Genre Bender

Activist Rapper + Ephemeral Revolutionary: Yirim Seck and D.K. Pan

Photos by Kelly O

Yirim Seck landed on my radar last year, when the longtime Central District resident, activist and artist released the song “We Call It (Murder).” Seck had grown weary of explaining police killings of Black people to his young daughters and penned the song as a kind of salve; its attendant video is an important document of Seattle’s Black Lives Matter movement. Together they express the ongoing frustration of a community facing persistent institutional racism. Seck is a deft lyricist with a patient, pliable flow—a style that lends ably to his innate curiosity and social awareness. He also participated in last fall’s Power: From the Mouths of the Occupied, a theatre piece by Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors.

The last we heard from D.K. Pan was after the enigmatic, multi-media artist had returned from a West Coast sojourn to install an experimental film at the Frye Art Museum. Pan is a polymath and a shapeshifter, a Butoh dancer and performance artist, filmmaker and philosopher, soft spoken and mischievous. His long history in the arts world involves as much revolutionary theory as late-night debauchery. His past projects include Bridge Motel in Fremont, the Tubs Memorial Project in the U-District and Time Is Memory, which involved skywriting a poem. 

Together Seck and Pan are working on a mashup of video projection and live performance.

“We decided to ride with the theme of presence. Being here right now,” Seck says.

Seck says he’ll be in the spotlight—rapping alongside live musical accompaniment, most likely West African-style percussion—while Pan is pulling the levers behind the scenes, on-stage but out of the frame.

“D.K. is sold on not being in front of it,” Seck says. Instead Pan will toggle video of interviews, dialog, musical performances, all timed to Seck’s live vocals. Both admit the technical precision is daunting.

“This is my first time doing this sort of thing,” Seck says. “I don’t wanna treat this as just another show of me performing hip-hop. Usually as an MC, we just talk shit and it’s good. I want this to be more interactive than that.”

Perhaps, says Pan, that includes a dance party as grand finale.

Only one way to find out. The artists reveal their special collaboration at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute for three performances only, Friday, March 3 through Sunday, March 5. Get your tickets here!

Learn more about our other Genre Bender 2017 pairs: 
Dani Tirrell and Mary Anne Carter
Molly Sides and No Touching Ground
HATLO and Shontina Vernon
Ben Hunter and Tracy Rector