If you haven’t heard the name Matamba yet, you soon will. Matamba is a Bolivian roots reggae and hard rock artist (he performs and creates music in both genres), who in the last few years has become a household name in Bolivia and will be the first Bolivian artist to “break” onto the international scene. Matamba has performed throughout South America, Central America, parts of Europe and will soon participate in the 9 Mile Music Festival in Miami, Florida, in March with big-name artists such as Julian Marley, DMX, Capleton, Sizzla, Rihanna, and others.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, before we get into what Matamba does, we need to get into who he is. Matamba is an Afro-Bolivian, born in Buenos Aires, Argentina to an Argentine father and Afro-Peruvian mother, whose family later relocated to Santa Cruz, the second city and commercial center of Bolivia, where he grew up in the “hood” which shaped the man he is today. Matamba is not only a singer, but a musician, producer, lyricist, writer, and composer whose musical origins, like most artists in the African diaspora, started in the church where he met other people with a love and passion for music.
Matamba joined together with his church friends to form the hard rock band K-Rux. At the time of the band’s inception, there was no scene for hardcore music in Santa Cruz, so K-Rux performed on the streets and created a movement which included musicians, skateboarders, and graffiti artists. Matamba named the movement “La Raza” (Race) which has since morphed into a broader cultural movement in Bolivia. With K-Rux, Matamba began making a name for himself, gaining notoriety and popularity as this Afro-Bolivian kid playing hardcore metal, filling theaters around the country on word-of-mouth and “buzz” factor alone. The music and the message just moved the people and they were drawn to K-Rux.
Matamba stayed with K-Rux for 5 years before creating/joining a new group “Contracultura” (Counter Culture) which expressed unity and coming together of all groups of people. Now he is working on his own projects and about to release his third album. Matamba is so much more than his music though, and that is his true calling. He recently completed a campaign with PapelBol (a Bolivian organization committed to raising awareness and educating the youth about recycling and climate change), on the importance of recycling and protecting the earth through youth engagement and empowerment, entitled “Cual es tu papel en la vida?” (What is your role in life?)
Matamba doesn’t have fans, he has sisters and brothers, collectively they are a movement and part of his culture.
Prior to the recycling campaign, Matamba worked on an anti-bullying campaign to reduce the prevalence of bullying and to help youth explore other ways of interacting with one another and expressing themselves. Matamba recorded the song “Mas Fuerte Que Dolor” (Stronger than Pain), which he uses when he speaks to youth and school groups about his own experiences with bullying. Through his experiences and music, he easily connects with the kids in a meaningful way. At one point Matamba took his power back and became the bully but then realized he was no better than the boys who were bullying him and immediately stopped. As a black man in a predominantly Latino world, an anomaly in the community in which he lived and the endeavors he pursued, Matamba was often told what he could and could not do and what he could and could not be, which sparked the flame of rebellion in him and that we see reflected in his lyrics.
Matamba is proud of who he is and of his African heritage, roots, and culture. He works with and is often sought out by the leaders of the Afro-Bolivian community to speak, perform, and build with the youth. He is in search of ways to better promote and preserve Afro-Bolivian cultural contributions to Bolivian society and attempting to empower the broader Afro-Bolivian community to step out from the shadows and back into their proper place as equal members of society.
Matamba doesn’t have fans, he has sisters and brothers, collectively they are a movement and part of his culture. He is gracious and generous with the many people, parents and children alike, who approached us frequently over the course of our interview in a local coffee shop. Ever open with a ready smile and welcoming words, he never says no to those who seek out a picture or an autograph. He is a man of the people and he works for the people and is ready to take his work and his message to the next level through his music and his public outreach.
Matamba is an artist with a message; he is more than a man, he is a movement; he is the embodiment of the dreams he and his community have for all Afro-Bolivian youth, and he recognizes the responsibility his success places on him.
To learn more about Matamba and his music check out his social media links below:
Official Site: matamba.net