In this photo: Lindsay Eekwol Knight w/DJ Kookum
A Showcase of Indigenous Female Hip Hop Acts
While the East Coast vs. West Coast Hip Hop debates continue to rage, it’s the female Hip Hop artists who are still vying for a place in the upper echelons of the genre. So it’s important, for the artists and audiences alike, when an evening celebrating women’s Hip Hop acts is presented. It’s validating, it’s honouring, it’s a great night of entertainment, and yes—it’s still necessary.
On August 31, 2014, the 2nd Annual Native Hip Hop Festival dedicated an entire night of all women Hip Hop artists at the Fortune Sound Club on East Pender Avenue in Vancouver, British Columbia. When asked if she had ever been part of a showcase of this nature before, Lindsay Eekwol Knight, one of the main performers of the evening said, “Not so much for Indigenous women. I’ve been invited to Lady-Fest in Ottawa, but for Indigenous ladies, no this will be the first. I’m really excited about this.”
Eekwol’s motivation for becoming involved in Hip Hop is as common as anyone else working in the genre saying, “It was definitely the beats, the rhythms, the way you can tell a story over a beat—and historically we’ve always been story tellers. So when I first heard Hip Hop, it was just like… this is a perfect medium for us to do this.”
Eekwol embraces her political responsibilities as an Indigenous person stating, “I have a song I’ll be performing tonight that starts out saying ‘I’m Born Political’ – having the history we have on this land, there’s no way you can’t speak about rights and issues because it’s all around—from the minute we’re on this earth—we have to be unafraid to do that.” Inez Jasper, a self-made singer with a very strong fan-base uses her life and career to inspire and empower Indigenous people especially the women: “We all have goals and dreams in our hearts, and I like to be an example of what that journey looks like.” Inez’s philosophy and her message are clear, “It’s important to express who we truly are, our authentic selves—what ever that happens to be.
The variety of performers at the Party Like a Matriarch event was as diverse as the nations they represent, from the young highly sexualized solo act prowling the width of the stage, a lead vocalist framed by two female dancers, to the throw-back sweat-pants-wearing veteran, and the glamorous evenly-tanned and polished stage acts in this showcase. The women are being themselves, not a version of what someone told them to be. To do anything different wouldn’t make them Matriarchs.
Despite the sexist, stereotypical woman pitted against woman notions, there were no signs of tensions or competitive one-upmanship behavior going on, on stage or behind the scenes. One of the organizers of the Festival posted a congratulatory comment on the night’s success boasting that all the performers were where they needed to be, when they needed to be there. Clearly his note speaks more to the less than professional conduct of some male Hip Hop performers, but when you invite Matriarchs, that’s exactly what you get.
Party Like a Matriarch’s performers were:
Lindsay Eekwol Knight
Crystal J Schooner
Cheyanna J. V. Kootenhayoo