By Danielle Vienneau
The very first International Indigenous Hip Hop Awards Show is just around the corner, and SAY Magazine is proud to be a partner and supporter of the many talented Indigenous performers and producers from around the world.
In anticipation of the two-day virtual celebration of arts and culture, SAY Magazine would like to acknowledge the four industry leaders who have worked tirelessly to bring this event to life.
We all know that music is healing and can bring people together, and that’s exactly how William Pierson (Jon-C), Christie Charles (Miss Christie Lee), Paul Robert Sawan (K.A.S.P) and Chris Sharpe (C Sharpe) were united—through hip hop. “Hip hop is a beautiful culture that is diverse and inclusive,” said Sharpe. “It brought us together, and we know Indigenous hip hop will bring millions more together from all over the world.”
Having worked on the CUT Hip Hop Awards together for three years, K.A.S.P and C Sharpe planned to join forces to help increase the visibility of urban Indigenous music artists. “We knew it needed to be big, and we needed a talented team in place to make it happen,” explained Sharpe. They called on one of the pioneers of Indigenous hip hop, Jon-C, who also happened to be one of the creators and producers of the CUT Hip Hop Awards from 2015-2017. To complete the team, they reached out to hip hop artist and Indigenous rights activist Miss Christie Lee, who agreed to join the team.
Together they launched the International Indigenous Hip Hop Awards Show, which includes a music conference followed by an awards celebration. This event will unite those that make up the Indigenous urban entertainment culture, providing a platform to showcase the great work of diverse Indigenous hip hop artists, singers, visual artists, spoken word poets, producers and DJs from around the globe.
Meet the team who has invested their time and money into making this dream a reality.
Jon-C The General is a Winnipeg-born emcee hailing from the notorious North End, a neighbourhood known for its rich and vibrant culture, yet high incidences of poverty and crime. As a youth, Jon-C turned to music as an outlet from his surroundings and the key to changing his lifestyle. Learning all he could about music, Jon-C has solidified his place on the Canadian hip hop scene; his multitude of talents speak volumes in the world of audio. He is a master engineer, mixing music, creating graphics and directing music videos all while being a full-time emcee. With unique vocals and truthful lyrics, it’s no wonder Jon-C is a 12-time music award winner. Fans may recognize him from the popular groups Winnipeg Boyz and Winnipeg’s Most.
Miss Christie Lee
Growing up in a world of music, Miss Christie Lee’s focus has always been on hip hop. As an emcee, she incorporates traditional knowledge and Musqueam language, an ancient Hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ dialect, in her work. She comes from the Musqueam Peoples, with ancestry from Tseilwahtuth (George) and Squamish (Harry) nations in British Columbia. She is a mother, storyteller and lover of hip hop who hopes her music will inspire other Indigenous youth. With permission from her Elders, Miss Christie Lee’s music is about her culture and her teachings, using rap and hip hop as a modern way to express her creativity and preserve her language.
She has performed on major stages all around the globe, including at the Canadian pavilion, at WEDay, The Drum is Calling Festival, TEDX distortion Vancouver, the JUNO’s with Arcade Fire, and the Whistler Snowboard festival with A Tribe Called Red.
Her interests and expertise extend beyond music to art, poetry and film. She has been the curator for Musqueam Youth Claiming Spaces, the artistic advisor for c̓əsnaʔəm, the city before the city (Museum of Vancouver), and a performer and facilitator for the Words Rising, Birds Rising event featured at the Roundhouse and Maplewood Nature House. In 2018, she was appointed the City of Vancouver’s first Indigenous Poet Laureate.
From British Columbia, Canada, K.A.S.P is a multi-award winning and multi-nominated Cree hip hop artist, DJ, motivational speaker and workshop facilitator. He grew up in the rougher areas of East Vancouver where he was first introduced to hip hop music. K.A.S.P started his music career in 2000 with the hip hop group 7th Generation, and in 2010 made the decision to branch out as a solo artist. In 2013, he took some time off from the music industry to focus on motivational speaking and working with youth.
Over the years, K.A.S.P has shared the stage with artistic talents like The Game, Lloyd Banks, Obie Trice, Maestro, Tone Loc, Choclair, Snow, Moka Only, Young Buck, Swollen Members and SweatShop Union. He has also collaborated with DMC of the legendary RUN DMC, Chino XL, Choclair, Moka Only and Northern Cree.
K.A.S.P has committed himself to serving Indigenous youth. His motivational speaking intertwines the story telling of his life—growing, persevering and expressing his life through his music.
C Sharpe has spent his entire life creating, from marketing to film editing, branding to graphic design, and script writing to music production for major companies, artists and deejays. He has coordinated and promoted major events in Canada, including concerts for Shaggy, Shawn Desman, Danny Fernandes, Belly, Karl Wolf, Neverest, Eleven Past One, Crystal Shawanda, Choclair, Bishop Brigante, Ivana Santilli, JRDN and Maestro Fresh Wes to name a few. For the last five years, C Sharpe has worked as the cultural and event director for the City of Thompson in Manitoba and has previously coordinated the entertainment for the Manitoba Indigenous Games.
With an educational background in Digital Multimedia and Technology from Red River College (Winnipeg, Manitoba), C Sharpe’s specialization in video design has secured a multitude of creative works, including a TV series with Inferno Pictures for the Comedy Network called House Party. He is the creator and executive producer for national television production Urban Star, and most recently he created and executive produced a new TV show called Yo Canada Raps. In his spare time, he likes to build story pitches for TV networks and create video game applications.
For over two decades, he’s done it all. So there’s no doubt that his specific skill set fits perfectly to round out the founding team of the International Indigenous Hip Hop Awards Show.
The International Indigenous Hip Hop Awards Show takes place online May 22-23, 2021, and will be hosted from Winnipeg, Manitoba, on the original lands of the Dene Peoples, Dakota, Anishinaabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, on Treaty 1 Territory and on the homeland of the Métis Nation.
Join the movement and find out more by visiting indigenoushiphopawards.com.