First, Lakota rapper Frank Waln announced the title of his upcoming album he’s been quietly working on via an Instagram post late last week. “The title of my first album is ‘Tokiya’, which is Lakota for ‘first/first creation’. It will tell the story of how I use music to heal myself.” Then, this past Saturday evening Waln wrapped up A Gathering: People, Wind and Water’s concert with a special lineup of new music from his upcoming freshman album.
A Gathering of People, Wind and Water, a Native art market and cultural celebration, is a free annual event in the heart of downtown Rapid City the third weekend of July at Main Street Square. The Gathering features an art market of both established and emerging Great Plains Native artists, and a full day of cultural performances on the stage at Main Street Square. On stage this year was Cary Morin, Dallas Chief Eagle, Wambli Ska Drum and Dance Society, The Cody Blackbird Band, Gyasi Ross, Scatter Their Own and Waln.
Waln’s performance was energetic, upbeat, and personal. Before Waln took the stage, he admitted he was nervous. Later he explained he always gets nervous before a show, no matter the size. “The nerves fade away once I get to the mic,” Waln later explains.
At the beginning of his set, he explained the songs he was about to perform were from his upcoming album Tokiya. Waln tells the crowd this would be the first time he was performing new music from Tokiya since he first debuted the name on his social media pages. One of the songs Waln performed was inspired by cultural and language revitalization, and included an interview with Albert White Hat, a Lakota language teacher and activist.
Waln also surprised his mother by bringing her onstage to perform “My Stone”, a song dedicated to her. Waln explained the song was to honor her and give thanks for all she’s done for him.
Waln mentioned to his young fans that he was featuring submitted artwork by the youth on his album’s cover. Throughout his performance, groups of children and young adults submitted hand-drawn artwork through his merchandise table. It was uplifting to see the amount of kids that attended the show; groups of young Native boys and girls huddled right below Waln, all sporting tshirts he had for sale at his merchandise table, which were designed by Samsoche Sampson.
Waln wasn’t able to disclose any additional details about Tokiya or any of the new tracks he performed on stage. Check back later for exclusive updates about Waln’s upcoming album later this month.