Maya Jupiter on women, culture, and what it means to be hip-hop

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Photo by Osher Gunsberg

Hey fierce listeners, welcome to MsRepresent: Behind the Face, a Fierce Woman. My name is Charlene Sayo, your host for the next half hour, and I'm very excited to kick off the very special Women in Hip Hop series. Over the next month, you'll be hearing conversations with Maya Jupiter, Asa Lianess, Kinnie Starr and of course, Ana Tijoux.

For the premiere episode of MsRepresent's Women in Hip Hop series, I have Maya Jupiter, a Mexican-born, Australian-raised, Los Angeles-based rapper, artist, and activist. I spoke with Maya while I was in LA during the epic Women on the Wave National Summit organized by AF3IRM, a transnational feminist organization, where Maya shared her definition of hip hop, the hypersexualization of women in music, her thoughts on mainstream hip-hop, Brazilian dancing and more. 

Bio

The Chicana From Down Under.

Born in La Paz, Mexico to a Mexican Father and Turkish Mother, Maya grew up in Sydney, Australia. It was in Sydney's western suburbs where she first fell in love with hip-hop. 

Maya's love of writing rhymes helped her express her fear, pain, joy and hope as a teenager and later on she realized the power music held in using it as a tool to make a positive difference in her community.

It is with this ideal that she co-founded Artivist Entertainment, an entertainment company committed to creating and supporting art and music that inspires positive social change alongside Quetzal Flores, Veronica Gonzales, Alberto Lopez and Aloe Blacc.

Maya has release two solo albums, the latest created with Quetzal Flores and Martha Gonzalez of Grammy Award winning, EastLos rock band Quetzal and her husband, singer/songwriter Aloe Blacc. The album is inspired by Son Jarocho and stays true to Maya's love of hip hop, dancehall and soul, made up almost entirely of live instrumentation, including Mexican harp, tarima and jarana. Her lyrics are powerful, vibrant, and uplifting.

Maya's first album Today debuted in 2003 on Mother Tongues, the first label dedicated solely to women in hip-hop. She later performed with Latin Jazz band Son Veneno, formed a group called Foreign Heights, presented and produced several hip-hop radio shows including the national "triple j's hip hop show" and her own "Black Beans, Brown Rice" Radio show on www.radiosombra.org and was a VJ for Channel [V] Australia.

Maya's Artivism began in her early 20s when she facilitated hip-hop workshops with at-risk youth in Sydneyhs south and west, teaching young people how to write, record and perform songs. In 2012 she was an official Ambassador for "The Line campaign," an Australian government anti-violence initiative. 

In Los Angeles she volunteered as a mentor with Peace Over Violence's Youth Over Violence Summer Institute, facilitating a song writing and recording internship around songs that discussed healthy relationships. in 2014 she became a spokesperson for their Denim Day Campaign bringing awareness to Sexual Violence and was recognised with the Voice Over Violence Humanitarian Award. 

She volunteers with Tiyya as a writing instructor for the Storytellers writing course dedicated to refugees and first and second generation immigrants of Los Angeles and she has co-facilitated a Youth Radio Internship at Radio Sombra, teaching high school students from Boyle Heights how to present and produce their own radio shows.

Currently Maya is writing new music produced by Quetzal Flores and Aloe Blacc. Her latest release "That Ain't Me" is a fierce rebuttal to popular media's image of beauty which is demonstrated in the video when she pulls out her extensions, rips of her false lashes and discards the push up bra among other things.

Look out for her new single Insha'Allah available soon.

mayajupiter.com

@mayajupiter

MsRepresent: Behind the Face, a Fierce Woman can also be found at charlenesayo.com

Intro/outro music:  "Rainbow" by Emilie Simon.  Remix from the original.

Additional music: "A tua choradeira é meio salário em lenços" by Stealing Orchestra & Rafael Dionísio.  Remix from the original.

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