Elephant Power – MC Yogi
If you attend a lot of yoga classes where music is the background norm for practice, chances are that you’ve heard MC Yogi in the last three years. Elephant Power, released in 2008, has become a classic for yogi music buffs around the world.
But what is MC Yogi? Dj, kirtan, rapper, chant artist, spiritual gangster?
“Yoga Hip Hop is here!” MC Yogi declares in a personalized iTunes review on Elephant Power.
For MC Yogi, hip hop and painting graffiti as a teen in San Francisco started it all. Inspired by artists like Run DMC and The Beastie Boys, MC Yogi soon began writing his own material and freestyling at parties. Spending most of his teen years in a group home for at-risk youth, it was hip hop that provided an avenue for creativity.
And then, at age 18, MC Yogi, also known as Nicholas Giacomini, found yoga, and everything changed. Now a full-time yoga teacher and performing artist who mixes up his love of hip-hop and yoga to seek truth through a whole new genre, he’s found a new generation of yogi hipsters and mystic warriors to join him in the search.
Rap rooted in chant, telling mystical stories with west coast breaks. And so it begins. The ‘Invocation’ leads us into a sacred world; we’re going back thousands of years, way back, to access the power of sound grounded deep in yogic philosophy. But wait, also steeped heavy in a North Bay beat? What a phenomenal challenge, but it happens on this album as if it were natural, almost like these beats were always there. We’re just plugged in now. If you’re into practicing your yoga with music, give this album a turn.
Smashing paradigms, and having quite a time doing it. Try on some ‘Elephant Power,’ featuring special guest Bhagavan Das, and tell me you don’t feel like striking your favorite posture or dancing, maybe even break-dancing, as you set your inner hip hop soul on fire.
“I always make sure to invoke you first; you’re the ancient tone known as ‘Om,’” declares MC Yogi, as Bhagavan Das invokes ‘Ganesha Namah Om,’ an ancient backdrop for worlds to collide and spark out some unexpected musical fireworks.
Mixing pop and yoga is becoming more common (see Sting, etc), but rapping and beatboxing about Hindu gods? It’s a crazy concept on paper; you have to hear to believe it, but it’s truly amazing, a sonorous foundation for focus in an intense asana practice or just walking down the street in your neighborhood. It’s serious kirtan, but he makes it fun at the same time.
Other well-known chant artists also join in on the party.
On ‘Ganesh Is Fresh,’ Jai Uttal provides the groundwork with his beautiful background chant: ‘Jaya Ganesha, Jaya Ganesha, Jaya Ganesha Om,’ while MC Yogi proclaims: ‘Ganesh makes everything possible because elephant power’s unstoppable.’
Jai Uttal later commented: “MC yogi brings the yoga tradition into the modern world with wisdom, devotion, joy and humor. Dance, pray and enjoy!”
Perhaps the gem of the album is ‘Rock On Hanuman,’ a hopping tribute to Hanuman and an invocation that is both timeless and refreshing, with special guest Krishna Das. It’s a sound that is as undying as Krishna Das’ blues-laced chant ‘Shri Ram Jai Ram, Jai Jai Ram’ and as revitalizing as lyrical master MC Yogi’s version of the epic story of Hanuman.
“MC Yogi channels the ancient devotional spirit of India in a completely original way with love, respect, humor and joy,” said Krishna Das in a recent interview.
Jai Uttal appears on one other track on the album, as does Bhagavan Das. Jivamukti founder/instructor Sharon Gannon even appears on a bonus track ‘Krishna Dub.’
“MC Yogi’s words instill in me a renewed optimism for the future … the future of music, poetry, spoken word and yoga,” noted Sharon Gannon.
“Be the change that you want to see in the world, just like Gandhi,” advises MC Yogi. As we listen, we find a new world in Elephant Power. It’s quite a journey.
Indeed, sacred chant is here to stay, and it evolves as other genres open the door to kirtan and discover its power. MC Yogi has crossed that threshold; the fruits of that leap are evident now, and he says it loud on Elephant Power.
Perhaps Ansuara Yoga’s John Friend said it best: “MC Yogi, you rock my Heart.”
MC Yogi performed at the Wanderlust Festival in Lake Tahoe, California, last year, he has appeared at the Yoga Journal Conferences, the Hanuman Festival in Boulder, CO and is scheduled for a repeat Wanderlust spectacular at the end of July, 2011.
2011 Tour Dates
Wanderlust Festival Tahoe, CA
Anusara Yoga Fest with Sianna Sherman & Elena Brower + MC Yogi Concert
Sept. 9-11 Bhakti Fest MC Yogi Concert and Yoga Workshops
Caribbean Yoga Conference
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Connect with MC Yogi on his website or at the following:
- MC Yogi website.