Prayers’ “Mexica” Video is a Fierce Anti-Colonial Manifesto

Prayers have been one of the rarer cultural products to come out of the U.S.-Mexico border. Nothing about their background or visual aesthetic suggests congruity, but they’ve incorporated these contradictions into their work in an almost seamless and natural way. Yet for all the talk of cholos and goths and cholo goths, the Sherman Heights-Tijuana duo have never delved too deeply into the realm of identity politics. Until now, that is.

With “Mexica,” both the music and the oneiric black-and-white short film that accompanies it refer directly to an elusive pre-Hispanic past.

“It’s about decolonizing the mind,” said frontman Rafael Reyes in a phone interview with Remezcla. “I was on a journey of reconnecting with my roots.”

Its release is certainly timely, not only in that it very deliberately coincides with Indigenous People’s Day – the anti-colonial spin on the holiday dedicated to that one asshole – but also given the current climate of hostility that exists in right-wing circles (aka that other asshole).

“The word Mexican has been turned into something dirty,” says Reyes. “Our history has been lost.”

With “Mexica,” Reyes and his partner embark on a search for identity, one that harkens all the way back to a burning Tenochtitlán in 1492 and lands them straight in Sherman Heights circa 2016. The video itself is meant to mirror Reyes’ spiritual trek, from a colonized mind to a more enlightened and empowered consciousness.

“A lot of people don’t know that we come from a great civilization,” adds Reyes. “I want to empower my people! Let everyone know that we have our own rich history, like everyone else!”

Though the decolonial themes certainly chart new waters for the band, it remains to be seen if they are merely a one-off or if, in fact, they will bleed into their future work. Given the facile treatment that such issues often get in musical forms, one would certainly hope they do. Identity politics are tricky, folks.

“Mexica” is part of an upcoming EP titled Baptism of Thieves. A release date is yet to be announced.