What motivates UNDAKOVA to travel to Japan?
I am seeking to deepen my understanding of the spiritual essence of the Japanese people and culture. This will not require meeting with monks or making pilgrimages to popular religious temples. On the contrary, I intend to seek out the metaphysical gold of sacred Japan in the simple, everyday ritual and practices of the layman, healers, mystics, musicians and street artists. Hailing from the lower east side of New York City, broadly speaking the birthplace of Hip Hop, for many years I have lived art as life by simply sharing my skills as an “MC” (make change) and leading cyphers. Since my teen years, locals have known me as U.N.D.A.K.O.V.A. (Universe Naturally Delivers All Knowledge of Vitality Automatically), and I have graced stages with hip hop greats such as KRS ONE, George Clinton, LL CooL J, Black Sheep, Self Suffice and Akim Funk Buddha.

Coming of age in the 1980’s, I took part in the era which birthed what we know as “conscious” Hip Hop. Moving forward into the new millennium, my community has embraced a more globalized worldview and a body-mind-spirit approach to creativity that we now call “holistic” Hip Hop. When I say Hip Hop I am speaking of a living, breathing and evolving creative consciousness that is connected to a lifestyle and art form that boils down to five basic elements. What Afrikaa Bambaataa designated as Emceein, Deejayin, Breakin, Graffitti Art and “Knowledge of Self in Community,” in Holistic Hip Hop terms I further distill these elements down to sound, vocals, intention, movement and visuals. 

This clarification of my holistic hip hop ethos comes from many years of experiential wisdom gleaned from living in New York City’s “cultural melting pot.” For many years witnessing first hand the social and cultural toll the extremes of global-capitalism and the “American Dream” take on communities, particularly urban black families; after years of deep self-realization work I’ve necessarily incorporated yoga, Vipassana meditation, the Bagua map of Daoist cosmology and Zen Baoding balls among other ritual healing modalities into my artist path and constellation of sacred truths.  Part of my service as an artist involves remedying a world in which many have lost with their true nature and ability to govern themselves. This is what we are missing - as rapper KRS ONE put it - “KNOWLEDGE OF OURSELVES!” is key. Through my sacred arts practices and adaptations of eastern philosophies I have gained a level of self-mastery and self-awareness that is embedded into my identity and service as an artist. 

           Given that my creative practice is heavily influenced by Eastern tradition and philosophy, and that everywhere in Japan we find the culturally displaced signs, symbols and swagger of Black America, what motivates me to travel to Japan is an opportunity to share my multidisciplinary sacred arts with Japanese men and women who wish to unite, dialogue, create and collaborate. I believe it is through cross-cultural understanding and art as a shared endeavor that we can most profoundly engage socially and MC or “make change!”

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