Independent (Rudegang Entertainment) (label)
27 July 2019 (released)
31 October 2019
Hip-hop has long been a vehicle for African-Americans to address the systemic racial problems still plaguing us, centuries after slavery first brought them to these shores. Everyone from Public Enemy and Dead Prez to Kendrick and Jay-Z has tackled the injustices that have burdened their communities and offered aspirational tracks to break down these barriers and thrive as a people. The First Nations people have been faced with these challenges for a lot longer and in some ways, the progress is moving at a slower pace than in the African-American community. Reservations marginalize, giving indigenous people back a tiny fraction of their land, even then, pipelines and other development projects threaten their way of life. Residential schools were scary places to grow up in and the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women is robbing a people of their most precious resource.
Someone has to stand up and fight these issues by bringing awareness and giving their people hope. Many hip-hop groups like the Status Krew are popping up all over the continent. Member of the Krew, rapper Hope, has released his latest full-length record Red Man featuring provocative and inspirational lyrics with some top-level guest appearances to further propel First Nations concerns into the national conversation. Based in beautiful Vancouver, BC, Hope operates out of a place of bountiful natural wonders that are being threatened daily by the pipelines and developments of a white man's society that is increasingly concerned with industrial development and cosmopolitan opulence over protecting its one and only planet and giving indigenous people what they rightly deserve.
The single 'Never Fail' hits early after the appropriate introductions. Bad boy horns and big beats score Hope's push to transcend the challenges of his community. A hot up and comer tale from a “small rez kid”. If 'Never Fail' is the inspirational lead, '100 Million' kicks off the vitriol. A blunt commentary on the deaths of “100 million in 500 years”. Further from the outright slayings, Hope puts a finger on alcoholism, fentanyl and suicide as factors multiplying those numbers of Native Americans who have lost their lives to this ongoing genocide.
'Generosity', 'Rage' and 'I Scream' form a trilogy of joints with singer Mamarudegyal MTHC faithfully filling the spot of a Rhianna-like guest spot offering silky smooth feminine vocals to back up Hope's insightful rhymes. On the latter two tracks, rapper Doobie unleashes lightning verses eviscerating the occupiers while celebrating living life as a proud people. 'Life Givers' is a reminder that indigenous women are still disappearing and it needs to be stopped because these life-givers are the mothers of us all.
Hope's latest record is a revealing and inspirational collection detailing the ups and downs of life in the First Nations community on the West Coast. A voice that needs to be heard more and more in the current zeitgeist.