Native American hip-hop musician reflects on depression and substance abuse

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Supaman invited audience members to create a beat, blending each person’s distinct, recorded noise. – Photo by Renee Umsted

A Crow hip-hop artist educated the TCU and Fort Worth community about the lives of modern-day Native Americans Monday night.

Supaman performed as part of TCU’s Native American and Indigenous Peoples Day Symposium. About 350 students, faculty, staff, alumni and Native Americans from the community came to the concert; which featured a musical performance by members of the Soar Beyond Youth Mentor Organization. The event was held in the Brown-Lupton University Union ballroom.

A committee made of faculty, staff and alumni from TCU selected Supaman because he is recognized in his field and uses a form of music not typically associated with Native Americans, said Scott Langston, a professor of religion at TCU.

Supaman, whose real name is Christian Takes Gun Parrish, sang about many topics such as suicide prevention. 

The suicide rate among American Indians and Alaska Natives has been increasing since 2003, according to the CDC. Data collected from 2003-14 show that more than 35 percent of suicides occurred in people ages 10-24.

Parrish said his father and older brother committed suicide.

He urged people during the songs and throughout the event to be drug and alcohol free. Parrish said he has chosen to live a sober life after growing up in a household with two alcoholic parents.

Christian Takes Gun Parrish has won several music awards. – Photo by Jack Wallace

Parrish explained that his songs reflect his Christian religious beliefs and express hope, love and respect for all people. He led prayers at the beginning and conclusion of the concert, one of them in the Apsáalooke language.

TCU alum, Jason Lester, said his wife- a Native American who helped organize the event- has told him that many people consider Native Americans to be a part of the past but do not realize they are living in the present.

“They deal with modern issues and their cultures and their cultural knowledge is relevant to many of the modern issues that we face today,” said Langston. “They have something to say if we will listen.”