“One of the reasons why I love reggae and hip hop so much is because if you really look into the root system of these types of music, you can discover that there’s a whole culture there, that’s more than just the music.”
After a weekend full of incredible yoga classes, and personal questions that begged for deeper answers, it was super refreshing to sit down and have the conversation I did with Nick and Amanda, and seeing him in concert the night before was the perfect prequel.
I had heard of him before, and of course Give Love is on my playlist, but I had not yet had the chance to see him live, and what an experience that was. It was absolutely impossible to keep still during the entire set.
His deep hip hop roots shine through perfectly on stage. You can literally see the stylings of his musical influences—Bob Marley, the Beastie Boys, Run DMC—flowing through him, both in the way he moves and in his smooth transitional lyrics. Yet he is totally unique—the embodiment of humble grace.
Speaking of lyrics, his presentation of mythic Hindu narratives and divinations is as catchy as it is genius. Imagine a world where people are streaming this music out of their car speakers, and quoting lyrics like “take a deep breath increase the vibration, exhalation exaltation, shine a bright light into creation.” Instead of bitches and guns, it’s Give Love and Sun Light. Thinking about the power something like that would have over humanity gives me goosebumps. We’re looking for change, well this is it.
I don’t mean that in a preachy sort of way either, and neither does MC Yogi. It was far from something you would see on a bad infomercial at three in the morning. The affirmations were simply matter-of-fact that’s-just-the-way-it-is truth.
And the beats? Robin Livingston spins some master tracks. It was like House of Pain meets Cypress Hill meets Chaka Demus & Pliers (ya, that old school reggae) meets the Beastie Boys meets Zion Train meets Ravi Shankar. The bass permeated the room with what seemed like it’s own principle, physically moving your body to the refrain. Dancing at that concert, along with the crazy enthusiastic crowd, filled me with so much happiness—it was definitely bliss.
What’s even cooler is the visual aspect of the show. The album, entitled Pilgrimage, was made on their pilgrimage to India. So not only is the sound a perfect fusion of an incredible amount of musical genres, but it tells an intense story of the trip. While once can certainly speculate and conjure images in their mind through the melodies alone, the group takes it a step further, sharing images of their journey on a giant screen behind them, with Amanda at the helm.
And yet, through all of this, not once did I loose sight of the meaning behind the passionately delivered, truth driven lyrics. Needless to say the album has been on repeat since I obtained it, and even my son is attempting to sing both the lyrics in Sanskrit, as well as thoroughly rocking his version of “God bless that monkey he made my day.” Yogi even references Hanuman’s brass monkey status.
“We want to make sure that we’re not skimming the surface. As yoga evolves in America it’s really our responsibility to dig down and discover where it comes from, how it relates to us, and how we can really move it forward so that it can benefit humanity so that our species can exist for another hundred thousand years.”
You can imagine how thrilled, and grateful, I was to be able to snag a few minutes to talk to Nick and Amanda. They are total rockstars, and completely humble, stopping to say hi to everyone and genuinely involved in our conversation.
It was so nice to have a discussion centered on authenticity and roots. Their views on yoga as an industry are super centered. Seeing their dedication to yoga’s path in America, and their contribution to making sure it stays something that will be of benefit to the surrounding world renewed my faith in many things.
Pointing out that it’s important not to condemn commercialization, as it is vital to growth really got me questioning my views on the materialistic evolution of yoga.
“It’s really important that we don’t demonize commercialization. We need to strive to be successful in a way that we remain connected to the root so that we encompass both sides.”
The serendipitous way in which they found each other was amazing to hear as well. I have never met two people who are more aware of how lucky they are to have found each other and they infuse that awareness into every aspect of themselves.
Listen to the Where Is My Guru interview here:
Definitely pick up the album, it’s one of those rare finds you can listen to from start to finish, or on shuffle and be totally happy with every song that comes through your speakers—you won’t be disappointed, and check out a thorough review of Pilgrimage here.
Check out this video too. MC Yogi does an incredible job speaking and performing at the Yoga Votes rally. The crowd is vibrant, the performance is stellar, it was the perfect combination of elements—and the message? Standing in that crowd raised goosebumps on my arms. They have found a solid fan in me for sure.