Guatemala’s Doctor Nativo is one of Central America’s most exciting new talents. His music layers Mayan spirituality, social activism, and folk wisdom over a propulsive sound combining reggae, cumbia, hip hop, and pre-Columbian instruments. His debut album, Guatemaya is a call for social justice for his country’s indigenous majority. It came out on Guatemalan Independence Day: September, 15 2018, on Stonetree Records.
Doctor Nativo (real name: Juan Martinez) grew up in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. In 1990, during the bloody, cold-war era Guatemalan civil war, Nativo’s father, Arturo Martinez was assassinated along with five of his friends. Nativo’s childhood, which began so happily, came crashing down.
By the age of fifteen, Nativo had left school and had taken up the life of a traveling musician. After busking his way through Europe, India, and Latin America, life brought him to Cuba (the country of his father’s birth), to study at the Escuela Nacional de Arte in Havana. Eventually he settled in Barcelona, where he played music in the street, every day, for years, and found his voice through direct contact with the people.
Guatemaya revives the ancestors and lets them loose on the dance floor with such tracks as Pa’ que se Levanten (Rise Up!) , El 20 and La Voz Popular (The Voice of The People) celebrate indigenous resistance and popular empowerment, while Guatemaya, is a proud assertion of Mayan identity, graced by Mayan-language rapper Tzutu Kan, that’s become something of an anthem among the youth of Guatemala.
The result is a whole new chapter in the music of Central America and Stonetree Records. Guatemaya marks the first direct release to the U.S. market from the legendary, independent label that brought Andy Palacio, Aurelio Martinez and other Garifuna greats to the world.