Native American hip hop

Native American Hip Hop is hip-hop culture practiced by people of (often urban) Native American heritage; this also includes Canadian First Nation hip hop artists. It is not a specific form of hip-hop but varies in style along the lines of hip-hop in general. Native Americans have been present in hip-hop culture since its inception as breakdancers, DJs, rappers, and graffiti artists. The Native American contribution to hip-hop can occasionally be veiled by the ethnic umbrella term of Hispanic or Latino, terms that do not specifically refer to race.

Hip-hop has grown in popularity not only in urban settings but also on reservations since it has become ubiquitous on television and radio. Political activism and its expression in art has also been of great influence due to the many social issues present in indigenous communities. Artists such as John Trudell (with his spoken word poetry), Mildred Bailey (with her contributions to jazz in the 1930s)[1] and Russell Means (with what he calls his rap-ajo music)[2] have been of some influence with their artistic endeavors.

Notable artistsEdit

Originally a member of Tribal LIve, Blest One aka Marlon White has been elevating and creating original music since 1991. Blest One (B1) started rappin and creating his own unique rhythm and flow at an early age. His group Tribal Live would have huge success with a large following setting the standard and pushing boundaries for the early Native Hip Hop movement. After many years doing live shows and creating original music, in 1993, they formed Tribal Live (TL). The dynamic partners in rhyme are from Window Rock, Az. Tribal Live's debut album "True II LIfe" would later receive Hip Hop Album of the year honors at the 2003 Native American Music Awards.

Snotty Nose Rez Kids is a Canadian Hip-Hop duo of Haisla (Indigenous) descent from Kitimat, BC, composed of rappers Yung Trybez and Young D. Formed in 2016, SNRK released their first self-titled album in January 2017, and followed up that same year with their second full-length, The Average Savage in September 2017. The latter went on to secure them Best Hip Hop Artist at the Western Canadian Music Awards, cemented them on 2018’s Top 10 list of the coveted Polaris Music Prize, and landed them a 2019 Juno Nomination for best Indigenous Music Album. The group toured heavily in Canada with appearances in New York City, Seattle and Darwin, Australia. They quickly gained notoriety for their energetic, inspiring and thought provoking performances.

Melle Mel, the first rapper to ever use the epithet MC, is Cherokee and Ernie Paniccioli, a famous photographer of hip-hop culture who grew up in Brooklyn, is Cree.[3] Funkdoobiest, Solé,[4] and Litefoot[5] (winner of the Native American Music Award), are also well-known Native American hip-hop artists. Wu-Tang affiliate King Just is also Native American and the Ol' Dirty Bastard also claimed to be of Native American descent.[6] Flavor Unit member Apache has also been assumed to be Native American, though a reliable source has yet to be found. In the past, the majority of Native American hip hop was to be found in the underground scene, rarely gaining exposure beyond regional hits. However, artists such as Drezus, Frank Waln, Supaman, DJ oTTo and Red Eagle are just a few newer artists that have gained substantial popularity in recent years. [7][8]

Frank Waln connects the experiences of Indigenous peoples in North America rising from the aftermath of genocide to the experiences of African Americans who came from slavery. He recognizes that the creators of Hip hop came from situations influenced by slavery and that his situation is similar. He raps about the effects of colonialism on his people in his song My Stone, and he uses Hip hop to survive and get through his situation that was influenced by the exploitation of his people.[9] Indigenous youth are able to use Hip hop to understand themselves and the socioeconomic processes that affect their lives. Themes in Indigenous Hip hop include colonialism, dispossession, and racialization – all of which have affected Indigenous youth in North America.[10]

Some Indigenous artists worry that their blend of traditional music with their own may be seen as disrespectful to their ancestors. However, many elders and Hip hop listeners are able to appreciate the mixture, as it can bring multiple generations together through music.[11]

You can find early rock rap groups such as WithoutReservation and Atlan Underground, were the first to bridge the gap between rock, punk and hip hop.

With the help of United Roots Oakland, Desirae Harp, a member of the Mishewal Wappo tribe, collaborated with two rappers, Fly50 and SeasunZ, on their song "Solarize."[7] The collaborating artists comment on environmental issues caused by pollution, abandonment, and negligence[7] that needs to be addressed.

Kemozabi, a Wyandot DJ from the all native FBI crew, is well known in the underground for his participation in many DJ competitions such as the DMC and Scribble Jam. He was consistently placed second and third in many competitions such as the 2004 Montreal and Edmonton DMC competitions,[12] and the 2005 Moncton[13] and North Bay[14] DMC competitions. War Party became the first native performers to host RapCity.[15] War Party is one of a number of Canadian groups to gain some chart success, including Tru Rez Crew and Slangblossom.[16] Hatchet Warrior, the second album by Native American hip hop artist Anybody Killa,[17] was released in 2003, and peaked at #4 on the Billboard Top Independent Albums chart, #42 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and #98 on the Billboard 200.[18] Reddnation, a group from Alberta has become decorated – having received awards for 'Best Rap/Hip Hop CD' and 'Best Duo/Group'[19] at the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards for their second album Now or Never, Best Rap or Hip-Hop Album at the 2006 Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards, 'Best Group or Duo' & 'Best Rap or Hip-Hop Album' at the 2007 Alberta Aboriginal Music Awards, and 'Best Group or Duo' at the 2007 Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards.[20]

The organization Beat Nation is a Canadian not-for-profit Indigenous Hip hop collective with the goal of giving public space to Indigenous artists and their listeners. It is run through a website and exhibits which aim to share Beat Nation's work and music, as well as give space for Indigenous Hip hop culture to operate.[21] Artists in the collective include Corey Bulpitt, Andrew Dexel, Bracken Hanuse Corlett, Bunky Echo-Hawk, Cheryl L’Hirondelle, Doreen Manuel, Jackson 2bears, Jolene Nenibah Yazzie, Jordan Bennet, Kevin Lee Burton, Leena Minifie, Morgan Green, Nicholas Galanin, Rose Simpson, Sonny Assu, and the Native Youth Artist Collective.[22]

Rapper Young Kidd from Winnipeg, Manitoba is of Jamaican and Aboriginal heritage, and two of the trio group, Winnipeg's Most, are Aboriginal - Jon C and Brooklyn. Winnipeg's Most have won several Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards. Both Young Kidd and Winnipeg's Most have achieved high levels of local success in Winnipeg.

Frank Waln, a Sicangu Lakota, and other newer hip hop and pop artists of Aboriginal descent were featured on MTV's Rebel Music in late 2014 for both their music and community advocacy work in various Aboriginal causes.[23]

Florida rapper Denzel Curry, a pioneer of the Cloud Rap and Soundcloud Rap scene, is of Bahamian and Native American heritage.

Albuquerque DJ and EBM artist oTTo

TO is Cherokee, Mi'kmaq ,African American and Caucasian.

Lil Cory is Cherokee, descending from Moytoy of Tellico and belongs to the Quatsy Wolf Clan.

Early Internet pioneeringEdit

The first url dedicated to native hip hop in the north was REDHIPHOP.COM which was started in DEC. of 1999 it was unlike other existing online databases where is it was a stand alone site with no umbrella site, ie Yahoo or geocities. This site has individual artist section and playable and even downloadable mp3s. Unlike the native hip hop geocities group this iste had working contracts with artists involved - This site was started by Manik out of the REDWIRE MAGAZINE office. At that time there was already a geocities group which served as the first online database. After REDHIPHOP.COM .. followed suit and bought its own url.

Stretching back as early as October 17, 2000,[24] one of the main websites promoting Native hip hop performers has been '' a collective effort with submissions from various artists and members of the public.

Offering a wealth of website links, artist reviews and MP3 downloads – was, in the early days, instrumental and invaluable in networking with Indigenous North American hip hop artists and groups such as Shadowyze, Atzlan Underground, Anishinaabe Posse, Gary Davis, Manik, Natay, 7th Generation, Red Power Squad, Quese The Emcee, Night Shield, Reddnation, Rollin Fox, Supaman, King Blizz and War Party, giving them a voice online.

In the five years proceeding after the Millennium Year, the website grew in popularity and acted as a 'spring-board' for many of the Native hip hop artists around today.


  1. ^ Berglund, Jeff; Johnson, Jan; Lee, Kimberli (2016-03-10). Indigenous Pop: Native American Music from Jazz to Hip Hop. University of Arizona Press. ISBN 9780816509447.
  2. ^ "Russel Means Homepage".
  3. ^ Wiltz, Teresa (2002-12-26). "The Ever-Changing Face of Hip-Hop; As It Went From the Streets to the Suites, Photographer Ernie Paniccioli Was There". The Washington Post.
  4. ^ "Solé website".
  5. ^ "Litefoot".
  6. ^ "Ol' Dirty Bastard of Shinnecock descent". Archived from the original on 2008-07-24. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
  7. ^ a b c Navarro, Jenell (2014-05-16). "Solarize-ing Native hip-hop: Native feminist land ethics and cultural resistance". Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society. 3 (1). ISSN 1929-8692.
  8. ^ Article in Indian Country
  9. ^ Kent, Sarah (Fall–Winter 2018). ""I Got This AB Original Soul/I Got This AB Original Flow": Frank Waln, the Postmasculindian, and Hip Hop as Survivance". Studies in American Indian Literatures. 30 (3–4): 124, 126. doi:10.5250/studamerindilite.30.3-4.0121. S2CID 201707528 – via University of Waterloo Library.
  10. ^ Buffam, Bonar (May 2011). "Can't hold us back! Hip-hop and the racial motility of aboriginal bodies in urban spaces". Social Identities. 17 (3): 342, 343. doi:10.1080/13504630.2011.570973. S2CID 143442974 – via University of Waterloo Library.
  11. ^ Przybylski, Liz (2018). "Customs and Duty: Indigenous Hip Hop and the US-Canada Border". Journal of Borderlands Studies. 33 (3): 498, 499. doi:10.1080/08865655.2016.1222880. S2CID 152234537 – via University of Waterloo Library.
  12. ^ "Montreal DMC 2004".
  13. ^ "Moncton DMC 2005". Archived from the original on 2008-08-27. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
  14. ^ "North Bay DMC 2005". Archived from the original on 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
  15. ^ "Warparty: The Great Natives from the North". Redwire magazine. Archived from the original on 2006-05-19. Retrieved June 21, 2005.
  16. ^ "Native hip hop poised for breakthrough". March 5, 2004. Archived from the original on 2004-11-07. Retrieved June 21, 2005.
  17. ^ Loftus, Johnny. "Review of Hatchet Warrior". Allmusic. Retrieved 2 January 2009.
  18. ^ "Charts and awards for Hatchet Warrior". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-08-25.
  19. ^ "Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards". Archived from the original on 2013-01-16.
  20. ^ "ReverbNation".
  21. ^ Gorlewski, Julie (2012). "Revolutionizing Environmental Education through Indigenous Hip Hop Culture". Canadian Journal of Environmental Education. 17: 49, 51, 52 – via University of Waterloo Library.
  22. ^ "Beat Nation".
  23. ^ "Watch the Trailer for MTV's 'Rebel Music' Featuring Frank Waln, Nataanii Means, Inez Jasper". Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  24. ^ "Native Hip Hop website". Archived from the original on October 17, 2000. Retrieved January 26, 2017.

External linksEdit