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.