Festival Afloat 2023 Spotlight: a conversation with Hip Hop artist, Higher Knowledge

If you happened to catch us at Festival Afloat Vancouver on July 9, you’ll know that the show was opened by an incredible hip hop artist, HK aka Higher Knowledge! With a crowd of nearly 800 people paddling up or spreading blankets ashore we were all captivated by the stories, poetry, and teachings from HK.

(Don’t forget to vote for HK for Hip Hop Album of the Year in the Indigenous Hip Hop Awards)

Bryant Doradea (or HK) is not just a talented hip hop artist; he’s also a youth worker and a grassroots community organizer. And as he reminded the audience at Jericho from the top of the wheelhouse of the Providence “being Indigenous is being from the land, of the land. You can’t talk about helping the land and then ignore the Indigenous foster kid on the corner. Protecting youth and protecting Indigenous peoples is protecting the land.”

Indigenous to El Salvador and Chile, Doradea is ancestrally connected to the Nahua and Mayan people however, he grew up right here on the West Coast in the vibrant neighborhood of East Vancouver. His passion for music extends beyond just entertaining people; he uses his platform to make a positive impact on the lives of young people in and from foster care.

Drawing from his personal experiences in foster care and with childhood trauma, he understands the challenges that young individuals face. Now, he’s on a healing journey of his own, and he channels his strength and empathy to uplift and guide others facing a similar path.

We were lucky enough to have a conversation with Doradea about his inspiring journey as a musician and artist. Join us as we delve into his world of music, passion, and community engagement.

How did you come up with the name “HK”?

In a lot of our conventional media, there’s this glorification of unintelligence, and that everything with intelligence is associated with being a nerd, socially inept, a recluse – all of these negative connotations. I grew up in an environment where if I used a fancy word, people would think I’m being condescending. So “HK” is me bringing the idea that knowledge is important and Higher Knowledge because knowledge is something you never stop achieving, or striving for. I am constantly reaching for higher knowledge of self, culture, spirituality, trauma recovery…everything, always trying to learn.

What is your creative process like when it comes to creating music?

When I feel really extreme emotions of sadness, rage, pain or hurt – when I felt that, in the past I had really negative outlets. And I found that my creativity has become a very positive outlet. So instead of doing those things, I create. When I feel the most inspired is when I’m the most upset. The pen is like me bleeding out this poison I have inside of me. And it’s similar to talk therapy. If you don’t find a way to get it out, it consumes you and eats you like poison. So that’s my greatest inspiration. 

A lot of my songs have intense themes. I have had enough situations where people would come up to me and tell me that a song has touched them on another level. I have had some very powerful compliments from youth who are struggling and can resonate with my music.

Photo from HK - Higher Knowledge - Meta page. Cover image of his new album ‘The Knowledge of Good and Evil’

What led you to use music as a creative outlet?

I don’t think I really chose music. I don’t think anyone really chooses their creativity. This is just how the Creator made me. People know me the most for rapping, and some for poetry because I did a lot of poetry slams. But before that I am actually a writer. And I am very passionate about writing. Words are a gift that the Creator gave me. Words have been my liberator, they have paid my rent, they have been my therapy, helped me meet a lot of people. It’s been my best friend.

What got you interested in working with RAVEN for Festival Afloat?

I’ve turned down quite lucrative money and opportunities to work with people because of who and what they represent. Even this past Canada Day, I was offered a paid gig to do something at an event, but turned that down.  I love how RAVEN is in community and working with some cool Indigenous people. I love to perform and I love helping people, and this is a fundraiser for Heiltsuk Nation…so shout out to my Northern cousins. The way you have people on a boat and people swimming up, I love that! 

We are so grateful to HK and all the RAVEN supporters who gathered at Jericho Beach to fundraise for Heiltsuk Nation’s legal challenge for Festival Afloat 2023! 
Be sure to follow HK and support his work on Facebook and Instagram and Youtube!

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