Art 511 is pleased to host the exclusive premier of Where Tha Earth Dawgs At? by ULTRACULTURAL OTHERS, a new Urban Mystery Skool on Manhattan’s lower east side creative-directed by UNDAKOVA & High Prieztezz Or Nah. The video is a collaboration with Kelly Shaw Willman, a performance artist, priestess and alien-bruja currently based in Costa Rica where she makes work about reclaiming the divine feminine, healing and magical self-expression. Set to instrumentals from Drake’s “God’s Plan” and “Too Much” (unlikely Futures Rework), the collective set out to celebrate the Lunar New Year, sign of the EARTH DAWG, and UNDAKOVA freestyled a few bars about the Church of Hip Hop Yoga, released here for the very first time. You may not know him yet, because as the name suggests U.N.D.A.K.O.V.A. (Universe Naturally Delivers All Knowledge of Vitality Automatically) – this artist’s been keeping a low profile. Coming of age in the 1980’s, KOVA took part in the era that birthed “conscious” Hip Hop.
Hailing from the lower east side of New York City on the border of Chinatown, for many years UNDAKOVA lived art as life by simply sharing his “MC” (make change) skills and leading ciphers. Since his teen years, locals knew him as UNDAKOVA – and he was groomed for success having learned to rap and dance the latest dances in the school yard down the block; early on gracing stages with Hip Hop’s founding fathers KRS ONE, George Clinton, LL CooL J, Black Sheep, Self Suffice and Akim Funk Buddha. “When I say Hip Hop, I am speaking of a living, breathing and evolving creative consciousness that is connected to a lifestyle and total art form,” reflects the artist. Unfortunately, excelling with leaps and bounds as an artist in the music industry opened him up to the painful realities of greed and profiteering that now run the industry and suppress the art in pure form. Although KOVA saw his teenage posse poised to rise to fame as the next “it” boys, he was rapidly disenchanted by the messages he was expected to portray to his community, as well as the reality that entering into the industry positioned him as little more than a coat hanger for major clothing brands and a pawn of shady, corporate deals benefiting white male patriarchy.
Having for many years witnessed first hand the social and cultural toll the extremes of global-capitalism and the “American Dream” take on communities, particularly urban black families; UNDAKOVA called a halt to his blossoming career and for over a decade went ghost as he indulged in self-realization work, eventually, emerging as a pioneering leader of the fusion of Hip Hop and Yoga with his now partner, Or Nah. Influenced personally by Vipassana meditation, the Bagua map of Daoist cosmology and Zen Baoding balls, today a major part of the UNDAKOVA Hip Hop yoga mission and his service as an artist involves “remedying a world in which many have lost touch with their true nature and ability to practice self-authority and authentic self-expression.”
What Afrikaa Bambaataa designated as Emceein, Deejayin, Breakin, Graffitti Art and “Knowledge of Self in Community,” in Holistic Hip Hop terms UNDAKOVA further distills down to sound, vocals, intention, movement and visuals; what he calls the 5 Elements of UNDAKOVA Holistic Hip Hop Yoga. Through a constellation of sacred arts, including his many adaptations of eastern philosophies, “I have gained a high level of self-mastery and awareness that is embedded into my identity and service as an artist” says UNDAKOVA, real name David Jason Williams.
Beatboxing, beat-rhyming, DJing, music production, freestyling, MCing and songwriting comprise his primary skill set. With additional certification as a kids Hip Hop Yoga instructor and B.E.A.T. Global teaching artist, his work empowers youth to produce and perform their own music framed by synergistic techniques for enhancing spiritual hygiene. Holistic spiritual principles are delivered with a social-justice oriented emphasis on community and unity. He currently works in NYC public schools and one detention center 4 days a week as well as leads a kids Hip Hop Yoga class at Cobra Club in Bushwick.
UNDAKOVA, currently co-director with Or Nah at the Urban Mystery Skool ULTRACULTURAL OTHERS, is also considered a pioneer of the emerging trend toward substance-free wellness parties. The urban mystery skool community in NYC comes together each month on the new moon for a wellness ritual called DREAM BEAT. During DREAM BEAT, you can find UNDAKOVA bumping shakti-bass and leading an all ages tribe of 40-60 people in positive affirmations correlated to the chakras of Hindu cosmology. Ecstatic Dance, spoken word, cacao medicine and circle work are other hallmarks of this event, designed for those that wish to connect to the divinity found in the body, mind and nature. Last fall, he and Or Nah started taking small groups on retreat in Thailand, where they do the Hip Hop Yoga work in barefoot nature paradise, ecstatic dance on the crystalline sand beaches of the shamanic island PHANGAN and savor mind-blowing homemade thai curries.
“It is not necessarily my intention to highlight the race, class, and gender prejudices embedded in the world’s religions or forms of popular entertainment but to use the arts – integrated art both of and for the community – to establish commonalities which promote the growth of a global society with a shared set of spiritual values and profound sense of stewardship of the earth,” reflects David.
His EARTH DAWG$ freestyle hits home with hooks like “I am stay shining regardless / candles crystals cleanse my auras / we ultra cultural others” and “We just some people who learned to manifest / also we believe we’re blessed / we believe the truth is in your chest / when you flow from your heart and focus on your breath.” Get the full download by watching the official ULTRACULTURAL OTHERS Where Tha Earth Dawg$ AT? below
Learn more about the next Hip Hop Yoga Retreat in Thailand May 3-13th here