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Native Sun News: Pine Ridge rapper starts hip-hop movement

The following story was written and reported by Brandon Ecoffey, Native Sun News Staff Writer. All content © Native Sun News.

K-Dawg, of Pine Ridge Reservation, hopes to start a hip-hop movement based in the heart of the Oglala Lakota Nation. IMAGES COURTESY/KYLE MESTETH

K-Dawg, the new face of Native hip-hop
By Brandon Ecoffey
Native Sun News Staff Writer

PINE RIDGE — The difficulty of breaking into the music industry is often finding a niche or something new and unique that no other possesses. For underground Oglala Lakota rapper K-Dawg it is just about living his crazy life.

Possessing a sound that evokes memories of past and often overlooked classical hip-hop artists like Prodigy of Mobb Deep and the underappreciated Alchemist, K-Dawg of Pine Ridge is redefining Native American hip-hop.

“All these guys putting out music on the rez (reservation) get caught up trying to be something they are not,” said K-Dawg. “I am doing it the right way: I am not trying to be commercial, I produce real hip-hop for those who are real fans of the art,” he added.

With a display of lyrical mastery on tracks like “Crazy Life” and “The Living” and through his straight-from-the-rez image, K-Dawg is forcing hip-hop critics and fans alike to pay notice.

Born and raised on the Pine Ridge Reservation, K-Dawg has allowed the experiences he has had on the reservation to shape his music, often referring to locations on Pine Ridge by place names that only a lifelong resident of the reservation could know or understand.

Born Kyle Mesteth, the son of Perry and Susie Mesteth of Pine Ridge, K-Dawg has quickly developed a significant following across the Pine Ridge Reservation, which is somewhat surprising considering he is an independent artist who lacks the marketing power provided by established music labels.

“I know that I am not part of a major label just yet, but not being on a label has never prevented anyone from rapping,” said K-Dawg.

The rise from a small, relatively unknown hip-hop talent to a rich and famous artist is not uncommon, however, and is in fact a well-traveled path in the rap game. Artists like DMX – who gained notice by standing on street corners rapping – having risen to stardom from humble beginnings.

K-Dawg hopes with the release of his new album, “3 Legged Dawg,” which will be ready in the early spring of 2013, he can continue to establish himself in the world of Native American hip-hop and beyond.

“‘3 Legged Dawg’ is going to be real. It isn’t commercialized, it isn’t about being positive. It is just hip-hop in the purest sense, like me,” K-Dawg said.

He has had some national exposure, having appeared on Lisa Ling’s series “Our America” on the Oprah Winfrey Network. The series gained acclaim for the documentary it did on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

“This is just the beginning; this is going to be a hip-hop revolution, with Pine Ridge being the center of it all,” he said.

For more information, contact K-Dawg at

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at

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