Comedic Conscious Controversial Creative and Captivating Rasta Hip Hop That Lightens the Heart.
Based in Chicago, Illuminati Congo’s sound dissolves the barrier between conscious and unconscious, reggae and hip hop, and light and dark, all the while maintaining a light-hearted, playful, childlike and comedic musical uniqueness. This coupled with Jahn’s global travels teaching yoga as well as his penchant for writing books covering such myriad subject matter as tantra, gnostic Rastafarianism, health, and healing, and alchemy makes Illuminati Congo one of the most interesting musical outfits on the scene.
Illuminati Congo performances can only be described as electric, and Jahn has spent the last four years touring the U.S., the Caribbean, and Australia. Illuminati Congo is a regular collaborator with both local and national acts, and has played and recorded with Lee “Scratch” Perry, KRS-One, Pretty Lights, Dead Prez, Big Youth, Lutan Fyah, Digable Planets, Shabazz Palaces, Del the Funky Homosapien, Anthony B, Burro Banton, King Kong, Jahdan Blakkamoore, Perfect Giddimani, Sa-Roc, Zion I, Dj Fresh, One Be Lo, Eligh, MR Vegas and Rocker T, among others.
I had the pleasure of attending two shows in Colorado this year and sat down with Jahn to ask a few questions about the inspiration behind the music. We also discussed Cannabis and how it has played a role in the spirit of the music and in Jahn’s vocals.
“Shiva Smokin” & “I love you Mary Jane” are two songs off the latest I-Congo album that I enjoyed seeing live.
What does the name Illuminati Congo mean? How did cannabis inspire your musical flame?
Illuminati is often associated with a secretive group intent on ruling the world. This thinking can create a fear based victim mentality where people blame some external powers that be for their problems or those of the world. Natty or Nati Congo is a name for Rastafari people and especially for people with very thick dreadlocks. Illuminati Congo combines these two words with the purpose of claiming and affirming our own illumination and ability to govern our universe deliberately along with being rooted in Rastafari aka Ethiopia and Haile Selassie. This is one of many explanations of the meaning of our name.
The first time I used cannabis was with an elder Rasta bredrin and my request was that we must pray before we partake because even before I ever used it I set the intention that I will use it only for prayer and healing. Ever since then it has been an integral part of my spiritual practices that involve all the elements. I learned how to make the chalice of sacred rasta pipe when I was a teen. Finding a person who could teach me in Jamaica was like my own personal quest for the holy grail. My voice, breath control, lyrics and creative ways of reaching more people are all enhanced by my sweet love Devi, Goddess in the form of cannabis.
Song: I love you Mary Jane…you name so many amazing strains. What’s your favorite?
My favorite strains at the moment are top quality Girl Scout cookies, Hindu Kush, Cherry Pie, and Jack Herer.
In regards to your breathing workshops; How do your breathing techniques play into the cannabis consciousness and your personal evolution as an artist?
Cannabis increases my breathing capacity and my breathing techniques enhance my high. Using breathing tools coupled with partaking not only opens me up to psychedelic states it also helps me clear any trauma or accumulation of stagnant heavy energy.
As an artist the conscious Connected Breathing techniques that I use help stimulate my creativity, will power and help me adapt and relax during challenging situations. As an artist I find it helpful have a free built in power available on demand for getting high, clear, invigorated, relaxed or opening my heart.
My confidence is strengthened knowing I have the breath of life to use for so many various purposes.
How does your energy impact the yogic, organic, regenerative consciousnesses movement in Cannabis and the world as a whole?
I feel my ideas offer a spiritual perspective on cannabis that is often overlooked or downplayed. The medical benefits may be enhanced if we foster a greater spiritual awareness of the plant. In my findings, indigenous and ancient People have used cannabis as a sacrament or communion with spirit. I also primarily use herbs for this reason. Prayers and chants are prerequisites for lighting up the chalice or sparking a spliff. By consistently upholding meditation, yoga and giving of thanks while offering cannabis, we become more open to the living wisdom of ganja. I have been sharing cannabis music charitably in Chicago for the past decade at the Illinois Norml global cannabis march every May.
Who were your top 5 influences, musically and consciously?
My top influences musically are probably
Bob and the Wailers
(but that list revolves.)
Consciously it is probably
Robert Anton Wilson
(But once again, I feel inspired by many entities besides these)
Listen and purchase music by Illuminati Congo at https://illuminaticongo.com
Article written by Kat King & Jahn Hooks