A star has risen to bridge the gap between Native American culture and hip-hop. A “Brave Star,” to be exact.
His name is Arturo Hernandez, but most people know him as Artson.
While he was born and raised in the borderland, Artson lives in Los Angeles. But he has never forgotten the place where he first learned the arts of break dance and rapping – two elements of hip-hop he says connect directly with his mother’s Tarahumara roots.
Last year, Artson won his first Native American Music Award, or Nammy, for his song “Never Give Up.” This year, he’s once again nominated, this time in two categories, for the title track to his latest album, “Brave Star.”
The song is nominated for Best Rap/Hip-Hop recording and Best Music Video Recording (Narrative). Online voting is open to the public through Oct. 11 at nativeamericanmusicawards.com.
Artson is hoping his fellow El Pasoans can help him put some more hardware on his mantle when the awards take place on Oct. 11 in Niagra Falls, New York.
Here’s what Artson had to say about his first Nammy win, being nominated again, his music and upcoming projects.
Q: How did winning your first Nammy Award affect you personally and how did it affect your music career?
It let me know that there’s so much more for me to achieve and that anything is possible. It also gave me a deep feeling of accomplishment. When you put your life into something, it’s amazing to see it get recognized amongst your people. It made me really put all the final touches on this “Brave Star” album and not hold back on any part of it.
Q: What was behind the making of “Brave Star” and what’s your reaction to being nominated two years in a row?
“Brave Star” is the meaning of the whole album. It’s really about telling your story accepting your light, being brave enough to share that amongst your peers and community. It’s about getting everyone involved to do the same.
Being nominated two years in a row is crazy. I’m on a natural high. Just like last year, this whole thing is pushing me to be the best me in all aspects of my life. If I were to win again, it would be such a blessing.
Q: How does hip-hop relate to Native American culture?
We’re doing what our ancestors have always done in a new way. We’re listening and playing the drum, we’re dancing, touching the Earth, we’re painting on the walls and we’re singing our new medicine songs – telling our story. It’s taken some time for the elders to accept hip-hop, but when you see what it does for the kids and how it brings all generations and all colors of life together the way it does, you can’t deny it. It’s powerful and demands acceptance.
Q: How did El Paso shape you musically?
It’s like they say, the early years of your youth will live and influence you for the rest of your life. El Paso made me a believer in my dreams, and pushed me to reach and seek them out. I always knew that there was something bigger for me in the world. That’s why I always come back to share with the people and newer generations from here.
Q. What new projects or tours are you working on?
I’ve been working on a project with MC Redcloud produced by Bboy Wicket called “Brown Fist Emoji.” I just got off the Last Vans Warped Tour that took us across the country for 38 cities in 45 days. I’ll also be releasing a series of documentaries on the making of “Brave Star” and the Vans Warped Tour. I’m also prepping for two big tours coming in the new year that I can’t announce just yet, but I’m super excited for.