Indigenous Hip-Hop Star J25 is the First Native Woman Inducted Into the Recording Academy

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

In its six decades of presenting the Grammys, the Recording Academy has never inducted a Native American woman to be a judge, until now. Jezelle Childs-Evans, also known as J25, is the first.

The Wisconsin-based hip-hop star will help judge submissions for the next awards ceremony, in late January, and she’s seeking the creation of an Indigenous category. Of the academy’s 11,000-plus members, women account for just 26 percent. Childs-Evans says her induction “gives me a chance to be a part of the change in the future of music,” she tells Wisconsin Public Radio’s Elizabeth Dohms-Harter.

The Green Bay Press-Gazette’s Frank Vaisvilas, who covers Native communities, first ran the story—and WPR’s new podcast takes a deeper dive into Childs-Evans’ lyrics and life in an interview that foregrounds her fight for the return of land. Each song—from “Land Back” to “Indigenous”—excoriates state-sanctioned theft and familiar injustices but also affirms how wide-ranging and creatively diverse Native joy is. Her music enlarges and expands Indigenous identities and experiences beyond a single set of bounds.

“Native American hip-hop / paving the way and it won’t stop / Aboriginal, flow original, got the red game in the gridlock,” she raps. “Indigenous, strong and resilient / 500 years and we’re still here / We weathered the storm like Trail of Tears / Going hard for my res like I’m Ada Deer / The creator help me see it clear.”

“I’m just speaking facts / Missing Indigenous women all over the world / gotta put an end to that / We gonna need more leaders to lead us.”

Her music video for “Indigenous” just had its premiere, and this short montage of ripping beats is a strong chaser.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate