Equipto (Ilych Sato) is being widely recognized for his activism in SF, being one of several educators or artists leading a hunger strike (11 days!) at the 17th St. police station in the Mission. The first time I heard of him was because of one of the Bay's oldest hip hop groups, Bored Stiff. Known for a deep voice and a relaxed flow, Equipto has been rhyming for two decades, at least. Together with the group they started putting out albums in the late '90s with over 6 LPs to their credit, and probably 10 times that from individual members who are not just musicians, but community advocates or teachers. I remember seeing him perform back in the 2000s with Andre Nickatina, mobbin, smokin, and just riding. Although I don't own any of his records, I always heard him featured on a track here or there and respect his flow. If you've listened to the Smoke Signals podcast you know him and Shawn have a big respect for music and culture that goes into and beyond underground hip hop. I know he's not claiming to be an activist and some people might have their issues with him, but I gotta give credit where it's due for taking a stand and confronting some of the struggles people (especially Black and Brown), are going through in SF. This Japanese/Colombian American is affecting change by bringing attention to justice unserved.
This first portrait is part of a month long series I'll be doing dedicated to the Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Asian Diaspora within the US and beyond as a way to highlight people from the past and present that have broke barriers, set standards, inspired, or simply existed. I invite anyone to join me in celebrating them w/ art, photos, or words on your own platform. Big respect to those fighting for ethnic studies in our schools. There are so many stories that need to be told.
Did you catch the new one of H.E.R.?