Fredy Samuel Vásquez, “Snif”

El Salvador

Artistic social activism for the prevention of violence and against the criminalization of youth
Acción Urbana

He is a young rapper of San Salvador, who through the words seeks to transform the context of structural violence in which many people from his country live. It also seeks to make visible the realities of everyday life and peace as hidden violence. Couple of years ago he explained reviewing his own story: “You put any news and is full of deaths, violence. It is the image that everybody has of San Salvador, but it is a minimum part of the richness that we have here. I have seen my dad getting up at 4 in the morning because that day he had to finish a piece of furniture, and not go to sleep until we had it, at 12 in the night. I have seen my mum attached all day to a sewing machine so that between the two, the numbers would come out when I was small. All these people move the country, they are the engine, and nobody pays attention to them. As an artist, I have to make a counterbalance. ”

He approached rap from skateboarding and Grafiti. The art of the walls prompted him to look for his personal signature.

One day, he opened a book of caricatures, and found the drawing of someone who sneezed with the word “Snif”. He was 15 years old when he started to be Snif: “The name was impregnated with me and me in it,” explained the artist a couple of years ago in an article in La Gráfica Prensa. Shortly afterwards he formed the rap group Poesía Clandestina, where he participated until 2014.

Snif’s social and artistic commitment is currently being articulated through three projects. The first is his solo career, with which he premiered this 2019 the album “Fredy Krudo”. The second is the group Los Recados de la Breakout, a shared project that seeks to make monkfish with a wider musical and instrumental format. The third is the Acción Urbana Collective, which was created in 2014 after hip-hop workshops for young people in Soyapango and Cuscatancingo, and has become an independent rap seal; In Acción Urbana, Snif focuses on advising and caring for content.

» Entrevista

> How rap, and hip-hop, can contribute to the transformation of poor communities?

With the training of artists with critical thinking and class consciousness, people who from their artistic trenches dignify the communities and talk about the issues that are not part of the media agenda, but which are really important to generate changes in the places where they live.

> You affirm: “Nobody will change our communities if we don’t change ourselves.”

The social transformation is based on individual change and of what is generated when individual thinking is recomposed and evolves in the collectivity. In the community where I grew up, hip-hop has become a form of resistance against all the structural violence exerted by oligarchies, with the State as the main vehicle. Urban culture is a shelter for young people who, despite being surrounded by all sorts of violences, find in the artistic manifestations of hip-hop a tool for denunciation and a way of doing community. The codes of hip-hop (respect, brotherhood, tolerance) make you understand life from a different point of view, more collective, where there is more solidarity than competition. This is important for breaking the system and the status quo. In my community, transformation is getting through the hip-hop collective, which generates changes in families and in the environment of the people who are part of this movement.

> What are the consequences of the stigma that weighs on the poor youths of El Salvador?

They are multiple, but among the most important are the violence and the abuses of power that exerts the apparatus of the State (army and police) and the violations of human rights suffered by young people. It also highlights the loss of job opportunities and the criminalization of certain social sectors.

> What kind of violence exerts the Salvadoran state on the poor communities of the country?

It materializes in several ways: verbal, physical and psychological violence; fraudulent imprisonment; disappearances and extrajudicial executions; of gender-based violence; family persecution and intimidation; manipulation of justice, and damage to reputation and public image.

> Sometimes you have complained that only the violence that lives in the Savior is visible and that everything that is positive remains hidden. What message would you like to convey?

I’ve always complained it. I am an artist and have had to deal with this kind of stigma. For many people, especially from the media, the only interests seem to be violence and murder. They rarely come close to asking: “What’s happening artistically?”. My message would be that when they were interested in an artist, they asked him what he’s doing artistically and what his projections are. People in communities have to deal with these problems every day, and tired of it being remembered at all times. Stigmatization is a great deal, many people see gains, but not people suffering from this type of violence.

> From the 2014 you have promoted and participated in the collective Acción Urbana. Could you share some success you’re particularly satisfied with?

There are three that I would like to emphasize. The first is that Drovek, a rapper from Cuscatancingo, will perform its first album in 2019. The second is that Street Fighter Crew, a break-dance collective also of Cuscatancingo, has managed to make a name on the national scene and has won many tournaments in this discipline. Finally, Werstan Producciones is the first independent label of San Luis Mariona, in Cuscatancingo.