- A Note on Code Switching: "Making a living as an artist in Canada is a blessing. We have one of the largest budgets for public art in the world. That being said, access to funds for artists of the recent diaspora comes with a certain discomfort in terms of representation. There is always a looming impulse (or pathology) towards 'being accepted'. In the spirit to break from those habits, whilst remaining prudent for future business, I've written two bios, one for your heart, the other for the industry always asking for a pic and a bio.
Who Am I?
I am of the children of immigrants. An Immigrant. Displaced in the budding years of my life, I've always experienced myself in two places, always in the betweens of things. I am Ajmaq, the owl and the darkest part of the night, I am Kat', the web of gathering and relations, the patience to love and be loved in times of war. I am a descendant of the Mesoamerican Pipil peoples of Cuzcatlan, Izalco, and the Lenca peoples of the Rio Lempa, modern day El Salvador. I am the dysphoria of migration, the innocence after transgression, the purity after contamination. I am from where worlds end, and life goes on.
I am a practitioner of Hip Hop Culture. I teach its principles and practice its tenets, including being first and foremost an MC, but a producer, engineer, Dj, filmmaker and I've been known to cypher. The 5th element: Knowledge, involves my facilitation experience in a wide array of issues all around issues of education, social justice, cultural inclusion and the re-instillation of a love ethic in all aspects of public life. I am a farmer, an ally, a firestarter, a fireman.
---Long Copy and Paste Bio of things I've done:
"Sergio Guerra, stage name Cheko Salaam, is a Salvadorian-born emcee, producer and poet based in Ottawa, Canada. In the past year he has released a slew of projects, starting with The TAPAS album, with visceral emcee G.Grand and prolific producer Jeepz, which got them on the Bluesfest stage for the 3rd time. He is also part of Missing LInX, the 4-man hip-hop-spoke- word super group featuring Ottawa’s Poet Laureate JustJamaal, National Spoken Word Champion Prufrock Shadowrunner and Somali born activist poet Cannon2x. They released their sophomore album entitled “SpaXe Camels”, entirely produced by Cheko. Capping off 2018 with his solo project, “Thirst Trap Mixtape”, a project closely examining the realities of masculinity in the #metoo era.
As an arts-educator with immigrant and refugee youth, he founded and developed the Broken English Hip-Hop Program with YOCISO, a program geared towards developing healthy expression and settlement support for newcomer, immigrant and 1st generation youth. The program has supported countless youth during their transition but also gave birth to the Broken English Collective, managed entirely by youth artists. As a spoken word artist he has performed at hundreds of community events and fundraisers, exploring themes of cultural reclamation, alchemy and survival in the north. Cheko’s facilitation experience has covered themes of anti-oppression, Islamophobia, anti-bullying, hip-hop culture, diaspora identity formation, as well as being a certified MANIFEST Trainer, a workshop series geared towards young men becoming active agents against gender based violence. Cheko has also been an integral part of the House of Paint Arts and Culture Festival in Ottawa for 5 years, having had active roles as festival manager, stage manager, operations and logistics, programming and curation.
Having migrated from civil war strife as a young boy, he was influenced by the intersectional experience that was growing up in the south-side of Ottawa, a place known for having the most shawarma shops per capita in the world. Hip-Hop culture was a way to translate the vast experiences of life around him. A way to sow a thread through memory and migration. Cheko carries a remarkable ability to create music brimming with emotional clairvoyance and complexity, accompanied by a devoutly diverse and unique production style. His ambidextrous style switchining from boom bap to new age traps ensures Cheko’s continued and sustained place in the game."