counting Taboo from the Black Eyed Peas and Chance the Rapper as friends, Martinez intersects artistry with activism, performing in protest at Standing Rock and rapping about environmental issues.
Passionate and driven with his cause, Martinez is currently fighting the Federal Government in a lawsuit due to the government’s failure to protect our planet for future generations- and what makes this lawsuit so impressive is that it’s completely youth-led.
Two years ago, he gave a TedX Youth presentation at the University of Colorado, Boulder, sharing his story and inspiring others to take part in environmental activism.
He tells the story of how his journey began as a six year old, how he felt as though he was so connected to the earth that he was a part of it, and through this talk he encouraged others to take a stand for the environment. He proves that small actions truly do make a difference, and one person can make a change — but not without the aid of others.
Martinez’s many achievements include the following: he received the United States Community Service Award from President Obama in 2013, the Peace First Prize in 2015, the Children’s Climate Prize in Sweden in 2016, and was featured on PBS, National Geographic, Rolling Stones, and many more.
Martinez writes his music to “battle oppression and bring people together.” His debut album, “Lifelines,” was released in 2014, followed by “Generation RYSE” in 2015 with Earth Guardians.
His latest album is a collaboration with his sister Isa, and will be released this spring. His music aims to inspire change and the pursuit of passion, as it focuses on global and social environmental issues, being an outlet for his own passions.