A few years ago, it felt like widespread diversity in American culture was well underway. We had a Black President, Darius Rucker was a chart-topping Country Music star, RuPaul became a mainstream celebrity, and Lin-Manuel Miranda made Hamilton the hottest ticket on Broadway.
Unfortunately, so much has changed in just the last three years and it seems as if everything is going in the opposite direction… which is why it’s good news that artist /activist PJ Vegas continues to keep fighting for his fellow POC.
Having made his mark as one of the first Native American R&B singers to be recognized in the industry by MTV in 2017 (he won a VMA for “Best Video with a Message”), his ascent in mainstream consciousness came at a time when cultural tolerance was beginning to sink. But he hasn’t given up and he still stands with other POC to push back against racial discrimination. His new song “Pesos” rallies for that change.
The first single off of his upcoming album SMOKE, “Pesos” honors the perseverance of his ancestors against injustice. They wanted the American Dream too… and they, like everyone in America, deserved to get it.
“I wrote the song ‘Pesos’ to tell a story about the hard-working people of color that came to this country in search of a better life,” he explains. While the current societal tenor has been practically inhuman for immigrants especially around the Southwest and in Southern California where he lives, the fact is that this struggle has not gotten any easier. It seems like all the progress POC had advanced in America has been dialed back a bit, and the plight of these people continues to be difficult. He understands this all too well that “some fall victim to the fast life and then there are others who are willing to work twice as hard for their freedom.”
While the entertainment industry may have been a bit more sympathetic to artists and musicians, the struggle is still present and he still has adversity to overcome. Thankfully, however, he’s a fighter and he continues to break down discriminactory doors, an ability that has been passed down to him genetically. His father, Pat Vegas, led the Native American charge up the charts with his popular band Redbone, the first indigenous band to ever hit the top 5 on The Billboard Hot 100. PJ holds a lot of esteem for his father who he feels has fueled his own creative spirit. “The songwriter that I admire most would have to be my father Pat Vegas,” PJ beams. “He’s the one that taught me how to tell a story through music, and I’m forever grateful.”
With this hustle to succeed deeply ingrained in his DNA, it’s no wonder he himself wants to inspire other POC to reclaim that lost progress. And while his personal path followed his father’s musical footsteps, he knows that success isn’t always a singular straight line. “I want ‘Pesos’ to inspire people to remember that there are a 100 different ways to get where you want to be in life,” he says encouragingly. “Just pick one.”
It’s this indomitable spirit that gives PJ Vegas his strength, and through his music, he hopes to spread hope to his fellow people. He’s proud of his impact, holding up his single as a rallying cry. With a fist in the air, he proclaims,[‘Pesos’ is] a real hustler’s anthem.”