Since then, Rowsey has applied his passion for hip-hop beyond the Pit Cypher and his career. On Oct. 17, he worked with UNC professors to revive the endangered Eastern Cherokee dialect, spoken almost exclusively by senior generations of Cherokee people.
Linguistics professor Misha Becker said children respond positively to language revitalization when social prestige of the language is demonstrated, like when Rowsey rapped in the dialect.
“When Josh was working with the kids — of course, they were kind of shy — they didn’t just jump up and rap with him,” Becker said.
But that didn’t stop him.
“He would point to a particular kid and ask, ‘What’s your favorite word in Cherokee? What does that mean? Let’s go with that!’ And he would just keep going.”
Though he dedicates every Wednesday night to the Pit Cypher, Rowsey has also been productive in the studio. He recently released his first music video for his song, “America 3.0,” a social critique Rowsey said was inspired by his anger toward issues like police violence in American society.
Despite this frustration, Rowsey’s artistic message is unabashedly positive.
“I realize hip-hop is this solution that is bringing people together across cultures,” Rowsey said. “All this divide we see in present day does not need to exist, and one thing everybody loves — from Cherokee kids to frat boys at UNC and everybody in between — are some beats and some rhymes.”
Rowsey’s antics in the Pit caught the attention of senior Blake Salmons, who is documenting Rowsey’s life for a photojournalism class project.
“I just want to capture all the complexity of what he’s going through right now and the momentum that’s gathered behind him,” he said.
With a full plate, Rowsey is looking forward — as always, with abundant enthusiasm.
“Y’all better be ready for what I have planned because it’s going to shake North Carolina next semester. Watch, just watch. That’s all I have to say about it.”