How does it feel to be one of the most influential Native hip hop artists in Indian country?
It's great to get that kind of feedback because of the hard work that I have put in over time. This has been a long journey. Some people say they were an overnight success. It took me 10 years to become an overnight success.
How did you get started?
It all started with the love of the culture of music. I've always been drawn to hip-hop. I was always empowered by other Native artists doing this, because we've generally looked at it as someone else's culture. In some ways, we felt as if we didn't have the right to participate.
You blend traditional culture and contemporary idioms in your performances. How did you come up with your unique style?
I have always been a traditional dancer and I have been part of pow wow culture since I was a kid. I was traditional before I danced fancy. Then you have hip-hop culture—to put them together I thought, 'No, you don't really do that.'
Later on, times changed. Our culture is changing. We are losing a lot of our culture, our language, so we are finding ourselves in a state of emergency to preserve this language and culture. We were invited to dance in Bozeman. After we danced, we were leaving the stage to change what we were wearing and the woman told us they didn't have anything to fill the time and told us to continue performing. I looked at my nephew and we rapped in our regalia. People were very open to it. We also shared a positive message, as I always try to do.
After we got off the stage, an elder was walking over and I thought, “Oh no, he's going to get mad at us.” He was a Crow elder who probably knows all the protocols, speaks the language—one of those people you really look up to. He took his hat off, extended his hand, and said, 27
“That was pretty damn powerful, what you guys did. You showed them that you embraced who you are as a Crow Native person, and at the same time spoke the language of the young people. Because you put those two together, they were open to it. You shared positive messages.” He said, “Keep doing that—that is powerful. Our young people are dying, they are on drugs, they are on alcohol, and their committing suicide—anything you do with good intentions and a good heart is worth it.”
Your music incorporates a wild looping element, where you record part of the song and can immediately sing along with it. How'd you get into this?
I had the idea for some time. I saw people online doing looping and I thought it was cool because you can add background music in real time. I thought if I ever did it, I would do it Native style. I went to audition for America's Got Talent in Denver, but I only had the equipment for about a week and honestly my audition was whack. (laughs) The local paper did an interview and they recorded a video. That's when we made Prayer Loop Song. It was a great stepping stone.
You recently brought contemporary and tradition together by changing back and forth from regalia to street clothes in your video Somewhere.
That video is a way to show how we as Native people walk in two worlds.
What does the world need to know about Supaman?
Above all the music and the videos and opportunities and blessings that people see, that's cool. It's awesome and I'm thankful for all of that, but what is most important to me as a human being is my wife and my children. I am a family man I am a husband and I am a father and that is most important.
How did you get the name Supaman?
I was going to a DJ battle and I didn't have a name. I was going by DJ Chris. My friend said, “Man, you need a name.” We started going through comic book characters and he said, “Just use DJ Supaman.” You know he's good, he can save the world. People now ask me, “What does that represent?” I tell them yes he's about the comic book character, but it's also about the fact we all have potential in each one of us to be something great. We all have something to tap into to make this world a better place to be a Superman or Superwoman. That's what I'm trying to be. I'm trying to be that person.
Supaman on Working with Acosia Red Elk
"I thought it would be really cool to incorporate the sound of jingles in one of my songs. The jingle dress and the jingle dress dance is a medicine dance, so to add the sound would be powerful due to the healing element of the song.
"I thought of Acosia. I have seen her at pow wows and realized it would be great to have her as part of the video. A lot of people know her and she is a good person with a good heart.
"She told me she would be honored. A year later, we came together and we filmed the video on the Crow agency. Everything lined up just right.
Acosia is awesome, and all about healing. She is into yoga, and the philosophy and teachings associated with it, including positivity, aligning your chakras. Her character really shows and really shines."