Mayan Rap Forever: Pat Boy Takes On the World

Pat Boy writes and performs rap music in his mother tongue and has launched his own label and apparel line. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Pat Boy is a Mayan rapper from the tiny town of José María Pino Suárez — population 200. But after a decade of hard work, this young man has accomplished the type of success and recognition that few in his field can boast.

“I first got really into music and rap when I was about 13. I loved to listen to hip-hop artists like Kinto Sol, as well as tropical music from the region. I guess I always knew this was my path, though by no means has it been easy,” reminisces Pat Boy, now 30.

Pat Boy explains that to this day, there is still a great deal of social stigma to speaking Mayan in public places, let alone in art. But Pat Boy emphasizes that the only way to combat these backward ideas is to forge ahead anyway, despite it all. The style of music Pat Boy is most closely associated with is known as Rap Originario, which can be translated as Rap of First Peoples or mother tongues. 

“One of the most satisfying things about my work is to get to work with other artists from countries like Guatemala and Chile who produce incredible music in their own mother tongues. There are not that many of us, but we are a growing community and finally starting to get a bit more representation,” says Pat Boy.

When listening to Pat Boy’s music, you can sense the passion he pours into his lyrics and the quality of his productions, regardless of whether his genre is your thing.

This hard work recently allowed Pat Boy an opportunity to work with fellow musician and producer Ludwig Göransson on the soundtrack for Marvel Studios’ 2022 blockbuster Wakanda Forever. The track, “Láayli kuxa’ano’one,” translates as “we are still here” and centers on the theme of belonging and the fact that the Maya are by no means gone from this world. 

“It was, of course, amazing to get to collaborate on this project, but the best thing of all is the pride it has brought to my community. People who would have before never given us a second look now all of a sudden are reaching out. I have always found it ironic that we have found greater recognition abroad than in our own country, but I guess it’s true what they say, ‘one is never a prophet in their own land,’ ” Pat Boy says with a sly smile. 

Aside from making his own music, Pat Boy spends much of his time offering seminars to up-and-coming artists throughout the Yucatán Peninsula and the rest of Mexico. He notes that many of the youngsters who attend his seminars have no knowledge of their own mother tongues but that this art form serves as a way to spark not only their creativity but also their love for their traditions and culture. 

Pat Boy is currently wrapping up production of his newest album, as well as a compilation he is producing featuring a third generation of upcoming Mayan language musicians. 

He will also be soon departing for Spain, where he is set to perform and accept the Linguapax award for his musical accomplishments as well as his social outreach. 

Ever the entrepreneur, Pat Boy has also launched his own label. ADN Maya colectivo, as well as his own apparel line under the brands Malix Pek and Sangre Maya. 

The chorus from ‘Láayli kuxa’ano’one’

Tene’ wayilene’
I am from here

Tu’ux ku síijil in k’aay
And this is where my song is born

Lela’ in kaajal
This is my land

Lela’ in wotoch
This is my home

Teech a woojel, láak’
You know it, brother/sister

To check out Pat Boy’s music, including his award-winning “Láayli kuxa’ano’one,” give him a listen on Spotify (where he has racked up millions of listens) or wherever music is streaming.

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