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Cali at heart, Emci Rimas makes Art a fight for the environment

Updated: May 31, 2020

The Jaguar Arte team takes you this week to meet Emci Rimas, a hip-hop artist from Cali, Colombia.

© Angélica Olaya

His daily walks through the streets of Cali are all it takes to find inspiration. The poet and hip-hop artist Samir Campo Gallego is known in Colombia by his stage name: Emci Rimas. Sometimes walking, sometimes on a skateboard, he likes to go from his family home to his favorite coffee shop-bookstore, La Cafebrería.

His latest song is called "Cali". Emci Rimas sings with passion a tribute to his hometown located between the western mountain range and the Cauca River. The lyrics are written "as a succession of photographs," said the 31-year-old artist. To understand it, it is enough to translate an extract: "Putting my fingers in front of my eyes, I will frame your mountains, your forests, your ferns, your black oaks, your highest peaks. "

Hip-hop, between poetry and photography

Samir Campo Gallego started to study photography a little bit by default. After studying philosophy, he wanted to enter the music academy but he did not pass the entrance exam. So, the student stuck to the viewfinder of a camera, index finger on the shutter, he learns to freeze what is around him. A woman's pelvis, a succession of uneven roofs framed behind a window, the mountains overlooking Cali cut out against a clear sky… "It allowed me to pay attention to the light, to the little details, to tell what I saw differently, it became a passion" he says.

Above all, it was hip-hop that made him vibrate since his early adolescence. "When I was a kid, I thought it was gloomy, but one day I heard a rap group in my neighborhood and I liked them so much that I said to myself: I want to do that too," remembers Emci Rimas. Everything changed for the young man who dreamed of becoming a medical examiner, like his grandfather. At only 16, he was recording a studio album as a duo with a friend. Then came his first solo album, La Esencia del Alma, on Zalama Records in 2014. It states what sets him apart: a mix of poetry, hip-hop, and jazz. That same year, one of his singles, "Oleografía," was heard repeatedly on Colombia's national radio station, Radiónica.

A message for the planet, in Cali and elsewhere

From the beginning, he dreams of being known beyond the borders of Colombia. To link hip-hop, poetry, and philosophy, he founded the Katharsis festival, whose 3rd edition will take place next October in Cali. Emci Rimas will go on tour in Japan.

© Angélica Olaya

Through his songs, he intends to carry a message for the planet. "Millions of voices join together to ask for a stop to pollution, stop to deforestation, stop to the extinction [of species]", he sings against a background of jazz-accented rhythms, in his single "Deshojando el Cielo" [Leaf that strips the sky] released in 2014.

"This is something I feel deeply," the artist confides to Jaguar Arte. Cali is not only the capital of salsa but also its people, neighborhoods, mountains, birds, seven rivers, most of which are dirty. As I write these texts, I have the impression that I am paying a debt to my hometown, to the natives, and to nature. "

Chloé Cosson

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