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We catch up with the Dakota South Records’ newly signed hip-hop artist Wanbli Ceya (aka juQ) about his start in making music, the inspiration behind his latest album and how he keeps his pursuit of music and heritage close.

What’s your tribal affiliation? Where are you from?

I am Oglala Lakota. I am from the Pine Ridge Reservation.

How did you get involved in making music/hip hop?

At the tender age of 13, while I was going through a lot of personal things music became something for me. At 16 years old, was when I became really confident with my ability in music. Heck, some of my writing of that time period even made it to music I released recently to B.’s Nammy-winning single “Come And Get Your Love”. Ever since I made the official move back to my reservation and the Black Hills, music has become an integral piece to the point it’s one of my part-time jobs. I hope soon to become my main full time one.

Tell us about your latest single/album you just dropped. What’s the inspiration behind it?

I released my debut ep. “ogp.” back in March and my debut album “tempo” this past November on Black Friday. Essentially everything I do as a singer/songwriter is geared towards providing a soundtrack to my Lakota people, ultimately putting Wakan Tanka, Great Mystery, and our traditional ways on a pedestal. Having a Lakota woman, native spouse on a pedestal. Speaking our language, being alcohol, drug, cig, etc. free on a pedestal. With the intention of getting my people, along with all tribes around the world as well as the rest of humanity, back to who we really are. That’s the centerpiece of the story I wrote on my debut album “tempo” entitled “the Oglala wolf puppy w/ PTSD” which reflects my personal journey on the Red Road & where I feel I am being guided spiritually by my ancestors.

What’s your favorite song on your new album and why?

My favorite song honestly would be “tp”. it consists of a prayer song on the hand drum I put in Lakota that came to me during inipi (sweat ceremony) as well as an outro portrayed by the main character, that contains a very important message for my people, and indigenous tribes all over the world.

How do you pursue music and keep close to your heritage at the same time?

My ultimate dream as a Lakota man (which this music thing is driven for) is to start a tipi based living community. Where we all live in tipis, speak only Lakota, revitalize many aspects of our culture that are either exploited in an unhealthy manner or are on the verge of extinction and this would be on my reservation. I go to inipi pretty much every week. I Sun Dance as well. Our ways are my world, my people are my world. Regardless of how big this music thing gets, my world comes first. And that’s it.

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