Above: Wake Self. Photograph by Noor-Un-Nisa Touchon.

On November 5, Wake Self (Andrew Martinez) died of injuries sustained in a car crash. We honor him and his memory by reposting this edited interview, which was originally published in May 2019. Rest in power.  

From Fort Wingate, near Gallup, Wake Self recently moved to Santa Fe after a decade-long stint in Albuquerque.  Making music from the moment he got out of bed until he closed his eyes at night, Wake Self became well-known and beloved for lyrics referencing liberation, justice, gender equity, and love. He performed regularly throughout New Mexico and all around the world and for two years running also gave his time and talents for the Children, Youth, and Families Department Juvenile Justice Services’ talent show, in Santa Fe.

I’ve always been into music. I think everybody is. We’re made out of music. We’re born on beat. My dad showed me hip-hop, reggae, blues, and soul music.

I started writing poetry first to be my journal and therapist. Then I started writing rap songs as a secret pleasure. I used to have this folder and I would write and hide it away.

The first time I performed at a venue was a dance studio in Gallup where they threw these breakdancing jams once a month. A friend asked me to rap.

A lot of people think you have to move somewhere big to do something bigger, but people make things happen here. Carrying your community and your culture is powerful.

If you talk to the people who started hip-hop in the Bronx, they’ll tell you that Latino people helped. We are some of the forefathers, and that needs to be part of the narrative. Our influence is super heavy.

Hip-hop is universal. It’s doing it with love and respect.