Jhon Ramos (Jota Ramos) is a Columbian singer, leader and composer who uses creativity as a means of social activism. We sat down with the founder of Haga Que Passe and reflected upon everyday situations, lower social classes, native people and their lifelong dream of gaining freedom and lasting peace, but most importantly, upon the meaningful impact of music on the life in the districts.
The band Haga Que Passe is meant to leave a positive and inspirational message to those who listen to it. We hope that the following interview will do the same.
Fair Play: Holla, Jota. Como Estas, or how are you?
Jota: Estoy bien, estoy vivo y cantando sobre la libertad.
I am terrific. I am alive and singing about freedom.
Fair Play: Please, introduce yourself to our audience in a few words. Who you are. What you do and what do you love. Jota: I am a social activist. I decided to part from the war and slavery offered by the Colombian government to young people from afro-communities; I have been apart from all of this to resist and use Rap as a social transformation instrument, transmitting the realities of my people in my songs.
I love living in collectivity and composing songs.
Fair Play: Where are you right now? Tell us a little bit about your searching asylum in Spain and how JM Spain helped you in all this process.
Jota: At this moment I am living in Spain. I had to come here with my wife and son because I was threatened to death by the Colombian paramilitaries.
I am now making part of a temporary protection program for defensors of human rights of Amnesty International. This program lasts for just one year. JM Spain has offered us a working contract for 2020 to allow us to stay more time in Spain. Also, in the summer of this year, JM has hired our musical group to give concerts during Ethno - this support has been really helpful for us.
Fair Play: How do you feel there? Let's talk about your project, Haga Que Pase. Your band’s name is quite optimistic. Is this the message you want to send to the world?
Jota: We want to transmit a message, we want people to identify their abilities, and we hope they use them to fulfill their dreams and ideas. We want them to work in collectivity, to take care of their environment and spend their time in things that generate real happiness.
Fair Play: What is the meaning of ”la música del barrio or hip hop del pueblo”, in your opinion?
Jota: “Town's Hip hop” is the name we have given to the music of the musical group Haga Que Pase. With our music, we generate a space that encounters hip-hop and traditional rhythms of the communities we represent.
Fair Play: What is the primary purpose of music? Is it only a mean of having fun, or does it hide more than that?
Jota: The purpose of our songs is to make vulnerable people listen and tell them stories. We want to contribute to the formation of critic thoughts in new generations.
Fair Play: What drove you to create Haga Que Pase? Did you wake up one day with the idea in mind or was that something you wondered upon for a while before it happened?
Jota: In 2008 we initiated a resistance process called “Mi fink” with a couple of families in traditional houses in Villa Rica, and we didn’t want to sell it to Ingenios of Caña sugar.
To encourage this process, I wrote a song called Haga Que Pase. This song has turned into the anthem of this peasant process and afterwards taken as the name of the musical group.
(The phrase Haga Que Pase comes from my grandmother because she used to tell me that if I want to achieve something in life, I should “Make it happen”).
Fair Play: In 2018 you won the Copenhagen Denmark Fair Play anti-corruption competition with the song “Junto Ganamos”. How did that make you feel?
Jota: A massive feeling of happiness because my music has come to attention abroad so they could stop and listen to the clamour of vulnerable communities.
Fair Play: What do you wish for the children in the “barrio”, the district you were born in?
Jota: All dreams can be fulfilled, find the capacity of each one and wake up every day to live and to fight for them and make them happen.
Fair Play: What are your plans regarding Haga Que Pase? Do you intend to write any new songs? What about other projects signed Jota? What do you want to do shortly?
Jota: With Haga Que Pase we are still working on transmitting our music around the world, for next year we want to offer more workshops of Hip-hop for children and teenagers in Villa Rica, the place where I was born and in other communities.
At this moment, I am writing a new album. I hope to record it at the end of this year and launch it in April 2020.
For the future, we are working to strengthen the qhagamishelwano network, a network of rap singers coming from Africa and also afro-rap singers born in Latino America.