Earth Guardians Youth Director Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, (his first name pronounced ‘Shoe-Tez-Caht’) recently turned 18. He’s an indigenous climate activist, hip-hop artist, and powerful voice on the front lines of a global youth-led environmental movement. At the early age of six Xiuhtezcatl began speaking around the world, from the Rio+20 United Nations Summit in Rio de Janeiro, to addressing the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York city. He has worked locally to get pesticides out of parks, coal ash contained, and moratoriums on fracking in his state and is currently a lead plaintiff in a youth-led lawsuit against the federal government for their failure to protect the atmosphere for future generations.
Xiuhtezcatl has traveled across the nation and to many parts of the world educating his generation about the state of the planet they are inheriting and inspiring youth into action to protect the planet. Earth Guardian has grown to hundreds of crews in over 50 countries.
His work has been featured on PBS, Showtime, National Geographic, Rolling Stones, Upworthy, The Guardian, Vogue, Bill Maher, Skavlan, CNN, MSNBC, HBO, VICE, and more.
In 2013, Xiuhtezcatl received the 2013 United States Community Service Award from President Obama, and was the youngest of 24 national change-makers chosen to serve on the President’s youth council.
He is the 2015 recipient of the Peace First Prize, recipient of the 2015 Nickelodeon Halo Award, 2016 Captain Planet Award winner, recipient of 2016 Children’s Climate Prize in Sweden, and received the 2017 Univision Premio’s Ajente de Cambio Award.
Bill Mckibben of 350.org calls Xiuhtezcatl “an impressive spokesman for a viewpoint the world needs to hear.”
Martinez lives with his family in Boulder, Colorado. His mother, Tamara Roske, is the Executive Director of Earth Guardians, a worldwide organization of conservation-minded children and young adults. He has two younger siblings, a sister, Tonantzin, and a brother, Itzcuauhtli. His father, Siri Martinez, is of Aztec heritage and he has raised his children in the tradition of the Mexica, one of the indigenous Aztec peoples of Mexico.
On October 5th, Xiuhtezcatl came out with his debut album Break Free & it is a bop! Previously he blessed us with some music on his EP Broken and then dropped a few more tracks on Break Free. Xiuhtezcatl to me is what I wish I could have been at his age. I feel I had the mind-set but didn’t fully act upon it then. He has been putting in work for the climate since he was 5 years old as apart of Earth Guardians. He is indigenous and he honors that to the fullest and I love it. He is a great voice for his generation and really holds the youth voice high which is very important in these crazy times. His music is really talking to the youth but also talking to adults who can’t get with the program and just do their part to help make the youth’s future better. He talks about mental health and the pressures of the youth growing up today on one track. He also talks about his indigenous culture & how he grew up. And of course he talks about the revolution a lot which I am all about. Anyway let’s get into this album review and get my thoughts on this beautiful music.
“Tiahuliz / Light”
This is the opener of the album and it starts off with a some violin from Richard Vagner and some shakers. He starts off by speaking in Spanish before going into English. He talks about his dad giving him that indigenous wisdom to keep fighting and that this music will help to save the youth for generations and to honor those who came before and will come after him and help to light a spark in all us and his legacy.
“Sage Up” Feat. Stic, Cavem, Matene Strikesfirst
One of my favorite tracks on the album. It starts off with a Lakota elder singing with a drum beat and rattles behind it then it goes into the rapping. He talks about different indigenous ways of clearing energy and different indigenous cultures. My favorite part is the chorus when they say “Sage Up…I can hear it in the wind this music is medicine” Then Xiuhtezxatl comes in and he starts to talk about indigenous resistance like Standing Rock and says “pray for the youth”. Then Stic from Dead Prez talks about freeing the slaves and resistance and whither & it is the beginning of the end or a new beginning. Xiuhtezxatl then talks about Standing Rock and freeing Red Fawn and then talks about the killings of unarmed black youth at the hands of the police and makes that connection to both of them. It ends on a great drum beat.
“Magic” Feat. Tru
Song starts off with Xiuhtezcatl sister Isa who sings on many songs on this project singing the chorus “Magic and song and the sound of a drum to the sea to the sky to the land” “Feel the sun on my skin and I’m one with the wind elements in the palm of my hand” This is a song about who we have lost the magic when us because we are too focused on money, technology and getting ahead. We are not as connected with our cultures, our spirituality or our connection to Mother Earth. We are off-balance he talks about in one verse and how we are watching as our world die. He also talks about how the youth have lost their magic to things like pills, insecurities and lyrics. But he says he trying to change that through this music and help to shift the culture. Then Tru comes in and says one of my favorite lyrics of this song “Land that I walk on apart of me…masters had once rid my ancestors harts away” which is so true and we are still out here trying to fix those wounds but if we find that magic again it can save us. “Got to hold to my magic that’s what made me” One of my favorites. Isa really helps to bring this song together. The song ends with Xiuhtezcatl giving one last message to the people about how we might thing as a people we are evolving and progressing but in reality our spirits are dying and the so are the people and the planet. “nothing digital will ever match your heart beat”
“One Day” Feat. Isa
The first song he dropped last year was called One Day. When it first dropped I was obsessed over it and would play it on repeat all the time. I loved his rapping style and just the lyrics of the song. He basically talks about one day making it and his come up and all the people who supported him from day one. I also really love the chorus to which goes: “One day don’t justify we must live this life forever is all we’ve got, One day don’t translate we must meditate this moment is all we’ve got”
This has to be one of if not my favorite song on the album. It is a banger! The beat goes, the lyrics are great and relatable and I just love this song! It starts with an upbeat violin and a shaker in the background. Then Xiuhtezxatl starts spittin. He talks about our oppression as people with money. Isa does the chorus again which rocks “dance to the rhythem of the movement will be in the streets singing bout the revolution” and then Xiuhtezxatl talks about showing up to the protest lookin cut throught. “Keep the hope alive we keep the people mobilized and never let this fire die.” It goes into a break down before Isa really shines on the track. Then Xiuhtezxatl comes back with a some fire lines about working for a dollar but never leaving your country or in some cases city. You work without finding your purpose just trying to get by without making a difference in this world. Such a bop!
“Young” Feat. Nahko, Shailene Woodley
This song is an ode to the youth. It has a violin in the background mixed with some shakers & a drumbeat. Nahko Bear does the chorus of the song which talks about the big bright lights of LA or any city tantalizing you to be apart of that life style. Nahko spits a sick verse on the song about drugs and the addition we have to our phones. He talks about the little boy inside of him being scared but he is a survivor. He talks about his owen coming of age journey that he had when he turned 18 and left home. You can take that journey with Nahko on his 2017 solo album My Name is Bear where he takes you through that journey into the woods and his experiment with drugs. He also talks about the loss of the feminine energy which can be hard for Mother Earth and the Goddess and takes responsibility for the part he plays in the larger picture of the patriot and unbalance between the masculine and feminine. He even talks porn being a way of distorting our perception of women and it being a sickness but to remember he was just a child and to forgive him as he reconciles. Xiuhtezcatl then comes in and talks about the pressure as youth to fit into a box & perfect in a society that is imperfect. He says we don’t celebrate laugher, having a purpose or pursuing your passion. He goes into test scores meaning more than having a purpose, having the weight of the world on your shoulders, not getting sober, those who never felt love and trying to grow up. He talks about the kids who cut themselves and are depressed and how painful it can be for some youth to even live, and how western medicine tries to over medicate the kids. He leaves us with we gotta live or life not take our lives. Then Shailene Woodley comes in with her poem she wrote about humanity. Such an important track!
This one is a more somber tune to start off with. It starts with the piano and violin. It is about wanting to be a star in the sky. Isa definitely brings it in the singing. This song is about trying to find your way and find you are.
Another bop! It starts off with the sentiment that time is an elution. “We fuckin with the government and takin them to court, theres lies in the stories that the media reports” which is a node to the 21 youth planets who are suing our government over the lack of a plan for the climate for the future generations. “Fight for the cause, die for the dream” He also talks about being more than what we see on our facebook feed. “This life I’m livin ain’t got no limits” He talks about how we grew up on section-8 with second-hand skate shoes and how the youth are watching people go to all these amazing places on instagram but they’re still stuck at home instead of out livin the dream. Another line is we are glorifying the villeins and hating on the heroes. This song has a great piano beat, violin and beat machine. The chorus reminds us that time is an elution and it only keeps going faster due to our lack of enjoyment of every moment.
The second song he dropped was Blue Ink which is a more atmospheric song about living up to everyone’s expectations. From the time Xiuhtzcatl was little people have been looked up to him as the next great savior of the planet. That can be a lot of pressure to put on a little kid and he talks about a lot of that in this song. At the end of the day he is still a kid living life he just took it upon himself to care about our planet since our adults don’t.
This is another timely song about how we are all broken. It goes into a lot of issues we are dealing with like climate change, colonization, police killings, depression of the youth and so much more. He talks about how time is running out but there is still time for us to act on these issues and fix them. He has a line about how people today are not doing their part to fix these issues and how will they be able to tell their kids or the future generation one day that they did nothing to fix the problems we are facing today. The change has to change inside of us and how the change will come from the youth. Xiuhtezcatl also talks about how he makes his music to uplift the people and make them dance. He says he is broken but so is the world but we can fix that.
Break Free is the answer to Broken on how we can help to fix these problems we are dealing with everyday. He talks about his little brother losing hope but that he is still hopeful and to let him know his silence was important. Xiuhtezcatl’s little brother did a campaign where he was silent for a period of time to get people to start caring more about our climate. He says that you don’t have to have a microphone to make a difference but that we should all make a difference. He then talks about all the youth who are “breaking free” and will go down in history like the Parkland kids and others. He says he is working together with his ancestors. He talks about rappers not being the only ones who chase paper and that politions do the same thing and how our president’s whole campaign is based in hate. Xiutezcatl then talks about all the amazing things people are doing to resist. “The power of the people more powerful than the people in power I believe this can be our finest hour” It ends with Xiuhtezcatl taking one last breath out.
Over All Thoughts:
I love this album! Xiuhtezcatl really put his heart and soul into this album. He is giving out small gems in this album about the revolution, the power of the youth and how we as a society can help to fix the problems we are going through today. He really wants to make people dance and enjoy the music while having a message to his music and I defiantly think he accomplishes this. Plus with such low frequency music and energy on this planet right now this music is so important to help raise our vibrations which is a big way for us to help fix the problems on the planet. He mixes that hip-hop with that indigenous wisdom and the voice of the youth. Honestly he someone I look up to being 18 and just bringing the realness. Also the fact that so many different people older then him support him and are taking him on tour with them like Nahko & Medicine for the People and SOJA. He is an important figure in these times we live in and is really inspiring other youth to do this work along with him. So remember to sage up, keep the hope alive and go into the streets & sing about the revolution! Grade: A+
Climate Docs to Watch: