December 4, 2020: Music and Storytelling (part 2)
Some readings, art, music, and other resources. These are not required readings. They have been shared with us by our guests, or are things we have looked up after an interview for further information or just because we were curious.
We share these materials with you for interest and pleasure’s sake.
If you missed this week’s class, or if you want to listen to it again, here it is:
This week we opened with Brian Fauteux, an instructor from the UofA who teaches classes in popular music. He speaks of the importance of thinking about popular music and how it is made, whose stories they are, and who they are written for.
Brian talks of how Black music was reproduced and produced by the white American recording industry, financially benefiting them and not the Black musicians who informed the music. Here is a GREAT interactive and up-to-date website, Black Music History, that has a tonne of information exploring the exploitation of Black music and culture by the white American recording industry: https://blackmusiclibrary.com/
We asked Brian to share a song with us that showcased popular music and storytelling. Brian shared with us a “Bobcaygeon” by The Tragically Hip (arguably Canada’s most loved rock band). The Tragically Hip, and more specifically Gord Downie, is a great example of telling stories through music that are relatable and bring the listener into the story.
We meet a local MC, Tzadeka. or Maigan van der Giessen. She shared this song with us. So you can listen to it again and again and again, here is a link: https://littlewhorerecords.bandcamp.com/track/i-recognize-you
And a video of Tzadeka:
For more music from Tzadeka, check out the bandcamp page: https://littlewhorerecords.bandcamp.com/album/tzadeka-half-the-pain-is-half-the-work-e-p
Thankfully there are more female emcees, or femcees, around town. Here is an article that interviews Tzadeka and MC Lovely, another local femcee: http://markermagazine.com/the-miseducation-of-femcees/
Maigan talks of watching a “woman slay on the mic . . . as one of [her] all time favourite things”. She “shouts out” local MC Pooky G, here is a video from Pooky G and Briskool. Before hitting play, the video and lyrics are about missing and murdered Indigenous Women. The video specifically references the many local lives that have been lost on Treaty 6 territory. It may not be appropriate for some folks and also very difficult to watch and listen.
DJ Creeasian, Matthew Good, is a local Indigenous hip hop artist and the founder of Cypher Wild in Edmonton. So those of us who have never heard the term cypher, according to Wikipedia: A cypher or cipher is an informal gathering of rappers, beatboxers, and/or breakdancers in a circle, in order to jam musically together. The term has also in recent years come to mean the crowd which forms around freestyle battles, consisting of spectators and onlookers.
There is a documentary, Cypher Wild: Keep the Circle Strong, directed by Sean Paul Arceta. In sharing what motivated him to make the film, Sean says “I willingly created this video with the intention to create awareness of how an event such as Cypher Wild exists within Edmonton and has been a way to engage with the community. You do not even have to identify with hip-hop or even like it to enjoy Cypher Wild. It’s an opportunity for others to story tell and express who they are. There is no competition, nor is it about being better than someone else. It’s truly about uplifting each other, and generating that fun vibe creatively through arts which can truly empower, and heal the spirits of people. I have had footage of Cypher Wild since it had began over four years ago, and thus I wanted to acknowledge it’s impact in Edmonton which is something that should not be taken for granted. You do not find a lot of “Hip-hop” events in Edmonton that truly ties in all the four elements, sticks to the roots, or embraces positivity.” (an excerpt from below the video on youtube) You can watch the short documentary online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUIq6_8ucgg
Creeasian also teaches dance classes through MileZero each Wednesday night at 7pm till December 16th, they are happening online and they are FREE or by donation: https://www.tickettailor.com/events/milezerodance/436121 All skill levels are welcome and it’s not just about dance, it’s also about the music!
Creeasain is not the only Indigenous hip hop artist organizing and producing music. There is a large and very prolific Indigenous music scene across Canada and the US, as well as Australia and people are talking about it. This has people thinking. Check out this article, Decolonial Hip Hop: Indigenous Hip Hop and the disruption of settler colonialism by Kyle T. Mays (2019), Cultural Studies, 33:3, 460-479, DOI:
Check out this incredible art show, Beat Nation – Hip Hop as Indigenous Culture, that showcases Indigenous hip hop across Canada. It started off as a website project but then toured some of the largest art galleries across this country. It was curated by Skeena Reece and Tania Willard , two incredible Indigenous artists.
JB the First Lady is a member of the Nuxalk & Onondaga Nations. She is a Vancouver-based hip hop and spoken word artist, beat-boxer, cultural dancer and youth educator. She explains the importance of hip hop for her as an Indigenous woman in the short video here: