Frank Waln or Oyate Teca Obmani ("Walks With Young People") is a Sicangu Lakota rapper and activist. His first solo album, Born Ready, was released in 2017, followed by The Bridge the same year. He has been awarded three Native American Music Awards and received five nominations, both individually and with his group Nake Nula Waun.
Waln grew up on the Rosebud Indian Reservation and first began listening to hip-hop as a teenager. He later graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a B.A. in Audio Arts and Acoustics, and also received a Gates Millennium Scholarship.
Waln grew up on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. He was first exposed to hip-hop after finding an Eminem CD on the side of the road. As a teenager he began listening to the genre extensively, connecting his experiences as a Native American dealing with the consequences of colonialism and genocide to the oppression suffered by African Americans. In the early 2000s he began recording with friends and family, eventually saving enough money to build a recording studio in his basement.
A Millennium Scholar, Waln studied pre-med at Creighton University for two years, with the goal of becoming a doctor. After burning out, he realized that music, rather than medicine, was how he would choose to make a difference and a living. He then moved to Chicago, studying audio design at Columbia College Chicago, and graduated in 2014.
In 2010 Waln formed the group Nake Nula Waun (I am always ready, at all times, for anything), with Thomas Schmidt, Andre Easter, and Kodi DeNoyer. They released the album Scars and Bars that year, with Waln receiving the Best Producer award at the 2010 Native American Music Awards. The band receiving the Best Hip-Hop Recording award in 2011 for the same album. Their follow-up, The Definition, was released in 2013 and was again nominated for Best Hip-Hop Recording.
Alongside his work with Nake Nula Waun, Waln also has a solo career. His single Hear My Cry, a collaboration with Cody Blackbird, was nominated for two Nammy awards in 2013 after its release, winning one; Oil 4 Blood, a 2013 song about the Keystone XL pipeline, was singled out by Policymic.com, who identified him as one of '7 First Nation Rappers Crushing Stereotypes of Indigenous People Through Music'. Along with Nataani Means, Mike "Witko" Cliff, and Inez Jasper, Waln was featured in the MTV documentary Rebel Music.
Noted for his work in opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, Waln contributes to the Dream Warriors scholarships, a project founded by Tanaya Winder (who manages Waln, Tall Paul and Mic Jordan) to provide scholarships to Native Americans looking to study and perform music.
- Scars and Bars (2011, as part of Nake Nula Waun)
- The Definition (2013, as part of Nake Nula Waun)
- Last Stand Mixtape, Vol. 1 (2013, a group album)
- Born Ready (2017)
- The Bridge (2017)
- "Doubt" (2011, as part of Nake Nula Waun)
- "Culture Shock" (2012, as part of Nake Nula Waun)
- "Swagged out Brave Heart of a Lion" (2011)
- "My Stone" (2012)
- "Oil 4 Blood" (2013)
- "AbOriginal" (2013)
- "Born on the Rez" (2014)
- "2 Live & Die On the Plains" (2015)
- "What Made the Red Man Red?" (2015)
- "Good Way" featuring Gunner Jules and Rollie Raps (2016)
- "7" featuring Tanaya Winder (2016)
- Walker, Taté (October 2014). "Music as Medicine: Life and Lyrics of Frank Waln". Native Peoples.
- Koski, Jessica (May 26, 2015). "Meet the 25-Year-Old Native Hip Hop Artist Who's Using Music to Combat Colonialism". In These Times.
- Hobson, Jeremy (April 1, 2016). "Frank Waln On Understanding The Native American Experience Through Hip Hop". Here & Now. WBUR.
- Kitson, Kashann (February 10, 2016). "Hip-Hop Artist Frank Waln Spits Rhymes From the Reservation". Inverse.
- Schilling, Vincent (May 10, 2013). "Frank Waln, Hip Hop Artist and Gates Scholar, Goes for Five NAMA Awards". Indian Country Today.
- Grant, Tobias. "Nake Nula Waun". Vision Maker.
- Sullivan, Kevin P. (November 13, 2014). "Rebel Music". MTV. Retrieved September 18, 2016.
- "The Bridge". Spotify. Retrieved February 18, 2021.
- "Born Ready". Spotify. Retrieved February 18, 2021.
- Trice, Dawn Turner. "Native American rapper looks to break stereotypes". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 22, 2014.