We inherently expect rappers to have street cred, and that those who don’t, make it up. But when you’re dealing with one of the yoga community’s favorite mindful hip hop artists, MC Yogi, it would be easy to assume that his deep knowledge of yogic tradition and archetypes means he’s been a student of yoga forever. In this brave Speakeasy from Whistler 2013, however, the man known as MC Yogi shares stories he’s never told publicly about his journey “from darkness to light, from confusion and illusion to the realization that love is the solution.”
From a turbulent childhood to divorce, upheaval, and the need to escape, which soon leads to experimentation with drugs, dropping out of school, running away, graffiti, stealing cars, and carrying a stolen gun in his backpack at the age of just 13.
Intertwined in this tale, though, are moments of recognition that there is another way: his obsession with rap and hip hop presents him with images of violence and misogyny, but also moments of freedom and transcendence. He cites the discovery of the following lyric by the Beastie Boys’ MCA to be a transformative experience in his understanding of music and expression:
“When others disrespect me or give me flak, I’ll stop and think before I react, I’ll nip it in the bud before it can worsen, seeing it as a chance to help the other person, I’ll recognize that they’re going through insecure stages and take it as an opportunity to exercise patience.”
And thus was the mind of a future mindful hip hop mogul set free.
The touching moments offered in this Speakeasy are shared humbly and gracefully, “It’s important for me to share these stories not to glorify or glamorize myself, but for the intention of it helping someone else who is still in that difficult place, just to know that there is a way to carve through the darkness and get to the other side if you stick with your practices.”
- Why hip hop became his doorway of escape,
- How he eventually escaped the cycle of bad choices and found himself on a yoga mat,
- The instrumental role his father played in igniting his passion for yoga,
- Why he considers Larry Schultz to be the reason yoga is as popular as it currently is in the Western world,
- What the Grateful Dead have to do with the spreading of yogic consciousness,
- Where the “lightbulb” moment happened when MC Yogi realized he could rap about the values and stories closest to his heart (hint: it involves a wedding and a brass monkey).
Ultimately, what MC Yogi wants to share “that I was looking for what I had the whole time — i just didn’t know how to look back inside, I just couldn’t look at that much pain. But yoga gave me the tools to break the the wall that I’d built up to protect myself, to pierce the armor and so I could taste that which is in me all the time, that which shines in me, in us, as us, which appears in all things, always, and is never absent from us, only the mind thinks it’s absent, and that’s the love that holds us together.”
Not your everyday rap chorus, yo.