Denver based hip hop group Debajo del Agua is being recognized for their work in promoting awareness of social justice and human rights issues worldwide.

I LOVE WHEN artists that bring something real and original actually get recognized. This seems to be what’s happening, luckily with Debajo del Agua.

I started listening to Debajo in 2007, catching one of their early shows in a University of Colorado Biology building.

It was among the strangest and best shows I’ve ever been to, not just for the venue but the format, which was a combination of music workshop (demonstrating various wind, string, and percussion elements of Andean music and Afro-Latino percussion) followed by an ass-kicking performance that mixed Caribbean / African rhythms with Latin melodies and laced it all up with rapid-fire hip hop vocals in Portuguese, Spanish,and English from emcees (all brothers), Pablo, Dani, and Elias Cornejo.I don’t think a biology building has ever been rocked so hard.

What I love most about Debajo is how it’s a totally family affair. The patriarch of the band, José Cornejo ( a native of Santiago, Chile), went into exile during the Pinochet regime, eventually settling in Denver and raising his sons, as he says, “listening to songs and instruments of America south of the Rio Grande. . .mixed with the music of Víctor Jara, Violeta Parra, Mercedes Sosa, Atahualpa Yupanqui.”

Now the whole family + friends (most of whom grew up in the same neighborhood in Denver, playing on the soccer team José coached) continue the tradition of songwriting with social justice and human rights as the central message and hip hop culture as the way to deliver it.

I wrote a piece on Debajo del Agua back in 2007, and have kept up more or less ever since. I was stoked to see this week they are being awarded the 2009 Global Justice & Peace Award from the Denver Justice & Peace Committee. If you’re around the area on Dec. 5th, I definitely recommend being there.

Debajo del Agua will perform a full evening of music, plus ndividual band members will speak on issues relating to music and social justice. The ceremony begins at 7:30pm and the concert starts at 10pm.

The event will take place at the Mercury Cafe on Saturday, Dec. 5th. Bigup.

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