The First Ladies of Canadian Indigenous Hip Hop

Larry points us at this article at Bitchmedia.org that highlights and under-reported part of the Canadian music scene. I learned a lot about an area of Canadian music of which I knew little about.

This past summer, Canadian indigenous rapper and member of native rap collective First Ladies Crew Christie Lee Charles (aka “Miss Christie Lee” or “Crunch”) joined environmental groups, activists, and actor Jane Fondaat a rally against increased tanker traffic and oil pipelines being buried across traditional indigenous lands. With her performance, Crunch had an audience of predominantly grey-haired former hippies captivated, with women skipping and dancing in a circle to her music.

Ten years ago, artist Jerilynn Webster helped found the indigenous hip hop collective in East Vancouver. Now, the collective, including the core members of Webster (who goes by the stage name “JB the First Lady”), Crunch, and the duos Rapsure Risin and Dani and Lizzy, are a key part of a growing force of Canadian indigenous women who are using hip hop to stand in their power. “For us to be where we are today—when both of my grandfathers went to residential schools and overcame genocide—for me to be making statements, and for people to be asking for my opinion and what I think should be happening, because of hip hop music, I feel so honored,” says Webster, who has a calm voice and remarkably suave flow. “I feel I bring a sense of compassion to what I am talking about and how I am presenting it.”

Webster says she’s more focused on using her music to empower young indigenous women and bring awareness—albeit with a lightness and pop sensibility—than she is on getting radio play. The First Ladies’ styles contrast with the gangster rap espoused by Canadian indigenous rappers like War Party, who helped build a solid native rap scene starting in the 1990s. Webster sees it as important to tell the stories of struggle and crime happening on reservations, but also aims for her music to be accessible and dynamic while digging into deep issues around history and identity.

Continue reading. There’s more to read here, too.

 

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.