By Brandon Ecoffey
For some time now hip hop has been the primary genre from which young people on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation have gained inspiration. Fashion, style, and some could even argue lifestyle for reservation youth has many correlations to that of the urban hip hop scene.
As far back as the mid-nineties the influence that urban culture and music has had on reservation youth was apparent; an example being the much heralded 1995 State A Champion Red Cloud Boys basketball team who was the first team in the region to sport knee length basketball shorts and black Nike socks.
These clothing items were a spinoff of hip hop style made popular by the University of Michigan’s “Fab Five” basketball team that included urban celebrities Juwan Howard and Jalen Rose. The socks and shorts were not only a fashion statement representative of urban culture but also the modus operandi of the hip hop lifestyle which is to challenge societal norms.
It wasn’t long thereafter that youth on the reservation were caught up wearing the baggy Dickies khaki pants that were worn by west coast hip hop artists like Dr. Dre and Snoop Dog. The continued presence of hip hop’s influence is apparent today with high school kids wearing the skinny jeans that artists like Lil Wayne have included in their attire.
What has been absent from the equation however is an organic reservation hip hop artist who can merge rural Nativeness with urban hip hop style, until now. Rage Rocc who was born Ray Janis the son of Doug Janis Jr. and Dawn Iron Cloud is an emerging rapper and music producer who possesses the necessary skills required to claim the unfilled throne of reservation hip hop royalty.
Currently Rage Rocc is putting the final touches on a mix tape called “Warrior Cubs” that will feature several up and coming artists on the reservation including K-Dog who was recently featured in Native Sun News, DC Baby, and D Money, all Oglala Lakotas attempting to break in to the rap game.