"Musical Medicine or Medical Medicine"

by Jennifer Cruise Palmer

"Aloha Ke Akua” is a very upbeat and positive song created by Nahko and Medicine for the People. If you were to listen very closely to the lyrics of the song and even read them, you’d hear that there was a lot more to the song than meets the ear. I personally enjoy this song, and other songs on their album for many, many reasons and find that there are tons of meanings that each one of you can find within this song.

The band Nahko and Medicine for the People – create music in which is supposed to be positive, inspiring and comforting to those who listen, “moving the musical medicine around the world in hurry”. The backbone of the song is basically in the title and lyric, “Aloha Ke Akua -  meaning breath of life and the love of God.  Another word giving the title strength is kuleana meaning ones’ personal responsibility. Throughout the song, the band sings to live in the love and grace of God in more than just way, referring to living life with a purpose and achieving it with a positive effect, “…And in this existence I’ll stay persistent and I’ll make a difference…”. The song also refers to how small we are as people and more to this world than just us – so it is important to respect other living creatures in this world, such as each other.

This song was released in 2013, when modern day technology was at its peak, still continues to grow and advance. The songs’ overall function is fulfilled: to get people like you and I informed about the catastrophes going on in the world. Right now in this day and age many corrupt and terrible things are happening around the world; poaching, torture, bombings, killing, war, sickness, starvation, displacement and deforestation. Not that these events haven’t occurred before, but now we have advanced technology that spreads this information, making the world more informed about the disasters happening around the world – which is what makes the release date of “Aloha Ke Akua” so important. Sure, you may ask, “Why does this matter? It doesn’t pertain to me.” Well, with pain and sorrow all over the world and in the United States, you should care to some extent. This song has the chance to even heal you in some way. It doesn’t have to simply deal with global phenomenon’s. “Medicine for the mind and soul” says Steve Leggit-Rovi, commenting on the band’s music. In an interview with the Huffington post Nahko Bear even explained that he would love for Nahko and Medicine for the People to be a “catalyst for big environmental and social change”.

I believe the man who created this song, Nahko Bear, is legitimately someone who understands the song in whole, after all he created it. Not only that, but Nahko is a spiritual person who deeply appreciates nature and connects with it. By connect, I don’t mean he lives under a rock and eats dirt. That is a tad ludicrous. (Although he IS dating Shailene Woodley and she does, however, eat dirt/clay). But instead of eating dirt – not that there’s anything wrong with it, I’m sure it has tons of minerals, ha-ha get it? – he is able to connect because he recently discovered his identity as a sixth generation Native American, found his birth mother which helped him find himself and gave him more insight on how important and pure nature is, and to appreciate it. In his interview with the Huffington Post he was asked how he can protect himself from getting swept up in the “fame machine”, he responded with “taking time to be quiet and be with the ocean and with the old language of the lands and the plants” and explaining that once he feels like he isn’t doing enough activist based work he will ‘put himself back in his place’.  In a way that we can relate to the song is simply realizing the importance of life and by recognizing the beauty within it at each waking moment. I am not saying that every moment of your life you need to devote all your thinking into all aspects of the world, but rather think about your actions before you do something that can cause damage to other living things. Such as throwing trash out your car window while driving down a highway, being wasteful of your food at dinner or bullying someone who can’t help him/herself with the situation he/she is in. With growing population, we need to be conscience of our footprints we are leaving on this earth.

This point is shown throughout the visual, slow paced music video. A woman is featured by herself (with a Native American tribe featured a couple of times) in many different, beautiful places, with many different, beautiful animals. Her kindness to these creatures gives you an idea as to how gentle nature can be, which is one of the key points Nahko and Medicine for the People are trying to get across with this song, and their art in general.

When you first listen to “Aloha Ke Akua” you’re like, “Hell yeah, Preach!” Then you really begin to listen to it and understand the lyrics, and think “Oh wow, this is deep”. You learn to see how and where Nahko is coming from when he is singing this song, and with the help of the scenes in the video. You also begin to recognize why respect is an important attribute to have and to give because it effects everything you come across. The faster paced version and slower paced version of the song helps you to understand the song because you can visually see the love Nahko and Medicine for the People have for the creatures and places of this world all through the lyrics and video in just this one song. If you were to take time to listen to his other songs, the first thoughts you have aren’t going to be the ones where you think you can get into it -unless you’re really open-minded. Some of you may not entirely like every song, I don’t and that may be because I cannot relate on whatever topic he is singing about, but I do like the meaning that he puts into his songs.

Overall, this song is for was anyone, really. More or less, the people who are in an emotionally ‘bad spot’, want to be healed, inspired or see that it gets better; tend to like this music more. Referring back to the Huffington post interview, he says he creates this music for those who are home free, abandoned, and for the vagabond people out there; it gives them a family though music. He feels like as long as anyone is listening, then they can relate somehow, being a personal level because its personal stories with real people or on a topic they care about. And because anywhere in the world there is at least one person who is experiencing corruption and evil, it makes this song relatable to just about any person willing to listen. Additionally, it’s for those who want to be confident that there to might a change in the world and a change in the direction it’s going in.