Gig Seeker Pro


Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | INDIE

Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2010
Solo Hip Hop




"Def Jam"

Multi-faceted rapper, writer, youth advocate, educator and renowned lyricist, Christopher Mike-Bidtah, aka Def-i, has taken his music as far as Eminem's XM Radio program, NPR, the BBC and beyond. He helped raise over $1 million for the legal funds of Standing Rock Water Protectors, and is a dedicated environmental activist himself; he's traveled to Nigeria as an Artist Educator and Hip-Hop Ambassador as part of the Department of State's Next Level initiative, a program meant to foster "cross-cultural creative exchange in diverse communities," according to its website.

In other words, Def-i has already done a lot, and he's only just getting started. He appears in Santa Fe this weekend after his performance at Meow Wolf's Taos Vortex Festival.

On how he got into hip-hop, Def-i says that "It might have been a Run DMC song, or Chill Rob G, but the drums and the rap kind of stuck. My neighbors were rapping, too, and that left an imprint. This was probably kindergarten, first grade, and it wasn't until sixth grade that I started to listen to all kinds of rap. My dad was in my life for most of my life, as well as my grandfather on my maternal side, but I didn't have my dad around all the time, so I was listening to these rap legends, and they're pretty heavy lyrics for a youth to listen to, but it stuck with me. Then I started to get influenced by B-Boy and B-Girl culture, and my friend, who became this world-renowned dancer Poppin John, asked me 'Do you want to be part of a rap battle?' I remember being in middle school and rapping against somebody who was older and very well-known—I'm not saying I lost or won, but I'm saying I could hang. I was influenced from then on."

On what he writes and rhymes about today, Def-i tells SFR that "My latest album Dream Trails is a reflection of the past three-to-four years of my journey and a lot of stories about experiences I've been through, not only as an artist, but a human being. It's my best work thus far. I was able to laser in on just songwriting. The topics are very diverse, and I feel like it has something for everyone in there."

On how he sees his place in New Mexico music, he says "I've got to give a lot of respect to the vets who laid the foundation for artists out here, but I've definitely seen myself evolve over the years. It's a lot of responsibility as an MC to want to do the best you can, and I'm not saying I'm the best at anything, but if someone were to listen to my catalog, they could easily hear the growth from two albums ago to now."

On how he sees his place beyond New Mexico, he says he's "trying to reach Europe, because people there really love the music and appreciate hip-hop. I want to go places where people maybe haven't seen a rap show. I'm of Diné descent, and I was recently on a tour and partnership with my tribe and the Navajo Treatment Center for Children & Their Families. We were in these very rural areas, and I was coming across a lot of crowds, youths and elders, who had never heard an MC. It's surprising how, in 2019, you can still be a rap pioneer."

On whether his culture impacts his music, Def-i points out that "it does, but I've also never wanted to be compartmentalized as being just one type of MC. Hip-hop's a universal culture. I want to retain my identity, and there are a lot of similarities between the philosophies of Diné and hip-hop culture, but many other influences are in there."

On his hopes for the future, Def-i explains that "I want to finish getting my degree in psychology, so I can somehow try to intertwine my degree with my art. As a touring artist it became very difficult for me to go to classes and do music, but I want to go back to school eventually. I'm inspired by my younger brother Joshua going to school at UNM full time for film, but music keeps me so busy right now. It's a full time lifestyle." - Santa Fe Reporter

"Healing Through Hip-Hop w/ Diné Emcee Def-i"

When I think of Hip Hop, environmental activism isn’t typically the first thing that comes to mind, until I came across Def-i years ago. Def-i made headlines when he helped to raise more than 1.8 million dollars beside artists like Taboo of ‘Black Eyed Peas’ for the legal defense of the Water Protectors during the Standing Rock protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016. Hip Hop has always been a conduit for the marginalized to protest while also publicizing the conditions of their circumstances. Def-i, a proud representative of the Diné Nation, recognized the importance of protests at Standing Rock and utilized his platform and his prowess behind the mic to make an impact.

This is just one example of the great work that Def-i has done. As a man of many passions, his work as a Hip Hop Practitioner (as he calls it) has taken him as far as Nigeria to collaborate and coalesce with the practitioners of every element of hip hop there. “Next Level USA (NLUSA) was a great opportunity,” Def-i told me. Next Level USA’s residency program chose hip hop artists educators, Ami Kim (Beatmaker), JustSole (Dancer), Nosey42 (Graffiti/Aerosol Artist), and Def-i (MC), along with site manager Junious Brickhouse to traveled to Abuja, Nigeria to partner with nationally recognized Nigerian hip hop artists and “build global community through hip hop culture” according to NLUSA. “We immediately started working right away. We created a song based around our cultural heritage on the first day with like six different languages,” Def-i explained. “It came out really dope. Eventually we did a music video. Got to learn a lot about each other, and we got to see a lot of the connections between the tribes out there and our tribes out here. Really I learned as much as I felt like I was sharing,” Def-i continued.

As a youth advocate and educator, Def-i also shares his knowledge and expertise at indigenous schools and on reservations. “I got started because I got mad love for the people on the rez.” Def-i explained. “It’s amazing. Sometimes in the most rural areas of reservations, audiences there haven’t had a rapper or MC perform in front of them live before. It’s something to think about. In 2020 you could still be a hip-hop pioneer in the U.S..” For Def-i, bringing Hip Hop to the reservations and the youth who wouldn’t otherwise have had the opportunity to be exposed to the culture, is about breaking stereotypes and moving past or addressing generational trauma. “Working with youth and helping them express themselves in a positive way through Hip-Hop or poetry I think is definitely helpful in breaking cycles of feeling powerlessness, or loss, or just dealing with whatever adversity they are faced with — especially on the rez,” Def-i explained.

Photo by Justin Bixler
The merging of Def-i’s Diné roots and Hip Hop was effortless for him. The fundamental philosophies in Hip Hop reflected that of the Diné Nation to Def-i at a young age. “As a youth I tried to find some way to fit in because I wasn’t really fitting into the group’s I was around. When I first discovered Hip Hop music what was so inviting about the culture was, the connection between Hip Hop and Diné philosophy. Hip Hop has four main elements to it. In Diné philosophy the number four has a lot of significance. Being surrounded by four sacred mountains, having four sacred directions. Each Direction has a lot of symbolism, as well as the mountains, and it all relates.” Def-i explained.

When relating Hip Hop’s four elements to Diné culture, “I feel like our ancestors have also been practicing these art forms, so to speak, through ancient storytelling or even today through ceremonial practices. There are people in the ceremonies who provide drums and provide a beat for the people who are providing ceremonies they’re as healers in a way but also praying over the drums,” Def-i explained reflecting on the parallels of the DJ. “The ancient storytellers would be modern MCs. A lot of the dancing that happens during the ceremonies also happens in a circle, like life itself.” Def-i pointed out, while also illustrating the parallel of the breakdancer. “A lot of the ancient petroglyphs and pictographs where our ancestors were writing on the wall, share that connection with aerosol art,” Def-i continued.

The Diné creation story even correlates with that of Hip Hop’s roots. “We believe that we travel to four worlds . The first world came from darkness and some people say that Hip Hop also started from when the blackout happened in New York,” Def-i explained. “All these little connections really sparked an interest for me and that’s how I fell in love with the culture of Hip Hop itself.” he continued.

In the beginning Def-i thought he would give dancing a shot. “I tried to be a dancer at first and I wasn’t as good as my peers. I found a connection with poetry and rap music,” Def-i revealed. It was poetry and rap that lead him to battle rapping where he thrived for a long time. Later, with the advice of a college professor and a fellow artist and mentor, Evidence of Dilated People’s, he realized he didn’t want to be remembered as a battle rapper and that his music could be a conduit for social and environmental change. During this same time, there was more hydraulic fracking that was getting closer to where Def-i’s grandparents grew up, near beautiful mountains in a rural area of New Mexico, about 30 miles south of Shiprock.

“My grandfather would say, a long time ago when he would stand on that mountain he would be able to see the Sandia Mountains hundreds of miles away,” Def-i recounted. Now, the pollution from coal power plants, among others, have created a smog that keeps the air thick and the scenery lost. This was one of the many things that inspired Def-i to write music in defiance to big industry and supporting the rights and livelihoods of tribal nations. “At the time I felt like not many people were raising up these kinds of issues in music, especially from the southwest,” Def-i explained. “I wrote, The Land of Enfrackment at that time. The song just raises more awareness about these atrocities happening on our reservations that people in Albuquerque may not see because they never come out to our reservation. I wanted to bring some awareness to it and expose what what’s going on. It was just time to grow up and become more than a battle rapper,” Def-i continued.

Around the time Def-i started battle rapping he met a fellow rapper, Andrew Martinez, also known as Wake Self, who devastatingly, passed away in a car crash in November of last year. “This was around the time I was discovering Hip Hop and becoming more influenced by the culture. I met Andrew at a battle that Foundations of Freedom would put together every second Saturday,” Def-i told me. “When I first met him and I first heard him rap, I felt like he was going to do some amazing things and was destined for greatness. He really shined. I was really impressed by his freestyle abilities and how he was very knowledgeable of not only MCs in general but also knowledge about life. He was very young but very wise for his age. We grew from that point on to be good friends.”

Photo by Justin Bixler
Together they ended up becoming part of Foundation of Freedom, an indigenous based Hip Hop crew out in the Southwest. Later they stepped out of their comfort zones and moved to Albuquerque to start their music journey. “I am just so thankful that I was able to cross paths with him,” Def-i explained. “We became best friends through decades together touring, working on music and just traveling as much as possible. His music lives on and I am here to help carry the legacy of our crew name Definition Rare. Def-i itself is short for Definition Rare, so he’s always been a part of me since day one. I realized I can’t stop. I just want to honor him and his family — our family — and just continue to carry on with the musical journey that we started together.” Def-i continued somberly.

Instead of plugging his own music Def-i ended our conversation by promoting his best friend’s album, Ready To Live.

Go cop that and while you’re at it support Def-i’s latest album, Dream Trails, and follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. - Rize Entertainment

"#DXCLUSIVE: Def-I & Ariano Unite For 'Deserted Oceans' Album"

HIPHOPDX PREMIERE – Albuquerque-based MC Def-i has once again teamed up with veteran SoCal producer/artist Ariano, this time for their new collaborative album Deserted Oceans. The title represents both artists’ homelands, with Def-i hailing from the deserts of New Mexico and Ariano coming from the intoxicating California beaches.

As with Def-i’s previous projects, he firmly spits his truth while uplifting listeners with unbridled positivity. At the same time, Ariano underscores his banging production with an “ethereal quality” that effortlessly lays the foundation for Def-i to – as Ariano puts it – “rap his ass off.”

Comprised of eight tracks, the project features additional contributions from LDontheCut, Dominquez, Tanaya Winder and Sage Cornelius.

Def-i was a frequent collaborator and longtime friend of Wake Self, who was killed by a drunk driver last November. The New Mexico Hip Hop community is still reeling from his death but with the help of artists such as Def-i, his legacy lives on.

Check out the Deserted Oceans album stream, cover art and tracklist below. - HipHopDX

"Navajo Fusion: DDAT Crosses Genres and Generations"

at the Survival of First Voices Festival at San Juan College in Farmington, N.M., and decided they got along together very well. The result was the jazz/hip hop quartet known as DDAT, which released its self-titled debut CD in Spring 2018.

The group is the fusion of the Delbert Anderson Trio (DAT) with the solo rap performer Def-i, hence the acronymic name. DAT, the jazz trio, is comprised of Delbert Anderson (Bitaani Claashchi’i/Kinclichiinii Todachiinii Clans), Nicholas Lucero on drums and Mike McCluhan on upright bass. They have been playing as a group for a little better than five years, although they’ve known each other much longer. They met Def-i (Christopher Mike-Bidtah) about four years ago at the Festival. They’ve been performing together ever since.

DDAT performs at the Jemez Pueblo Ruins in Jemez, N.M., May 2018. Clockwise from bottom left: Delbert Anderson, Mike McCluhan, Nicholas Lucero and Def-i. Photo by J. Morgan Edwards Photography.

DDAT’s album released at the 2018 Gathering of Nations Powwow in Albuquerque, N.M. Cover art created by Dumper (aka Dump la Rock aka Dumper Foo). Photo by J. Morgan Edwards Photography.

Hip hop artist Def-i complements the jazz trio’s smooth beats with rapid-fire lyrics. Photo by J. Morgan Edwards Photography.

Mike McCluhan from DDAT entertains audiences at the New Mexico State Fair, September 2016. Photo by J. Morgan Edwards Photography.

Nicholas Lucero from DDAT entertains audiences at the New Mexico State Fair, September 2016. Photo by J. Morgan Edwards Photography.

Delbert Anderson from DDAT entertains audiences at the New Mexico State Fair, September 2016. Photo by J. Morgan Edwards Photography.

DDAT performs and educates at a variety of venues year-round, including the Sunflower Theater in Cortez, Colo. (above). Photo by Rory Pfotenhauer.

DDAT performing live. Photo courtesy of El Reverend Gomez Photo Works.

DDAT posing at performance. Photo courtesy of DDAT.

“We didn’t know him, personally,” Anderson says of Def-i. “But, when we played a show, we invited him to join us, freestyle. We put it together really quick. People really liked the different genres fused together.”

In true jazz tradition, the quartet began as pure improvisation. But it is now a directed collaboration, actually composing songs together. Anderson laughs, “We thought we would just keep going with it, keep pushing towards whatever it is. We’re still fairly new. But, there’s a lot in store.”

The DDAT sound is reminiscent of the jazzy/hip hop groups Digable Planets, Gang Starr and A Tribe Called Quest. But, where Digable Planets featured spoken word poetry over smooth jazz, DDAT mixes Def-i’s rapid-fire lyrics over more up-tempo, contemporary jazz and funk. In another key difference DDAT composes all its own original music, as opposed to sampling music from other musicians.

The combination works because the styles are not competing. Def-i says, “I feel like we both complement each other. The older crowd seems to like the jazz and the funk elements. And the younger crowd seems to like the rap styles. It’s a contrast, just like colors contrast and complement each other, I feel like our different genres do the same thing in audible form.”

Anderson elaborates, “The Trio had the songs already. We just had to switch it up so Def-i could come in and rap over it. For our new release, those [songs] were specifically written for both of us. Usually, I’ll come up with a melody. And, I’ll take it to the group, and Nick composes his part. I don’t write out everyone’s part. And, Mike just sort of picks up what he wants to do. And, then, Def-i comes in.

“Once we bring it all together, we start to try to fuse it a little better, move things around a little – try to create some structure. Like when Def-i is singing, sometimes it’s just Def-i and the drums going at it. Sometimes, it’s just Def-i by himself.”

Anderson continues, “We know how each other are, as musicians. We’re all individual composers. But, we all know the fundamentals of playing with one another. We know how to collaborate. I think that’s what is really special about this group.”

The trio has its roots in the Farmington area. Lucero recalls meeting McCluhan at San Juan College about 15 years ago. “I was a young drummer, and he was this crazy, bass-playing guy with a ponytail and a black and white Rickenbacker bass.” They don’t limit themselves strictly to the jazz genre. Their broad range includes everything from jazz to pop funk. Lucero has toured with local and nationally recognized musicians over the course of his career. “I’ve played with Kevin Eubanks, Bud Shank [and] Greg Abate in the jazz realm,” he says. “And I’ve toured with The Ionics and Cold Fusion as part of the Vans Warped Tour.”

In the mold of the Wu-Tang Clan, the two musical groups still maintain their individual performance and recording identities. Def-i (Mexican People/Red Streak in the Water/ Many Hogans Clans) released his latest CD, Arrow Rhymanics, in April 2017. Staying true to hip hop culture, Def-i shares the spotlight with a few fellow artists. In particular, he makes a special effort to showcase the talents of several female MCs and rappers, including his close friends Honey, A. Billie Free and Cilena Gonzales. He says, “Having the female voice on this album was huge. I felt like I needed to add more of my female friends [in my] music projects.”

His latest release marks a significant departure from his previous recordings, in that it features other artists’ beats. He describes the process, “Usually I’ll have my own hand in. I’m producing my own music. But I did this whole project with none of my beats. I used other producers from across the country, [even some] from Canada. So, it’s a wide range of different kinds of beats. It’s not one style of production.”

DDAT, the combined group, prides itself on its mass appeal. Its shows attract audiences from across generations as well as across genres. Anderson, who also teaches music at San Juan College, says, “I think we have a really unique product. [We] relate to the younger crowd, who love hip hop. Who come from contemporary music. It also relates to a lot of the seniors who love the whole jazz aspect. We get comments like, ‘I never thought I would like hip hop.’ Or, some of the younger ones say, ‘I never thought I could find jazz that amusing.’ It’s really neat!”

Lucero echoes that point: “I’m able to improvise and move around and solo, which is unique for the hip hop genre. But, it speaks to our influences from the jazz and jam styles of music.”

Their musical expertise and gifts are not going unnoticed. Def-i was recently selected for the Next Level Musical Ambassador Program, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Next Level brings people together and encourages greater understanding through the universality of music as a form of creative self-expression. It also builds on the historic legacy of the Department of State’s Jazz Ambassadors, who first traveled the world in the 1950s.

After traveling to Washington, D.C., for a two-day orientation, Def-i excitedly proclaims, “I am headed out soon to teach, learn and share with the youth of Nigeria as a U.S. Hip-Hop ambassador for beat making/music production. Love and light to all of the fam that truly believe in me. Your support truly means a lot! I was super-humbled and empowered by all of the artists that helped share, build, encourage and inspire me (and, each other) over these last few days of orientation.”

Def-i had a previous connection to the program in the form of fellow artist, Junious Brickhouse. The two met years ago while Brickhouse was traveling through Shiprock, N.M. Def-i retells, “After his service as an artist-educator, he became a co-director of the program and encouraged me to go through the application process. I was very impressed by the program and also highly respect the practitioners I knew that have participated in the program in previous years.” This is the fifth cycle of the program, with seven other countries participating in partnership. The Next Level program selects one artist-educator per hip hop element per country, so there will be 28 in total.

The young rapper was grateful for the opportunity to share not only his artistry, but his culture. “As a Diné MC, I have a unique story to offer along with my style and rhymes. I plan on just being myself and sharing what I have been gifted in hip hop. Mostly, I am looking forward to building with other MCs and I know Nigeria has amazing MCs throughout the country. I believe I will learn just as much as I plan to share.”

Anderson, the music teacher at San Juan College, plays a variety of instruments, He is a life-long musician who began singing and playing the drums at a mere three years of age in the church choir. He later developed a love for jazz. Stylistically, he has been heavily influenced by Lee Morgan, Sonny Rollins and Esperanza Spalding, among others.

He cites numerous supporters. “I credit my aunt, Cecelia Woodis, and uncle, Philbert Anderson, for pushing me as an artist and teaching me the importance of consistency. Other individuals who have made a difference in my life are my elementary and middle school band teacher, Janet Isham, and the faculty of Eastern New Mexico University: John Kennedy, Dustin Seifert and Chris Beaty.”

The Delbert Anderson Trio’s first album, Manitou, has received multiple Indigenous awards in New Mexico and on the West Coast. The album has also been recognized by NPR and Sirius Radio as Today’s New Jazz. One of the earliest collaborations performed by DDAT was the track “Roadrunner.” Anderson recalls, “I composed [that] piece for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert competition. The trio performed it with hip hop lyricist Def-i. It received an NPR Top Ten Honorable Mention. It has also been featured on Yahoo and as the best Native American jazz music piece.”

The album has also been recognized by NPR and Sirius Radio as Today’s New Jazz. One of the earliest collaborations performed by DDAT was the track “Roadrunner.” Anderson recalls, “I composed [that] piece for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert competition. The trio performed it with hip hop lyricist Def-i. It received an NPR Top Ten Honorable Mention. It has also been featured on Yahoo and as the best Native American jazz music piece.”

The DDAT sound is uniquely its own. Anderson attributes that to their relative isolation. Their removal from the din that can sometimes come from working in a larger city has helped them focus more on developing their own sound. As he sums it up, “We’re not trying to copy anyone else. Or, trying to incorporate ideas that we heard. Everything is just strictly staying here. All the ideas that come forth are emerging from this area. So, we’re using it to our advantage and coming up with a unique sound.”

The band members were as excited as their fans for the release of their debut CD. Anderson contrasts the experience with the making of his first CD, Manitou, as the Delbert Anderson Trio. He says the first recording “was actually made onstage at the Totah Theater, Farmington, N.M. We did a live performance. And, it was basically push record and stop. We didn’t get to edit anything or do anything special with it.”

This time, he says, the DDAT CD was made in an actual studio. “We were waiting for a while. It took a while, but we got it done.”

There is no greater testament to a musician’s skill than his connection with the crowd. Lucero recognized DDAT’s “aha moment” when “we played at Marble Brewing and I saw two floors of people jamming and enjoying the songs and solos and dancing. It’s one thing to rely on cultural influences and build an audience. But it’s a completely different thing to cross genres and cultures and stand on our own, as artists, rather than cultural clichés.”

Fans and potential fans alike can find these groups at - American Indian Magazine - Smithsonian's National Museum of The American Indian

"Def-i Offers Up New EP – ‘Deserted Oceans’ (Produced by Ariano)"

Continuing from the 2019 release of Dream Trails, Def-i teams up once again with veteran SoCal producer and artist Ariano on Deserted Oceans. Titled after a clever twist on each artist’s territory—Def-i from the deserts of New Mexico, and Ariano from the beaches of the West Coast—the album showcases how they’ve evolved in their craft both individually and collaboratively.

Deserted Oceans is Def-i in his prime; his lyrics are purposeful, and his wordplay is laden with thoughtful metaphors. His stylings are multi-faceted, flowing effortlessly from rapid-fire bars to a slowed down cadence. His message speaks truth to power, underpinned with hope and positivity.

The production throughout the eight track effort is moody, raw and heavy with bass. Ariano manages to underscore his hard-hitting production with an ethereal quality that lays a solid foundation for Def-i to—as Ariano puts it—“rap his ass off.”

Deserted Oceans brings together talent from around the country. With features from Atlanta’s T.R.3, and Cali’s own, LDontheCut, Josh Dominguez and Ami Kim, to visuals from the Memphis-based visual artist Nosey42. Also featured are the New Mexico-based violinist Sage Cornelius, and poet, writer, artist, Tanaya Winder. Deserted Oceans is available now through all digital retailers and streaming platforms via Popular Nobody LLC, and can be streamed right here in its entirety, courtesy of RESPECT. - Respect Magazine

"SONIC REDUCER - Album Review"

Def-i is a mature rapper with a toolbelt that is as complex as it is complete. Dude’s new album Dream Trails gives solid indications of that condition from the magical musical flowering of the first track, “High Hopes,” a work that mixes up laconic strummed snippets of melody poured over a rapid fire confessionalism. It’s difficult but daring work, shattering the molds of what’s current in hip-hop with deft desire for change, even in the structure of the music and flow that guides a movement. On profoundly epic cruises like track six, “Help Me Breathe,” the artist slips into another dimension that is as smooth as it is otherworldly, a theme that is developed with glitchy grandeur and syncopation with an R&B inflection on the eighth track “Multiverse feat. E-Turn.” The record crests joyfully on the tenth track, “Running feat. Voice of Honey,” and then continues to ride a wave both deep and dank back to the reaches of the Earth.

Much removed from the youthful party time musings of the new, next generation of local rappers, Def-i’s journey is the authentic voice of a known poet who makes pictures of his words with music from the other side. The production on this effort is so damn good you can practically taste the tuneful instrumental choices; the vocalizing on number nine, “Keep Truth feat. Ami Kim” are easily angelic and boundlessly beatific. As the artist said, my heartbeat is increasing. - Weekly Alibi

"Best Hip-Hop Artist 2018"

Def-i grew up in Diné Bikéyah too, before moving to Burque where he proceeded to conquer hip-hop nation with his down-tempo, underground, freestyle rap, a musical thing that flows with keen social intention, calls for community action and is terrifically diggable and 100 percent organic too. Dude’s already a star the around the world, so how ’bout a little love for him here in Burque? Once again, our reader’s agreed with that contention, so here’s to that “foundation of freedom.” - Weekly Alibi

"We Are, We Are, We Are - 2019 SOMOS ABQ FESTIVAL"

In many ways the values illuminated by the SOMOS Festival are embodied in local rapper and DJ Def-i, a native Burqueño with Indigenous roots who has grown with the city in the past 10 years, providing a voice of hope and optimism to groove to while embracing a constantly shifting urban environment.

Def-i’s flavor of hip-hop is potently local, like the red chile ribs on the menu at El Modelo. It’s hot and it’s humble, buried in a sauce of experience and expectation that’s both haunting and head-clearing. Def-i can enrapture or enlighten; to haters he’ll always enrage, but his message remains one of high hopes measured against this burg’s skyline.

Weekly Alibi invited the rapper over to talk about his upcoming appearance at SOMOS. He stopped by on a Friday afternoon—after the climate change demonstration in Robinson Park—to chat.

Weekly Alibi: Lots of peeps are familiar with your flow. But for those not in the know, tell our readers something about yourself.

Def-i: For those who’ve never seen me before, I’m an MC. I love hip-hop, but I try not to be one-dimensional as far styles go.

Who are your big influences, right now?

Right now, my big influences are—because of the band I’m working with currently—from Freestyle Fellowship and Guru’s Jazzmatazz—when I heard Guru flowing over jazz music it really inspired me to work with a band. I’m working with DDAT.

In DDAT you’re known as Chris Bidtah, right?

Yeah, but I’m going to be doing more of that sort of work solo, as Def-i. Nowadays, I really like artists like Joyner Lucas, he’s a really dope artist, MC-wise, and I dig his technicality. Also Crooked I.

That’s some heavy listening, man.

Yeah, but it has me psyched for SOMOS!

What’s your new work about? What should we be listening for?

My new work ... is mostly produced by Ariano and Smoke M2D6. Their beats shifted my whole writing process just because their production is different than normal boom bap hip-hop that a lot of listeners are used to from the nineties.

That’s still a popular sound, rock the bells, eh?

I guess [my new sound] is better because it’s produced and engineered a lot better. I’ve been able to work on my songwriting skills. I’m getting more practiced. Learning to enunciate more. There’s more clarity in the new work, on all sorts of levels.

How did get involved with SOMOS?

The first time I got involved with SOMOS was the first time they put the festival together. I opened for Deltron 3030. They were the headliner. I was on tour with my buddy Wake Self and we had been opening up for Masta Ace; he got to go on right before Deltron [3030].

That’s a cool lineup, man.

Wow, it is a cool lineup! The second year, I didn’t perform, but this year they invited me to be part of it. I’m headlining the local stage, what they’re calling the civic stage. That’s an honor for me, man. - Weekly Alibi

"Diné Artist using Van's Warped Tour To Promote Water Access"

Def-i (left) poses with his brother and a poster for his clean water campaign. Def-i was recently selected for Vans Warped Tour.

One Dine artist has been scheduled on a tour with the remaining tour dates of Vans Warped Tour.
Def-i of Albuquerque is on a 14-date run with Vans Warped Tour to promote Native American hip-hop and spread awareness of bringing clean water to Native and African people.

“It is really great. I’m honored to be a part of this years Vans Warped Tour,” said Def-i in a phone interview after performing for the Warped Tour in Albuquerque. He added he is the only Native American performer on the Vans Warped Tour and has brought along a few artists in different regions of the country.

Defi-i said he first got involved with Vans Warped Tour around five years ago, starting out on its hip-hop stage, Bring It Back. Def-i said he would do four or five shows with the tour, performing and gaining his experience for years to come. - Navajo Times

"For one artist, hip-hop is a way to transcend oppression"

Christopher Mike-Bidtah, also known as Def-i, is from Shiprock and hopes to inspire young Native American hip hop artists to follow their music dreams. (Courtesy photo)


Growing up on the Navajo Nation can have its challenges. The area is very rural and in many places there isn’t much to do.

For Christopher Mike-Bidtah, also known by his artist name Def-i, hip-hop was an escape. He grew up in Shiprock and said that initially he was into poetry and being a percussionist. That is until he was handed a microphone at Floor Projections, an annual hip-hop event in Albuquerque that showcases local hip-hop talent.

“I just couldn’t stop rapping,” he said after the event.

Bidtah’s been able to make hip-hop his career and said that it’s hard to live off just his music but his passion has carried him to gig’s as far away as New York City.

“Hip hop has saved so many lives,” he said. “I feel like hip hop is definitely an escape on the rez. It plays a big role in modern times and people are highly influenced by it.”

Bidtah shares the hip-hop escape with Talon Duchendaux, a student at the University of Pennsylvania, who help create an exhibit called, “Modern Native Voices: The Medium of Hip Hop,” at Penn Museum, which will open on Saturday, March 21. - Navajo Times

"Def-i • Hip-Hop"

Def-i returns to Sister to release his new album, “Deserted Oceans”. Following 2019’s album Dream Trails, iconic New Mexico artist Def-i is preparing to release his sixth studio project, Deserted Oceans, on Friday, March 6th of this year with album release party at Sister featuring special guests Vel The Wonder aka Vel 9 (Los Angeles, CA), DDAT, T.R.3, Endz, plus more. 8pm-1am $10 advance $15 at the door. More album/single info: Def-I continues the Dream Trails magic and teams up once again with veteran SoCal producer Ariano on Deserted Oceans, dropping the first single from the project, “Gather Round” on Feb. 7th. Pre-order here: “Gather Round” is a true introduction to the EP; it’s the opening track and sets the tone for what is yet to come on the project. Backed by Ariano’s stripped down production of simple drums and an uplifting choir, Def-I effortlessly showcases his multi-dimensional MC stylings through his flawless and rapid-fire rapping. His lyrics have such intention and intelligence that when paired with the production, one can’t help but feel like they’re being lifted towards the heavens by real poetry in motion. Through seamless tempo and cadence changes, “Gather Round” showcases Def-I at his best; pure passion in his delivery of a message worth hearing. “Gather Round” is poised to be as much a visual journey as a lyrical one. With a video on the horizon and album artwork by the immensely talented Memphis-based visual artist, Nosey42, the track is primed to fully immerse the listener - Weekly Alibi

"Riding wave of success, DDAT plans rare Farmington concert this weekend"

Free performance will seek donations for local nonprofit groups
2:19 p.m. MST Dec. 3, 2019
FARMINGTON — While Delbert Anderson has made himself a fixture on the local music scene over the past couple of years, it's more than a little ironic that his band, DDAT, has all but disappeared from the Farmington area in that time.

You should always file your taxes on time even if you can't pay them
Sponsored by DISCOVER

It's not that group has been idle, nor has it gone underground. Far from it, in fact. DDAT — a jazz quartet that also incorporates elements of hip hop, funk, soul, and Native and Latin rhythms into its sound — is in the process of breaking out as a national act. Band leader Anderson hopes to showcase the band's evolution this weekend, when it performs its first full show in Farmington in more than three years.

DDAT will perform a free concert for three local nonprofit organizations, giving its local fans their first chance to see the group perform a concert since April 2016. The combo, which has flirted with a higher profile for years through appearances on NPR and exposure in, finally caught fire in the latter half of 2019, paving the way for a busy and profitable 2020.

Anderson said DDAT already has approximately 50 engagements booked next year, most of them taking place in locales scattered around the country, and is negotiating dozens more. That includes three performances in New York and two in California. The group will augment its touring schedule with the recording of a new album and film industry work, he said.

9 savings strategies to boost your finances
Sponsored by DISCOVER

The local jazz quartet DDAT has seen its national profile rise considerably over the past several months.
The local jazz quartet DDAT has seen its national profile rise considerably over the past several months.
By way of comparison, Anderson, a trumpet player who serves as an adjunct music professor at San Juan College, said the band has played only 40 to 50 shows in total over the last four years.

DDAT's quick move into the fast lane is largely the result of Anderson's ambition. Scouring the Internet a couple of years ago for new opportunities for his band, he discovered the Western Arts Alliance, a Portland, Oregon-based organization dedicated to presenting and promoting performing arts throughout the western United States and Canadian provinces.

Anderson, a Shiprock native who now lives in Farmington with his wife and four children, reached out to the group's officials and found a warm welcome. He was invited to take an active role in the organization by serving on some of its advisory committees, then he applied for and received a coveted spot in the organization's Launchpad program. Over the course of three years, Anderson and other emerging artists in the program receive technical assistance, professional development, mentoring, promotional benefits and membership in the alliance.

Much of that help takes the form of financial assistance designed to boost an artist's technological or creative capability, including the purchase of new software or recording equipment. Anderson declined to say how much money that amounted to, but he said it is a considerable amount spread out over the three years.

Are you prepared to hand over your finances to someone in an emergency?
Sponsored by DISCOVER

The members of DDAT pose for a group photo before a performance at Flushing Town Hall in Queens, N.Y., on Dec. 2.
The members of DDAT pose for a group photo before a performance at Flushing Town Hall in Queens, N.Y., on Dec. 2.
Mostly, though, the Launchpad program has put Anderson's band — which also includes vocalist Christopher Bidtah, bassist Mike McCluhan and drummer Nicholas Lucero — in front of people who can help artists take their career to another level. DDAT has taken full advantage of that exposure, delivering a well-received showcase performance in late summer before an audience of music business professionals in Los Angeles that included booking agents, management representatives, A&R people, publicists and recording industry executives.

Anderson said DDAT received 40 to 50 booking inquiries immediately after its performance, and many of those contacts bore fruit, resulting in contracts for shows around the country. As DDAT's profile has increased over the past several months, so has the size of its guarantees, Anderson said, driving up the group's income.

Among the audience members at the Los Angeles show was jazz bandleader Rodney Marsalis, cousin of jazz icons Wynton and Brandord Marsalis. Anderson said Rodney Marsalis was effusive in his praise of DDAT afterward, extending an invitation for Anderson and Lucero to join him on a short tour with his group — an opportunity Anderson hopes to take advantage of early next year.

In January, the quartet will perform at another music industry showcase in New York — essentially an East Coast version of the event it was featured at in Los Angeles — and Anderson hopes to make a similar positive impression there. If it does, the stakes likely will be raised again for a band that is experiencing its first real boom.

Farmington's DDAT receives an enthusiastic response from the audience during a Dec. 2 performance at Flushing Town Hall in Queens, N.Y., on Dec. 2.
Farmington's DDAT receives an enthusiastic response from the audience during a Dec. 2 performance at Flushing Town Hall in Queens, N.Y., on Dec. 2.
Anderson — who also serves as president of the San Juan Jazz Society, a local nonprofit organization devoted to promoting the growth of live music in the Farmington area — acknowledged that can create stress and pressure for artists, like himself, who have a family and are trying to juggle those interests with their newfound career demands. That's why he's grateful that the Launchpad program includes mentoring for personal, as well as professional issues.

"They supplied us with a music-oriented therapist, I guess you could say, who literally went through all the really hard questions with us — 'Is your wife OK when you're gone? How much money do you need to be making to make up for being gone all this time?' " Anderson said. "I got really lucky I ran into a program that really considers your family and where you're at in life. They were really concerned about taking care of me first."

Another sign of the WAA's commitment to its artists, Anderson said, is the fact that DDAT has been assigned a mentor who will visit Farmington this week to attend the concert and to spend time with the members of DDAT in their home environment.

"I hope he sees we're very caring and generous individuals who love our community," Anderson said. "And we want to show him that although our community is very small, we're still a world-class act and can hang with the bigger guys. We're kind of a Cinderella story."

Don't just spring clean your house, tidy up your finances, too
Sponsored by DISCOVER

DDAT performs at 7 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Totah Theater, 315 W. Main St. in Farmington. Admission is free, but donations are encouraged, and all proceeds will benefit Hustle Kindness, Navajo Ministries and the Basin Good Neighbor Foundation. Call 505-327-4145. - The Daily Times


                         Deserted Oceans by Def-i (Produced by Ariano)


 Iconic New Mexico hip hop artist Def-i drops his highly anticipated sixth studio project, Deserted Oceans.
Continuing 2019’s Dream Trails magic, Def-i teams up once again with veteran SoCal producer and artist Ariano on Deserted Oceans. Titled after a clever twist on where each artist hails from (Def-i from the deserts of New Mexico, Ariano from the beaches of the West Coast), the album is an elevated version of the artistry fans have come to expect from Def-i.
 Deserted Oceans showcases Def-i in his prime - His lyrics are purposeful, and his wordplay nuanced, laden with intelligent metaphors and double entendre. His MC stylings are multi-faceted, flowing effortlessly from rapid-fire bars to a slowed down cadence. His message speaks naked truth to power, underpinned with hope and positivity.
  The production on the album is moody, raw and heavy with bass. Ariano manages to underscore his hard-hitting production with an ethereal quality that lays a solid foundation for Def-i to – as Ariano puts it – “rap his ass off.”
 Deserted Oceans brings together coast-to-coast talent, with features from Atlanta rapper T.R.3 and visuals from Memphis-based visual artist, Nosey42, from New Mexico-based violinist Sage Cornelius and poet, writer and artist Tanaya Winder, to West Coast artists Ami Kim, Josh Dominguez, DJ LDontheCut, and of course, Ariano.


STREAM Deserted Oceans by Def-i

                                HELP PROMOTE: COPY & PASTE FOR TWITTER
#DesertedOceans by @Def_I
prod by @arianomusic 



Hailing from Albuquerque, NM, Def-i represents the Diné Nation. His performance styles range wide from Hip-Hop and Spoken Word to Contemporary Native-American Acoustic. Emerging from the Underground Indy rap circuit, his eclectic repertoire of talent has allowed him to single-handedly perform regularly throughout the country solo or alongside his newly formed live-fusion quartet ‘DDAT.’ With multiple national tours and festivals under his belt, his recent ground breaking 2019 solo project ‘Dream Trails’ received much deserved fanfare & launched him into featured appearances on internationally recognized segments such as Eminem’s XM radio station Shade 45, Sway In The Morning on Shade 45, BBC News, AJ+, National Public Radio (NPR), Vans Warped Tour, RT America, HipHopDX, PBS, Respect Magazine, and a plethora of other Hip-Hop outlets. Def-i was also voted as Best Hip-Hop Artist of 2018 by Weekly Alibi and recently travelled to Nigeria as an Artist-Educator/U.S. Hip-Hop Ambassador in part of Next Level USA's residency program.

Complimenting his diverse musical skill set, Def-i is also an experienced youth workshop provider, active community member, and cultural ambassador. Throughout the past decade, he has worked with many Universities, Colleges, High Schools, Junior High Schools, and Elementary schools teaching creative writing, song recording, the art of beat making, and the fundamentals of Hip-Hop culture. Aside from his dedication to Hip-Hop education, he has also helped environmental movements as an activist in the indigenous community. With the aid of respected artists such as Taboo of Academy Award winning group ‘Black Eyed Peas’ plus other Dream Warriors, Def-i helped raise over 1.8 million dollars for the legal defense of Water Protectors in Standing Rock via live concert fundraising. From years of hard work, selling thousands of CDs hand to hand, building an understanding of the nature of a music grind, Def-i has cemented his name as one of our generations representatives of MC'ing. 

Band Members