Published on October 9th, 2020 | by Hype S
Xiuhtezcatl (pronounced shoe-tez-caht) reflects on the complex struggles of family separation in the United States in his powerful music video for bilingual record “El Cielo”.
Produced by an all-Latinx team at Industry PDX, the visual sees Xiuhtezcatl crossing a perceived border, a metaphorical line in the sand, as he delivers his verses. He reflects on the past, standing before an altar of ancestral artifacts and family heirlooms, as he envisions a brighter future. “The trauma run as deep as the love,” he declares. Xiuhtezcatl demands all of your attention in this music video.
“This project gave me a chance to recreate whole worlds that exist between my imagination and my memories. Everything from the visual direction, to the building of these super detailed sets added many layers to an already personal and complex song. As we move into the release of the full mixtape, I think this serves as a visual guide to set the stage for what’s coming.” – Xiuhtezcatl
Xiuhtezcatl crafts “El Cielo” as an intentional expansion of his artistic identity, reintroducing himself as much more than a conscious artist. The single leads the way into his forthcoming EP, Runway Tapes, due out October 16th.
The independent artist’s Indigenous roots to Mexico are anchored in the song’s message of love transcending human-built borders. Amidst the current political moment, which is plagued by headlines of human rights abuses and anti-immigrant sentiment, the song dives into the fear that many families with undocumented members know well. Forced separation. The melodic, lo-fi production sets the stage for the story— “Mi gente tryna get by / How we gon’ live right? / We didn’t come here for free / We’re still paying the price, paying the price”.
“‘El Cielo’ is an invitation to my music and culture as it weaves between the languages that I was raised on. Though I wrote this song reflecting the experiences of people I know, I think this moment is showing us that family separation and state violence impacts so many of our communities—whether it’s ICE agents raiding homes and caging children, state-run schools taking Indigenous youth from their homes to erase their culture, or police killing and locking up unarmed Black people. Time and time again, we resist these systems through love—it’s that love that holds us together in the face of so much fear,” explains Xiuhtezcatl.
“El Cielo” Cover Art
Pushing the envelope on what hip-hop can look and sound like, Xiuhtezcatl’s message and depth transcends his mere twenty years on the planet, yet is still packed with all the hard-hitting grit that appeals to today’s generation of listeners. His rhyme scheme is raw and quick-witted. Being bilingual and a skilled code-switcher, he incorporates Spanish and English interchangeably into his music, which has become the outlet for representing his generation, and his people.
Xiuhtezcatl has performed and collaborated with artists such as Jaden, Raury, Satellite Mode, and Willow, while building outside the boundaries of the music industry to use art to challenge systems of injustice and re-envision the future. As 1/3 of the emerging hip hop group Voice Runners, Xiuhtezcatl, LA-based artist Tru, and producer Jaiia Cerff launched into 2020 in full force dropping a series of singles that culminated with the self titled Voice Runners album in February.
‘Runway Tapes’ EP Cover Art
Xiuhtezcatl is a leader, activist and hip hop artist. Recently named TIMES Next 100, Xiuhtezcatl has felt called to change the narrative on what it means to be an activist from an early age. At 20 years old, X has spoken multiple times at the UN, addressing the General Assembly, served as a surrogate for the Bernie Sanders 2020 presidential campaign as well as spoken on panels and interviewed with the likes of Miley Cyrus, Shailene Woodley, and Pharrell Williams.
Xiuhtezcatl has been a guest on the Daily Show with Trevor Noah & Real Time with Bill Maher. He has also been featured multiple times in Rolling Stones and on PBS, Showtime, National Geographic, Rolling Stone, Upworthy, The Guardian, Vogue, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, CNN, MSNBC, HBO, VICE, as well as photographed by Annie Leibovitz.
Xiuhtezcatl has a unique talent for connecting people through popular culture and sharing the message of his indigenous roots to better serve the planet and reimagine the future for his generation.
Stream “El Cielo” —