Mogli the Iceburg’s Biracial Anthem ‘You Can’t Hold Me Down’ Challenges How We View Race
In the last couple of years, race has come to the forefront of many discussions, and Christian hip-hop is no exception. The topics of black and white tensions have become themes of albums and singles, sparking reaction and arguments from people of all walks. However, one group has been notably silent – those who are neither. Their issues aren’t so “black and white.”
“Black kids called me a cracker
White kids called me a beaner
Ate lunch in school alone
Cause I didn’t fit in with either
They told me that I can’t rap
Did you forget your ethnicity?”
Mogli the Iceburg is one of these racially in between guys. He can identify with multi-ethnicities, feel accepted and unaccepted, and look out of place all within five minutes of walking in a diverse neighborhood.
Mogli is biracial.
His dad is mostly German with a bit of Mexican and his mother was mostly Mexican with a little bit of Western European. So while that makes him at least half Mexican, and half white, he doesn’t really appear to be either.
“My father has Mexican in him but he’s very white looking. I have his last name and I’m tall,” said Mogli, who’s actual last name is Horenburg. “People label me as Middle Eastern because they see my darker complexion and beard. Also, I’m head and shoulders taller than my Mexican family.”
“I still get misidentified, some think that I speak Arabic
Heard it all before from towel-head down to a terrorist
The butt of all your jokes
I got my hand up on a bomb trigger
But sometimes it gets brutal
‘Boy you just a stupid sand n*****’”
The Rapzilla 2017 Freshman likes to say people in his situation have “elastic ethnicity.”
“Depending on how I wear my hair, my facial hair, or how I dress, people will place me at totally different sides of the spectrum.”
As far as which ethnicity he embraces more, he doesn’t swing particularly either way. Growing up, he said they weren’t too multi-cultural until he got older.
“As I got older, my mom wanted to really embrace our Mexican and Latino identity more and more,” he shared. “One time we moved and my mom straight up Mexicanized the house. We painted all the colors, we took out the wallpaper and painted things bright yellow and bright red and the stucco in the kitchen.”
Unfortunately, Mogli’s mom passed right before he turned 12. He wound up living in Tennessee with his father, which was a bit of a culture shock.
“There’s no Latino influence, living with my dad who doesn’t really culturally embrace that stuff,” he said. “I’m kind of on my own little island where I don’t even necessarily fit that same cultural mold as my dad but I no longer have that influence of my mom or the cultural community. I am Mexican but I’m not Mexican, I am white, but I’m not white.”
He continued, “All my life I struggled with this and it’s only recently I discovered that I’m not white or brown. I’m what I am, and that’s cool. We shouldn’t have to feel like we should pick a side. Be an individual and be comfortable just exactly who you are.”
“After all of the years that young Mogli wore a frown
I finally learned that it’s okay that I’m not white or brown
And though the people lookin sideways drive me crazy
You can’t take my pride from me I’m cool
With the way God made me”
This way of thinking inspired Mogli’s newest single, “You Can’t Me Down.” The song aims to provide insight to how we normally think of race as a black and white issue.
Watch the video below:
“I wanted to make an anthem that those people can relate to because nobody is making music for them,” he explained. “At the same time for the people that can’t relate to that, I just want to help broaden people’s perspectives at how complex and non-binary issues of racial identities are.”
He continued, “I’m white but not white…people don’t know how to identify it. ‘So what are?’ Everything is so racially charged and with a political aspect to it and we are talking about it like it’s a binary issue. Just white people and black people, but if we’re honest, there are so many people that don’t have a strong ethnic identity and there’s nobody that’s speaking on that. There’s nobody that’s being a voice to that. I personally feel strongly about that. We have to address certain kinds of realities when it comes to race and ethnicity if we are ultimately going to reach racial progress to the point of true racial reconciliation.”
“By the way you react
I can tell that your hatred intact
You called me dirty, uneducated, illegal in fact
Went to talk to Black Lives Matter
And I said Latinos do too
And they told me
Check your white privilege, boy
This is not about you”
It was important for “You Can’t Hold Me Down” to be simple in the way it can be digested. Mogli wanted everyone to hear it and understand the message clearly, but also know he has rap ability.
Breaking down the production for You Can't Hold Me Down
— Mogli the Iceburg (@MoglitheIceburg) March 5, 2017
He also wanted the beat to have that essence of hip-hop sound. Mogli approached the video the same way.
“Obviously and aesthetically you have the urban decay. Some of the angles where I’m standing in this broken down apocalypse…there’s an ambulance, high angles, reminiscent of big budget videos in the 90s,” he said.
Mogli actually does videos for a living, so he was able to conceptualize and edit the whole thing. One of the cooler aspects of the visual is when he is seen floating in the air.
“I’m like you know what, I’m going to make myself actually levitate. I’m going to literally say, ‘You know what? You Can’t Hold Me Down’.”
“You Can’t Hold Me Down” is just the beginning for Mogli and his fellow indie tribe. artists nobigdyl. and Jarry Manna. Over the next six months or so, expect to see this crew of artists being very aggressive with music.
“I still have an album to drop, Jarry Manna still has an album to drop, and eventually we are working on a collective indie tribe. EP [projected late 2017],” he revealed. “God is really blessing us. Keep us in your prayers for wisdom and discernment with a lot of amazing opportunities coming up.”
Read part one with Mogli the Iceburg where he talks about music strategies, his name, and trying to change how we consume music here.