About Molina Speaks

Molina Speaks is a writer, poet, hip-hop artist, and event producer. Molina is the Performance Director and a Lead Instructor for Youth On Record. He is a TedX fellow and has been an Artist In Residence with the National Hispanic Heritage Center, Mizel Museum, Journey Through Our Heritage and Noel Community Arts School. He has worked on National Endowment for the Arts projects and has accepted invitations to speak and perform and dozens of universities, including Columbia University, University of California at Davis, UT Austin, CU Boulder, and the University of New Mexico. Molina Speaks has taught master artist classes at Boston Arts Academy and Colorado Academy. He has collaborated with the Denver Spirituals Project and was recognized as a keynote poet for Denver's Lalo Delgado Poetry Festival. Molina is the music supervisor for the documentary film Papers. He is a member of the Cafe Cultura artist collective. Molina has released over a dozen poetic and musical works, which have been recognized and critically acclaimed by the Denver Post, 5280 Magazine, Westword, Colorado Music Buzz and other publications.

“A Poetic Ode to S.T.E.A.M.” (Biennial of the Americas 2015)

by Molina Speaks

(This poem was scribed in reflection of conversations about S.T.E.M. and S.T.E.AM. in Education.  Molina was commissioned as the live poetic scribe of the Biennial of the Americas 2015.)

A Poetic Ode to S.T.E.A.M.

(science, technology, engineering, ARTS, math)

mi poesia es mi corazon
mis artes, mi cuerpo
these relics, these stones
what is life
without these poems? 

what are your numbers worth?
sin musica?
sin danza?
your math, without design?

what are your buildings worth
if they don’t stimulate my mind?

mi alma, my technology
mi sciencia, the wings of las mariposas
the songs that keep my dreams alive

what are your lab results worth
without appreciation for the particles
that dance across my skies? 

mi poesia es mi corazon
mis artes, mi cuerpo
these relics, these stones
what is life
without these poems?

“Opening Sounds” (Biennial of the Americas 2015)

By Molina Speaks

(This poem was scribed to reflect the opening night street concert by the band Flobots.  Molina was commissioned as the live poetic scribe of the Biennial of the Americas 2015.)

I want to be free from this history
I want to be free from this history
I want to be free from this history

I see you,
I too
want to be Free
yet I am tethered
to a reality paved for me

Ya Basta!
I take a sledgehammer to past paths I did not lay

Ya Basta guay!
Ya Basta!
I take a sledgehammer to future paths I did not lay

Railroad tracks
for trains of thought
conveyed Now

I am an agent of change
yet I am tied to my history,
unforgotten
and unforgettable

I hold our people’s struggles and victories as my Truths, so I
fight with fight with fight with
Tools

break

The conscious performance landscape
has changed:
a milieu of arms crossed and fists raised,
who is who?

Fists don’t fly free to the sky the way they used to
like flags melting down the molten ticks of our times
speaking urgency
unrecognized

The boom lights rise to the righteous sound bouncing
through the darkness off the corporate towers downtown
juxtaposing,
contradicting,
conflicting,
merging,
communicating Love into the confusion  and chaos
of Now

break

“Opening Words” (Biennial of the Americas 2015)

By Molina Speaks

(This poem was scribed to reflect the Opening Symposium of the Biennial of the Americas 2015.  Molina was commissioned as the live poetic scribe of the Biennial.)

Suit Jackets and Ties
Live at the Americas
Cocktail Dresses and Heels
Costume and Curtain Time, Shine

The Beautiful People shuffle truths and disguise Now
Live at the Americas

Let us talk Money
Let us talk Business and Big Names
Politics and Community

Tell me about the Thought Leaders in the
“The Conceptual Economy”
I will tell you about the hood
and the ideas that are mined from our lives
by monopolies

It is a privilege to be Here
I will soak it up and plant a flag
A seat at the Table for the Poet reading shadows
I am honored to be of Residence here

Now

Let us talk of Now

Pull out the Resumes, Bios and the Script,
under-rehearsed name pronunciations
and Million Dollar accents
on Investment

Meet the Talent
Enunciate your Passions in Fluctuating Times

Now!
Meet the Millennials!
Meet the Billennials!!, the bilinguals

Meet the Now Statistics as America Browns

Do not panic, America
is Browning

Do not call me “Hispanic”
Another conversation for another time…

(do not panic)

For now we are speaking of Now
The Millennials are coming!!
The Millennials are coming!!!!

I counted 27.5 uses of the word “Millennial”
in session
and perhaps one mention of “justice”

Education and Choice, Taxonomies
Digital Currencies and Technologies
Old standards and Domains irrelevant
Times of Informal Educations and Social Media hype
Now

Where will you find Yourself a  m  e  r  I  c  a ? ? ?

Interesting… these times are “interesting”
(every intellectual’s favorite word, including mine)
Call and respond with me…

    When I say, “Well, what do you think ??? hmm…”
     You rub your chin and say “Hmm mmm I  n  t  e  r  e  s  t  I  n  g …”

Ready:

The experts say you can Now learn to computer program in about six months flat through some diligence and a free online class at Harvard… in exchange for your $70,000 receipt of debt from a university of your choosing: 

“Well, what do you think ??? hmm…”
“… Hmm mmm I  n  t  e  r  e  s  t  I  n  g …”

The experts say we are obsessed with public persona, that we are distracted, that we have redacted focus, that we are not engaged in the Now but instead are infatuated with the Packaging of Now…

“Well, what do you think ??? hmm…”
“… Hmm mmm I  n  t  e  r  e  s  t  I  n  g …”

(COMES NOW from Molina Speaks, you can find me on twitter at @ Molina Speaks that’s M-O-L-I-N-A S-P-E-A-K-S)

The experts say that the future of social media is really about teaching us how to set boundaries for ourselves…

Well, what do you think ??? hmm…”
“… Hmm mmm I  n  t  e  r  e  s  t  I  n  g …”

Finally, when asked, “what is the key to happiness?”, the experts say:

In a nutshell, “Happiness is about American Exceptionalism and Investment Potential…”

“Happiness is about Impact and Purpose…”

Another expert made it about “The Chicken or the Egg”, then babbled on about qualities and quantities, qualitative and quantitative data, extended wordiness and finally proclaimed that “It cannot be contained in mere words…”

Lastly, she said Happiness was about her Job, Success, and “Kicking Ass”

Well, what do you think ??? hmm…”
“… Hmm mmm I  n  t  e  r  e  s  t  I  n  g …”

Interesting indeed.

a  m  e  r  I  c  a
Look back at your history so that you can us where we are going
Let us play Definition together
as we sit Now at your Table: 

What
Would
Make
You 
Happy

NOW
America?

The Wings of La Mariposa

On this day the governors of La Alma
proclaimed Youth On Record
a social justice organization

It was a day some snickered,
some sneered, some jeered

The community at large cheered La Mariposa
peering into mirrors of self doubt,
inferiority complexes and barrels of disbelief,
turning over leaves from falling dreams,
from making something out of nothing
to taking old things we knew
and making them new,
speaking truth to news cameras
in search of sound bites,
barking at the heavens
a triumph
of horn lines,
rapping 16 bars at a time
about transformed lives,
watching the street signs change
under disappearing telephone lines,
in gentrifying times
we thought we might change something too

So we asked You
to support a vision

My son asked me last week about Capitalism
My response was a story about $2.1 million
collective footnotes in history, a building
that would broadcast the next seven generations,
constructed on the backs of artists,
activitists, dusty foot philosophers
and working class dreamers,
brave enough to collaborate with bigger money,
and big money brave enough to collaborate with the people

A step in a direction
of shedding the divisions
that imprison humanity’s wings

It was a day of celebration en La Alma,
a day we all breathed with less fear,
a day we knew you would remember us
standing here
speaking with you
the wings of La Mariposa.

 

~ a poem to mark the grand opening of Youth On Record’s Youth Media Studio on the West Side of Denver

 Speaks, Kalyn, Yoda, Nate

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Molina Speaks and DJ Icewater: Live Mixtape Show Vol 1, November 15, 2014

Live Mixtape Show w/ DJ Icewater Vol 1 – Nov 15, 2014: Molina Speaks birthday party at Dryer Plug Studios.  Molina Speaks and DJ Icewater performed the forthcoming Sex Money Ego album live in full for the first time.  They were joined onstage by artists Ill Se7en, Bianca Mikahn, Mike Wird, Pablo Kee, Laron Anon Coleman, musicians Randy Runyan, Zay Rios, and Lannie Shelton, and vocalist  Miss Tanya.  

Photos by Ric Urrutia. 

DJ Icewater at Molina Speaks bday party 2014Molina Speaks and Zay Rios - Sex Money EgoMolina Speaks and Miss Tanya

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What The TheloniUs

#WhatTheTheloniUs

Thelonious Monk inspired scores of jazz and hip hop legends, but in his time he was that artist who contemporaries thought was crazy because he did things his way. They didn’t know if he was garbage or genius. History has proven Thelonious a complicated and brilliant visionary. His rhythms, patterns and textures continue to inspire musicians and poets alike. We are TheloniUs when we are not afraid to be ourselves, regardless of whether people “get it.” We are TheloniUs when we take what is old and make it new with our own original wild style. #WhatTheTheloniUs is a journey through jazz and lyrical improvisation.

Concept by Molina Speaks
Produced by Diles for Visceral View Entertainment

Vocals performed by Molina Speaks and guest emcees
Beats and Mixes by Diles
Mastered by DJ Icewater

1. #WhatTheTheloniUs features guest vocals by Ill Seven and Yuzo Nieto on Saxaphone. Written, recorded and improvised start-to-finish to Diles beat in a two-hour studio session at Dryer Plug Studios, October 2014.

2. #Check features guest vocals by Mike Wird, Asia Fajardo on Saxaphone, and Chris G on Flute. Written, recorded and improvised from scratch including beat in a two hour studio session at Cherry Sound Studios, February 2014.

3. #TimePiece features Randy Runyan on Trumpet. Written, recorded and improvised start-to-finish to Diles beat in a two-hour studio session at Dryer Plug Studios, August 2014.

4. #Hustle features Joshua Trinidad on Trumpet. Horns recorded at the end of #WhatTheThelonius session at Dryer Plug Studios, lyrics written in a 30-minute stream-of-consciousness session on a Wednesday morning at sunrise, then recorded in a 90-minute studio session at Late Nite Studios.

Molina Speaks - What The Thelonius

Future Town

Future Town
     by Molina Speaks

The future of music lifts
Ancient hieroglyphs in sound waves
Modern airplay must give way
The new creative class is coming

Humming, hovering, hustling
to be heard, our words curve
Mockingjay designs, dagger verbs
our picket signs

Old lines become shadows and we shade
Done standing in lines, music will even pay to play

We drown days of sorrows in cluttered bedrooms, unfinished basements, gentrified stoops, street corners, opening garage doors,
planting miracles into unlit space, endless time,
designing our own futures so we will not be swallowed
by dust bowls or ghosts in the machine

We are
not the mere relics of strange fruit,
not the forgotten hands of intertwined roots
We sculpted the bricks, leveled the floors and mixed cement for these buildings, and we want more than what we have been given access to

We deserve to be heard, so yes, we will even pay to play
Even if it’s just to spit the fire of lyrics to near nonexistent crowds, most whom will not hear the brilliance in the poetry of even one verse over the roar of beer, cell phones, sidetalk
We still write in chalk on sidewalks
You never know how you may reach the next one like you

Art will always say “I am Here”,
riding a bucking bull into Future Town waving two fish,
carrying two buckets of water and organ keys
into Aquarius

Be you Ol Skool, True Skool or New Age
the tags on the high beams are always the same
Adapt or Die
That’s music

We weather the edges left of center with our right brains
saddling it, circling days of crows that cray the decays of the age

Do you see a web that could upend the top down and flip it on its head?
Do you envision a collapse and a revision of disposable culture?
Or just The Collapse?
Can you envision a new system of economic and cultural exchange?
Or do you only see the cash?

Reset
We thread
Skill sets
As artists
We flex
Next

Whether you wax Dystopian Utopia or Utopian Dystopia
We do not wait for outcomes, we create the context

Response:
A call to La Alma we address the most pressing issues of this design
The artist knows she can confront the education crisis, and through music, reverse the school-to-prison pipeline
The focused activist knows it is not about solving but experimenting
He actively addresses the systems’ isms
A life vision that reengages disenfranchised suns and daughters
Deeper relationships within the village
Land, food,clothing, shelter, water and music

Time:
To crowdsource the alleyways
Provide direct access to the underserved
Convert startup and revenue streams to unsuspected dreamers
Create capacity for new content in up-and-coming markets
Draft policies to make up-and-coming a reality for communities who are not, but need to be, and deserve to be
Up-And-Coming

Reality.

Remember:
It is our responsibility to activate ourselves, advocate wealth, and create healthy space in vibrant places where the soul of humanity speaks loudest through the teeth of resilient youth who don’t give a FUCK
about any of this fancy language

They came to sing
They came to shimmy, to shake
They came to two step, doo wop, lindy hop, gogo, break
Pop, lock, salsa, merengue, bachata, krump, twerk–Orale!
They came to smile
They came to laugh
They came to play

We owe it to ourselves to be there with them
In the schools, in the parks, in the heart centers of Community
Downtown, uptown, ghettotown, underground, aboveground

Future Town.

 

[Live poeticizing at the Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit in Washington, DC.  Presented October 28, 2014 on a panel featuring Youth On Record, recognized for music education.]

“Everyday Denver” coming June 2014

i-zdKHgbm-XL“Everyday Denver” EP – My snapshot of and dedication to the MileHighCity as it changes and rearranges.  Album will be released mid-late June.

Features beats by Mikey Fresh, Soul City Studios, Denver.  Each track features live trumpet solos by Randy Runyan, master trumpeter, Denver.  Recorded by Owen Trujillo, Late Nite Studios.  Produced by DJ Icewater.

I will be pressing 1000 copies of the album, most of which will be given away free and distributed throughout the Mile High City.

Support the project:

Appreciator (Advance Album Order): $10 + $3 Shipping





Supporter (5 signed copies): $50





Community Producer (10 signed copies): $100





Donate Any Amount:





First track leak: “Denver”

Every Day Denver Watching Clouds Change Seasons

The Uncomfortable Truth about the Arts in Schools

Following is a guest blog by artist HK, who is an artist in the way she writes, plays piano, dances, and expresses all aspects of life.  Following is a critical essay she shared with me about the relationship between arts and education, two aspects of life she is most passionate about.  I asked her to share her writing with The Artist Lens.  ~ Molina Speaks

Guest Blog: “The Uncomfortable Truth about Arts and Schools”
by HK
Artist and Educator

hjk.photo3

The arts have always been used during times of protest to tell a suppressed story. The arts are provocative and raise questions from even the most disengaged and timid. There is more to the story than budget cuts when it comes to the arts being removed from our schools.  In search of the full story, we must be willing to be uncomfortable. We must be willing to seek out and listen to long-silenced voices within our system of education.  Artists and underserved students know discomfort well.  I say we must be willing to be uncomfortable because when we are uncomfortable we instinctively begin to seek relief. When the environment is right, this leads to questioning, collaboration, and eventually the creation of a new possibility.

I’ve coordinated, participated in and observed many artist residencies in schools.  I’ve been thinking a lot lately about these experiences and the tension that often exists between the visiting teaching artist and the classroom teacher. I’ve seen residencies arranged with little to no planning, teaching artists placed in a room insufficiently sized for what they are trying to create with students, and artists left alone with very large groups of students they don’t know. During some incredible assemblies and performances in schools, I have found myself as the only adult (outside of the artist) in an auditorium of students. In these moments I wonder: Where did all the teachers go? Where is school leadership? Why isn’t anyone concerned that there might arise an issue that the teaching artist cannot manage alone?  Most importantly perhaps, I wonder why none of the adults are interested enough to prioritize the time and/or stick with their students through a fresh, creative experience.  (And yes, as someone who has always worked in schools, I understand that opportunities to “get work done” [without students] can feel few and far between).

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The Art of Massage

Following is a guest blog by Elena Davis, owner and massage therapist at Peace of Mind Massage in south Denver.  I met Elena at my “poetry burial” for dias de los muertos (Days of the Dead) in November 2012.  I retired five poems from performance.  Elena then came to the community“poetry burial” I hosted for winter solstice that year.  I was inspired by the way she spoke about the healing art of massage therapy.  I experienced injury from a car accident in August 2013.  Elena and the therapists at her practice have been extremely helpful to my healing process.  They have also taught me a lot about the art that is inherent in our bodies and basic movements.  I asked Elena to write about her art for The Artist Lens.  ~ Molina Speaks

“The Art of Massage”
by Elena Davis, LMT, NCTMB, Owner
Peace of Mind Massage, INC.

Elena Davis - Art of MassageI could say that I found the healing arts when I was 18 years old and went to Massage Therapy school. But, that would imply that one can not be born with the healing arts as an innate talent like other traditional art forms. As a child I naturally rubbed my parents feet and hands. As a teenager I comforted friends with shoulder rubs. It was a natural gift that took me 18 years to comprehend as something I could actually do for a living. Massage Therapy is often a second career for people as I discovered when I was one of the youngest in my class. The slogan for the school I attended (Central Florida School of Massage Therapy) was “A life evolving experience”. And, it truly was for me and many of my classmates. The technical application, anatomy and physiology, and pathology education is very important to building a strong knowledgeable foundation. However, the third eye opening, spiritual experience that one can go through in Massage school is what really helps form the healing art portion of bodywork. A therapist who does not go through spiritual and artistic growth during their career may deliver a technically precise massage but it will lack in creativity.

The creative aspect of Massage is similar to painting, writing, and playing an instrument in many ways.

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