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How Canto Latino emcee Pinqy Ring Creates Connections in Chicago and Beyond Through Hip-Hop

Earlier this year, one of our very own alumni, rapper and cultural ambassador for hip-hop Pinqy Ring, was named Chicago Reader’s Best Hip-Hop Artist. We’re excited to welcome her back to collaborate with our singers and give them a chance to see where music can take them while expanding their own skill set in an authentic way.

Pinqy Ring will serve as our emcee for Canto Latino: Creando Mole, a program that brings together singers from every level of our programs in Pilsen to celebrate Chicago’s proud Latin American heritage. We caught up with Pinqy Ring to find out what she’s up to this fall, how her time in Uniting Voices impacts her work as a cultural ambassador for hip-hop and the importance of lifting up the next generation of music makers.

Uniting Voices: Congratulations on being named Chicago Reader's Best Hip-Hop Artist! What does an honor like that mean to you?

Pinqy Ring: It really means the world to me, especially as a born-and-raised Chicagoan, as well as a Latina and a woman in hip-hop. Oftentimes as performers, we don't get our flowers until it's too late to smell their scent. My journey hasn't been easy, or without its difficulties, so as someone who has taken a non-traditional approach to being a musician to be recognized for all of my labor and the way I've brought my whole self to my artistry is really affirming and inspiring.

UV: You also serve as a cultural ambassador for hip-hop. How do the values you learned during your time in Uniting Voices impact that work?

PR: The way that Uniting Voices honored and appreciated other cultures (one of my first performances with them as a youth was in a self-made kimono!) really helped to inform my understanding of the world, and impacted my global hip-hop work as well. The idea of working together as a team for one similar end goal was also a value that came in handy for my hip-hop diplomacy work. Working overseas with hip-hop communities is powerful, but the fact that we get to go as a team of hip-hop practitioners, and learn from those communities while we teach, makes the experience one that is unforgettable for all parties involved.

UV: In October, you'll be giving a TedxChicago performance. Can you give us a sneak preview of what that's going to look like?

PR: This is probably one of the coolest things I can be doing on the 50th anniversary of hip-hop! Celebrating their theme of "We Dare," I will be performing at TEDxChicago with my band, bringing Chicago hip-hop to the forefront and celebrating the resilience of human beings who dared to be different and dared to dream. I can't say much, but I can say it will be epic and inclusive of youth voices and very wepa!

UV: This is your second time returning to host the Uniting Voices event Canto Latino, and performed at Paint the Town Red. Why do you think it's important to collaborate with the next generation of young leaders? What are you most excited for?

PR: The youth are the answer, and it can't get more real than that (and them)! When I think of my younger self, I see all of the ways I could have been changed by mentorship, platform and inclusion. Oftentimes we become what we needed when we were younger, and it's important to collaborate with the next generation of young leaders so we can lift them up to the heavens like they deserve, and show them a manifestation of what their dreams can look like in real time.

I am excited for all of the performances, but also to celebrate Mexican culture! I have always had a strong affinity for my Mexican hermanos, hermanas and hermanxs because of how they uplifted me and accepted me, so I'm looking forward to them being centered like they deserve.

UV: Why do you think it's meaningful to celebrate the Latin American cultural heritage of the city of Chicago?

PR: When we think of Chicago, we think of a beautiful melting pot of cultures. None of that would be possible without the contribution of Latine people to this city. It's important to celebrate our heritage so we don't forget where we came from, and so we can acknowledge the mountains our ancestors moved so we can live in our truth today. When we are able to see ourselves represented and celebrated, it gives us permission to be comfortable in our authenticity and proud of our cultural heritage.

UV: Who is a young and upcoming Latine artist that Chicagoans should have on their radar?

PR: One young and upcoming Latine artist folks should have on their radar is a Boricua woman emcee named Linda Sol! I love her gritty voice, her pen is pushed beautifully, and she is the epitome of talent, intelligence and dope emceeing. Make sure you check her out!

UV: Finally, why should everyone come out to Canto Latino to celebrate with us?

PR: You should come out to celebrate because it is going to be a great time for everyone! There's something about the Latine solidarity at Canto Latino that is like church—it soothes your soul. You should also come out because I'll be there (obvi) and so you can support our future generation of Latine music makers and culture bearers in Chicago!

Join Pinqy Ring, singers from every level of Uniting Voices programs and special guest artists at Canto Latino: Creando Mole on September 30 at Harrison Park!