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Calgary, Alberta, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2006 | INDIE

Calgary, Alberta, Canada | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2006
Band Hip Hop Soul




"Native American Rap is the Most Authentic Rap We Have Today"

"In the opening shot of "Warpath," someone paints a white hand over aboriginal rapper Drezus's mouth. That's a symbol for white
European oppression — it's a symbol for why Drezus raps in the first place. He's not the only one: Drezus is only part of a growing movement of Native American and Native Canadian rappers who are providing voice for one of the most marginalized groups in our society. And in the process, they're making the truest hip-hop we have.

"We are overlooked," Drezus explains, "Our people are overlooked and we are the people of this land and we're treated as if we're nothing ... [This song is] kind of like a roll call for Native men of who we are and what our roles are as men. It is to ignite a spirit in all of us."
If his language sounds familiar, that's because it aligns perfectly with the original goals of hip-hop in the black American community. According to 1970s hip-hop originators like Afrika Bambaataa and DJ Kool Herc in the Bronx, the purest hip-hop seeks to achieve 5 goals. It should "educate ... provide a safe haven spread our message of love, peace and unity...assist others in developing careers and opportunities...preserve the culture." And since most rappers in the American mainstream — regardless of their race — are now more interested in tearing each other down to secure their spot in the limelight, that leaves Native-American rappers to take up the mantle of classic rap. " - Music.Mic


Alone in the Oregon Coast wilderness, Jeremiah Manitopyes sat in a dark cave, waiting for a vision to appear. Despite his large frame and tough upbringing, he was scared of the ocean that lay in front of him; growing up on the plains of rural Canada, he had never seen it before. The vastness of it—how alive it looked—was overwhelming. Famished and on edge, he peered out onto the water, glowing in the moonlight, in search of who he was meant to be.

He was sent there by a healer—a figure his tribe, the Plains Cree, had sought for generations for spiritual guidance. The mystic woman, an elder in the Native community, had told him to wait in the cave, with no food and only a beat­up sleeping bag, for a sign. It was an emergency vision quest, thrown together due to extreme circumstances: Only a few weeks earlier Manitopyes had tried to kill himself, downing a bag of coke and fifth of whiskey to try to numb his brain enough to slit his own throat. He was found by strangers in a puddle of cash and drugs, passed out on the side of the road. His cancer­afflicted grandmother, who was originally supposed to make the journey to Oregon from Saskatchewan in the hopes of healing her sickness, put him on the plane in her place.

But the quest didn’t yield results. Manitopyes, only 18 at the time, wasn’t receptive to the process, instead grumbling to the healer, who checked on him everyday. She tried to convince him that she sensed he carried the spirit inside of a chief, Piapot, who began his life as a horse thief but would go on to become a legend in Cree folklore for leading his people away from the settlers who invaded their land in the 1800s. She told him he would one day do something similar.

He didn’t buy it.

“I was still a punk,” he says. “I didn’t know what the hell she was talking about.”

It would take him 14 years, multiple jail stints and another attempt on his life (this time by someone else) to figure it out. Now, at age 32, he takes Piapot everywhere he goes; the chief is tatted on his left arm, resting proudly next to his smudged stab wounds and aged scars. Like the Cree leader later in life, Manitopyes is no longer a thief, but rather someone guiding his people through his words, fulfilling his destiny of becoming a chief one bar at a time as the rapper Drezus.

Since a teenager, when he earned the nickname “Biggie” for his chubby stature and ability to freestyle, Drezus has been winning people over with his rap skills. In the 00s, he landed a deal with EMI as part of the group Team Rezofficial, whose single “Lonely” topped MuchMusic’s countdown (basically Canada’s version of TRL) for four weeks. More recently, his 2013 album Red Winter has received multiple prizes from Native organizations, and videos for the songs “Red Winter” and “Warpath” have racked up around a hundred thousand views each on YouTube. Yet even as Drezus achieves these successes, he faces a larger question of whether he can be seen as more than a niche artist—or if that’s even something he needs to do.

Only once you listen to its lyrics closely do you realize that “Warpath,” Drezus’s latest single, is about his Native heritage. At first take, it comes off like a more standard trap anthem, complete with stuttering 808 drums, a thudding bass line and Drezus’s baritone bark. Drezus can sell thissound—after all, he spent much of his career making tough gangster rap that reflected his life in the streets selling drugs.

But “Warpath” tells a different story than its sound lets on. Its lyrics revolve around spiritualism and overcoming adversity, with lines like, “They left our people broken, but homie don’t play the possum.” And its video shows Drezus channeling his Cree forefathers by standing in front of a tipi in colored buckskins and traditional warrior paint and pounding on a drum made of birch wood. Both the song and video, he says, were meant to give hope to Native men, who often struggle with self­confidence and get into crime as a result.

“I just wanted to be like, ‘Yo be strong. We don’t have to be selling dope or stabbing people. We have a bigger fight to take on.”

Much of Drezus’s music finds him touching on similar themes, and he’s aware that people might only be listening because of his heritage. Rapping in face paint comes with the risk of being branded as a novelty—Native MC rather than just MC. But Drezus is versatile, singing on hooks in his heavy huff of a voice in a way that shows he has an ear for melodies. Lyrically, he feels like he’s being truer to himself than ever. Songs like “Free Pt.2” and “The Sequel,” both off his recently released Indian Summer album, show him rhyming fiercely about the problems he faced growing up without a father and in poverty.

“For a minute, I thought was good at that hustler stuff... now I’m speaking straight from the heart,” he tells me.

Growing up, Drezus hated guitars in his music. That’s because his absent father, a traveling country singer on the “red circuit,” (shows on reservations and in Native communities) would only play rock records when he decided to show his face around the house. As a result, Drez instead gravitated toward groups like Public Enemy, N.W.A. and—perhaps his biggest influence—Ice Cube, who all made music that was sonically vicious and hard hitting.

“It just felt like some gangster shit,” he remembers.

He related to it because he was living a similar lifestyle, guzzling 40 ounces of malt liquor and carrying guns on a daily basis (only years later did he realize that Cube and N.W.A. had a message behind their music). He was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, which he describes as a “hood in the middle of nowhere.” His mother moved him away from the small town and his gangbanging cousins as a child after a violent incident at a party involving his aunt’s boyfriend left two men dead.

She took him to Calgary, an oil­rich and predominately white town, but the move did little to deter him from getting involved with a rough crew he formed with other Native kids. It also didn’t prevent him from adopting the same vice most of his family had struggled with for generations: alcoholism. The liquor, he claims, made him feel more confident about himself, but it was one of the main contributing factors that eventually led him to try to take his own life.

After a while, he started writing his own rhymes and recording them on dubbed cassette tapeson his ghetto blaster. His big break came at age 17, when he snuck into a Jamaican club in downtown Calgary and convinced the DJ to let him get on the mic.

“In front of 300 Jamaicans, I started busting, and they were like, ‘What the fuck? Who is this guy?’” he says. “But they couldn’t deny the flow.”
Later on, he was invited to record in a studio by War Party, a moderately successful Native hip­ hop group in the 90s, after he ran into them at a different club in Calgary and impressed them with a 20­minute freestyle. When it came time to lay down a track, though, the group was stunned by his lyrics; rather than talking about the problems of his people, he was spitting bars about robbing and slanging on the street.

“He would spit and write about the life he was living at the time, which was pretty wild,” says the group’s producer Big Stomp, who still works with Drezus. “I (eventually) got to see with my own eyes that the experiences he was writing about weren't fiction.”
Stomp knew from right off the bat that Drezus was a diamond in the rough; most MCs he worked with had trouble landing on the beat on their first try of a song, but Drezus always nailed it immediately. Stomp invited Drezus to start Rezofficial, which included other former members of War Party. Throughout the 2000s, they would go on to release two nationally distributed albums through EMI and build a significant buzz in Canada. Their big showcase was supposed to take place in 2010, when they were booked to play a concert in association with the opening ceremony of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.

But Drezus never made it. He instead watched it from a jail cell in Winnipeg, where he had landed after his second distribution charge in a span of five years. His dream of making it big was gone, and suddenly he was just another lost Native boy from the prairie, confused of his identity and locked up for the foreseeable future.

The true defining moment of Drezus’s life came in 2012, shortly after he was released from the drug rehab center he agreed to attend as part of a deal to avoid jail time. While there, he took a cultural course, taught by an elder, who reopened his eyes to his ancestry. He learned Native songs, how to harvest crops, and even how to make a traditional drum (he made the one seen in the “Warpath” video). He finally started caring about who he was as a person, not as a figure on the street.

But just like when he came back from his vision quest when he was 18, he didn’t think to apply these things to his everyday life, so he had to learn the hard way. Not long after being released, he robbed a crew in a Winnipeg. The crew eventually caught up to him, snatched his jewelry andstuck him full of knives (he still has scars from the incident surrounding his eyes). It was only then, when he sat in the house he was renting, pondering whether to retaliate, that he decided he was done with this life forever.

“I had two choices: The choice to retaliate, which meant at least someone losing their life...or getting the fuck out of there,” he says. “It was a real ‘man­up’ moment.”

Still battered and bruised, he returned to Calgary, where he found his waiting family, including a young son who he had never spent time with (he also has another son in New Mexico by a different mother). One of the first things Drezus did with his son was go to the library, where they checked out a book on Chief Piapot. They made an agreement then that they would care more about their family’s history, and it would be something that they would do together. They started getting involved in the protest against Bill C­45, a bill by the Canadian government that has since passed, making significant changes to land and environmental protection acts in ways that many local Natives consider to be a violation of their treaty rights. At rallies with his son on his shoulders, Drezus banged on the drum he made at the treatment center, standing hand in hand with his people, and he suddenly felt empowered.

“I started feeling a connection with the people, and I was like, ‘Yo, this is who I was supposed to be,’” he says. “It was only a month after I left Winnipeg, so it’s kind of like I jumped right into the fire—another fire—but a positive one.”

The fire gave him a new perspective on life, and it also changed his music. He recorded his 2013 record, Red Winter, during the rallies and decided he would make it his goal to motivate his people to do something positive with their lives, using his own experiences as cautionary tales. Winter has since earned extensive praise and led government agencies like the Calgary Youth Offender Center to ask Drezus to visit and speak to its Native population about his story.

“We got Crips. We got projects—native housing is the same idea,” he says, noting the role his visits play. “These kids just want somebody to identify with.”

Erin Bailey, executive director of the Center for Native American Youth in Washington D.C., agrees. The organization’s staff—many of which are familiar with Drezus’s music, she says— often ask the kids they work with what they’re listening to, and it’s almost always the same: hip­ hop. She’s quick to point out that many Native youth groups around the country use the genre as a way to get its troubled members off the street.

“Hip hop specifically often comes up... with Native American youth on reservations and in urban Indian communities,“ she says. “The music can help in inspiring them.”

And that’s exactly what Drez says he’s doing with his music. Still, he recognizes that songs like “Warpath” aren’t going to be played on the radio. If he wants to continue to make it big, it’ll have to come from a different sound, one not so rooted in the culture he’s embraced. It’s a dilemma not uncommon in hip­hop—sell out or be stuck in the underground. However, it’s an especially tough dilemma for Drez, as he finally just figured out his identity as both as an MC and a person.

That person is different than the one that sat in the cave in Oregon. Sometimes, the crowds at his shows give him the same feeling the ocean did, he says—big, new and scary. But he’s no longer lost or confused; the fear is instead rooted in excitement. He believes he’s fulfilling his destiny, and like Chief Piapot, he’s leading his people, whether they’re Native, white, poor or rich, to peace.

“People look at me for guidance now,” he says. “I’m exactly where I should be.” - VICE Noisey

"Drezus – Indian Summer [Review]"

Winnipeg, MB – Saskatoon-born, Winnipeg-based Canadian First Nations rapper Drezus is back with a brand new album, Indian Summer. Simply put: the album is political and fearless.

It is no secret that the state of Aboriginal affairs in Canada is nowhere close to pretty. The great divide between the Canadian government and Canadian Native communities seems to expand every year; old wounds resurface despite attempts at apology and half-hearted reconciliation. In this post-Idle No More movement, the First Nations narrative has become much sought after. Rap is the music of struggle so it is no wonder that many Native artists have embraced it as the vehicle for their storytelling.

Drezus has been making music since the late 90s, initially starting out as a poet. He released an album as part of Rezofficial Music in 2004. Indian Summer is his much-anticipated solo return after a decade-long hiatus during a time in which he dealt with his own personal struggle.

He opens the album with haunting native chanting in “Solomon’s Prayer” and it sets the mood for the rest of the album, calling for people to come together with a vibe intended to charge the listener up. “The Sequel” does the exact opposite by opening with a warped colonial male voice proclaiming that “the world is dying and the Natives must be saved”. Drezus speaks of a tumultuous relationship with his father and how it is the dribbled down consequence of colonialism. He brings up the school system and accuses colonials of “trying to kill us all”. His courageous lyrics are admirable; these are painful truths that no doubt make Canadians uncomfortable. For Drezus to use his voice to speak truth about politics and risk pissing people off is the mark of artistic authenticity.

Indian Summer is not all about struggle and politics though. This is a rap album with a balance of themes. There are a few romantic tracks with a couple features from extremely talented female vocalists. “Say” with feature from an artist that goes by Inez’ and “What You Need” with Fayliesha are both memorable and a good contrast to Drezus style. Indian Summer is a real, full-on rap album and these are two incredibly radio-friendly songs.

“Cruisin’” featuring Lightningcloud is an absolute earworm. The brilliant female chorus, “You can find me in my low rider /Credit to the all-nighter/ East West South-sider/ Or the North higher / Everybody fired up” is infectious and the strong 90s clapping beat makes it all the more fun. Lyrics like “you’re acting like you never seen a native before” reappropriates the n-word to forge an alliance with the Black American struggle. Many native stereotypes get poetically invoked in this song – “turquoise, feathers, pistols”. These could be implying pride or poking fun at the non-Natives’ antiquated view about Natives. Either way the poetry is clever and Drezus’ ability to infuse political agenda into rap is amazing.

“All I Can Be” with K-Riz goes into Drezus’ relationship with hip-hop. The incorporated horns section is creative and Drezus’ strong melodies make sure each song is easily recognizable. His use of different instruments is enchanting like “In The Morning After” where the sweeping violins add a cinematic tone to a song about achieving dreams.

“Warpath” the strongest song on Indian Summer and comes accompanied by a visually rich video. The anger and struggle on this track is obvious and visceral. Drezus gets very honest about the Native experience here. “Warpath” very clearly represents his standpoint as an artist.

“Of Note” is Drezus’ attempt at keeping the album as socially conscious as possible. Profanity is sparse on the album and Drezus relies more heavily on poetry to emphasize anger and frustration. Drezus recognizes the need to reject the image of Native women as sexual objects and his shares his stories and respect on track like ”Misogyny” and ”Neyihaw Girl”.

“High Note” is probably as aggressive as the album gets. This is a more traditional rap song with Merkules, Nato and Sese bringing their own brands of rap to the mix. Every rapper has their own form of communicating anguish about the state of their community, and the rappers featured on this song showcase Drezus’ message in their own, very different view points. Drezus’ collaborations within the native community deserve accolades. With contributors like Hellnback, Big Slim, Young Kidd, Joey Stylez and Samson T, Indian Summer becomes a patchwork quilt of aboriginal hip-hop excellence.

Indian Summer is an important album and Drezus has done a fantastic job of representing the Canadian First Nations perspective. Despite the political content on the album it never gets too heavy. Catchy melodies, beautiful vocals and creative uses of instruments make Indian Summer an aesthetic experience. To turn on Canadian radio and listen to music like this would be a refreshing dream come true.

Written by Prachi Kamble for HipHopCanada - Hip Hop Canada

"From Red Winter to Indian Summer, Drezus ignites with Warpath"

By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
Drezus said he painted the white hand across his face in the Warpath music video as an act of defiance.

Drezus, also known as Jeremiah Manitopyes, a Plains Cree- Saulteaux veteran hip hop artist, said the war paint symbolizes colonizing European power structures that can no longer silence his people.

“They did a pretty good job of it,” said Drezus. “Those institutions are trying to silence me, but they can’t and I’m speaking through it.”

Drezus released the song Warpath and accompanying video on July 16. The song is from his latest album, due out on Aug. 5, called Indian Summer. The title of the album is tied to his song Red Winter which he released during the height of the Idle No More movement in January 2013. It became one of the unofficial theme songs for the movement which captured the nation’s attention through its flashmob round dances and Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence’s protest fast on Victoria Island in Ottawa. The video for Red Winter has over 100,000 views on YouTube.

“A lot of people say it might have fizzled out or whatever but it still goes strong in a lot of us,” said Drezus, 31.

And in his latest release, Warpath, Drezus has taken it to the next level, both politically and aesthetically.

The words in the song come loaded with metaphor.

“I was almost channeling a spirit in that song. I was channeling my grandfathers and my ancestors,” said Drezus.

He traces his genealogy to the renowned Plains Cree Chief Piapot, who made peace with the Blackfoot and led his people through days of hunger and darkness at the dying end of the 1800s.

Drezus’ words are laced through a beat composed by 2oolman, a well-known hip hop producer who recently joined A Tribe Called Red as its newest third member, replacing DJ Shub.

“When I heard this 2oolman beat, it was crazy, it was booming, with the bass, the strings, the stabbing synth,” said Drezus. “It’s also really sparse so there is room for a lot of content and I started reciting my verse to the new beat and, I was like, ‘this is the one.’”

Drezus said Warpath is primarily aimed at First Nation men.

“I wanted to represent the Native man and a lot of the ones that fell through the cracks. It’s kind of like a roll call for Native men of who we are and what our roles are as men,” said Drezus. “It is to ignite a spirit in all of us.”

He said the song also throws down a challenge to the “Native hip hop world” still fragmented by “petty-ass beefs” leading nowhere.

“Never mind this, ‘You looked at me funny I hate you. Oh you made a song with that guy, I hate you.’ There is a lot of that within the Native hip hop community. There are a lot of petty beefs and I have been involved in a lot of that too. I just choose not to get into that, we need to look past that. We need to band together and fight a bigger fight.”

Drezus said he can feel something earth-shattering looming on the horizon.

“I just know we are in hard times and we are going to face even tougher times,” he said. “I feel really wary about our future as a whole on earth, with the weather. But in particular, what is going to happen when the government decides to really turn on us. It seems like they have been setting us up for something big. We are overlooked, our people are overlooked and we are the people of this land and we’re treated as if we’re nothing. I feel like we are being set up for something bigger, as far as the Harper government goes.”

And the times call for a change in the rhymes, he said.

“There are a lot of Native hip hop artists out there that not saying a whole lot. They’re talking about their past, the street life, that’s cool. But I think as a culture and even musically we have to move past that message. We beat that horse dead a million times,” he said. “How many times can you say you hustled or lived on the streets? I feel people don’t want to hear that from a Native man. They want to hear the struggle, the pain, the inspiration, the motivation, the growth, the fire.”

Then, there is the video. Melding urban-reserve identities, the video, shot across several locations between Edmonton and Calgary, takes the song to a “supernatural” level, says filmmaker Stuey Kubrick, who shot, directed and edited the video.

“(Drezus) is basically calling to arms. It seems like a war cry to young men and young people,” said Kubrick, who is also known as Stuart Reaugh. “It is the first time he’s using his voice to call people up. It is almost a war metaphor.”

Kubrick said he handled Drezus’ lyrical cocktail with care in crafting Warpath’s video.

“I went neutral. Nobody is doing anything aggressive in the video, because it’s an aggressive song,” said Kubrick, who lives in Vancouver and has been filming hip hop videos for about six years. “It’s basically neutral images, with a bit of action. It’s basically a collage of what I saw. I didn’t want to go over the top aggressive.”

The video surprises in the end with an appearance by renowned West Coast carver Beau Dick and one of his masks. The sequence was shot at the Fazakas Art Gallery in Vancouver.

“It makes the song more supernatural and mysterious in the end,” said Kubrick. “It sends that cool, artistic chill up my spine.”

The video was also film on a six-day road trip between Edmonton and Calgary. Parts of it were filmed in Edmonton, Maskwacis (formerly known as Hobbema), the nearby Solomon-Bull ranch and in Tsuu T’Ina Drezus said he rode a horse for the first time in the video.

“And it was bareback,” he said.

Drezus worked previously with Kubrick, who is known for delivering high-quality music videos, and wanted his talent for the song.

“Stuey is not a Native cat himself… I love his visuals, he’s got a crazy mind. He’s a little bit on the dark side. I felt we could capture a little bit of the darkness that I have, that our people have and a lot of Native men have that are going through the struggle,” he said. “But also bringing darkness to the light.”

Drezus said he’s hoping to go on tour to promote his new album in September. Plans are in the works to include Lightning Cloud and Inez Jasper on the tour.

“It is time, it is heating up, it is heating up for our people,” said Drezus. “I really just wanted to ignite a spark, a fire, whatever you want to call it.”

jbarrera@aptn.ca - Aptn News

"Drezus big winner at Indigenous Music Awards in Winnipeg"

Musicians from all over Canada, and around the world, collected hardware at the 10th annual Indigenous Music Awards, held in Winnipeg on Friday.

The awards, formerly called the Aboriginal Peoples' Choice Awards, feature emerging and established indigenous artists from all over North America. And like the former title of the awards suggest, it is the fans that make the final decision on who wins in each category.

Leading the pack this year was Drezus, a.k.a. Jeremiah Manitopyes. The Plains Cree-Saulteau artist, from Saskatoon, picked up four awards including Best Rap/Hip Hop CD for Indian Summer, and Best Music Video for his song Warpath.

City Natives, a collective of four hip-hip performers from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, were double award winners, winning Best Duo or Group and Single of the Year for their song Straight Chief'n.

Country singer and songwriter Armond Duck Chief, from the Siksika Nation on Blackfoot territory, Alberta, also scored two awards for his CD The One — Best Country CD and Best Indigenous Songwriter.

And Métis gospel singer Yvonne St. Germaine took home Best Gospel CD award. She has won in that category nine years out of the 10 that the awards have been running.

Check out everyone who took home a trophy from Friday night's ceremony:

Best Album Cover Design: Enter-Tribal — Hitting The Trail

Best Country Album: Armond Duck Chief — The One

Best Duo or Group: City Natives

Best Flute Album: Ryan Little Eagle — My Songs My Stories

Best Folk/Acoustic Album: Jason Burnstick and Nadine L'Hirondelle — Wrapped in Daisies

Best Gospel Album: Yvonne St. Germaine — If You See My Savior

Best Hand Drum Album: Young Spirit — Nitehe Ohci: From the Heart

Best Indigenous Language or Francophone Album: Jaaji — Nunaga (My Home, My Land)

Best Indigenous Music Radio Station or Program: National Aboriginal Music Countdown (NCI-FM)

Best Indigenous Songwriter: Armond Duck Chief —The One

Best Instrumental Album: Sean Beaver — Torn

Best International Indigenous Release: The Bass Invaders — Dance of the Fox

Best Music Video: Drezus — Warpath

Best New Artist: Kelly Derrickson

Best Peyote Album: Silas & Pierce Biglefthand — Northern Cheyenne Peyote Healing Songs

Best Pop Album: Classic Roots — Hack The Planet

Best Powwow Album Contemporary: Northern Cree — Northern Cree Breaking Boundaries

Best Powwow Album Traditional: Chippewa Travellers — Honouring Our Biish (Water)

Best Producer/Engineer: Drezus — Indian Summer

Best Rap/Hip-Hop Album: Drezus — Indian Summer

Best Rock Album: Will Belcourt and the Hollywood Indians — Annie Baby

Best Television Program/Promotion of Indigenous Music: The Candy Show

Indigenous Entertainer of the Year: Drezus

Single of the Year: City Native — Straight Chief 'n - CBC News

"Rapper Drezus Dominates Canada’s Indigenous Music Awards 10-Year Anniversary"

At the 10th annual Manito Ahbee Festival in Winnipeg, Manitoba on Sept. 11, Alberta-based hip hop artist Drezus dominated the Indigenous Music Awards (IMAs), taking home four major honors, including trophies for Best Rap/Hip Hop CD, Best Music Video, Best Producer/Engineer and Indigenous Entertainer of the Year.

This year's event, which was previously named the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards, featured more than 100 nominees in 24 categories, including Hip Hop, Country, Rock and Traditional Indigenous music from artists all over North America.

The 33-year-old Plains Cree (real name: Jeremiah Manitopyes), has been rapping in a thunderous baritone about the heartache and harsh realities of life in Indian Country for nearly 16 years. But it was his recently released album “Indian Summer” that pushed him to the forefront of the emerging Native hip hop scene. The hard-hitting video from that album, Warpath (see video at the end of this article) which takes on absentee fathers and petty tribal politics, was directed by Stuey Kubrick, and won the best music video award.

Drezus, who fought his way back from alcoholism, gang violence, multiple jail sentences and near-death, got his break at a Jamaican club in Calgary at 17, but it wasn’t until 2012 that he left the violent world of crime and drugs and began pursuing a new direction at the local library with his young son. What started with checking out books on Native culture and protesting Canada’s controversial environmental C-45 bill, culminated on Friday night with top honors from his peers in the industry.

The IMAs have been celebrating the contributions of Indigenous artists from across Turtle Island for the past 10 years. Other multiple award winners were Armond Duck Chief, (Best Country CD & Best Indigenous Songwriter) and City Natives, (Best Duo or Group and Single of the Year).

The 10-year anniversary IMA celebration was hosted by actor/rap recording artist Gary Davis, aka Litefoot (Cherokee Nation), and Lorne Cardinal (Corner Gas). The evening also featured powerful live performances by Lightning Cloud with Manitoba’s Leonard Sumner, Tomson Highway and Ghost Town Orchestra, among others.

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/09/15/rapper-drezus-dominates-canadas-indigenous-music-awards-10-year-celebration-161745 - Indian Country News Today

"First Nations hip hop artist promotes cultural healing through music"

EDMONTON — Jeremiah Manitopyes, whose native name is Old Man Eagle, is known to most as Drezus, his hip hop moniker. The 32-year-old has been following his musical passion for over 10 years.

Now, he has been nominated for four Indigenous Music Awards.

His first introduction to hip hop was listening to Run-DMC. The lyrics blew his mind.

“I was like ‘whoa, these guys are saying crazy stuff! They don’t care what they’re saying.’ But what I started realizing was that certain people did care what they are saying.”

He started rhyming to help him express his emotions and experiences as a youth.

“Growing up I was a loner kid. I was really open to a lot of things and hip hop was one of them.”
Drezus came from a rough background. He grew up in Saskatchewan, struggled with addiction, even spent some time in jail.

He joined Team Rezoffical in 2004 and they released the song “Lonely” in 2008. It climbed the Much Music hip hop charts.

However, Drezus’ struggles with the law didn’t come to an end. But, the last time he was behind bars he learned about bringing in positive energy. He was shown his own First Nations culture, taught how to make drums and to sing his traditional Ojibwa songs.

“When I learned more of a respect for myself, I learned more of a respect for everything else.”

After being released into the recovery program, Drezus says connecting with roots is what allowed him to see who he really was as an aboriginal person.

“Hop hip was an extension of who I was and wanted to be,” he explained. “But once I connected with the cultural aspect, that’s when [I was] like ‘OK this is me.'”

Now, Drezus has begun working with youth through several organizations, including the YMCA in Calgary.

“They’re used to seeing the rap guys in the videos – the gangsters – they look up to that for some reason, but I kind of slide into that, that whole world. I fill that image for them, but then when I start talking about positive things, they really listen.

The rapper wants to encourage kids to be fearless on their journey to self-discovery.

Drezus is up for four Indigenous Music Awards this year: Indigenous Entertainer of the Year, Producer of the Year, Best Hip Hop Album, and Best Music Video. The award show will be held in Winnipeg in September. - Global News


Indigenous rappers in Canada reflect on a unique struggle. In a country where the most incarcerated population is aboriginal, these artists reflect on the crisis of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women, conflicts around resource extraction on native land, and the protest movement Idle No More, which galvanized aboriginal communities from coast to coast. Indigenous rap doesn't get enough attention outside of its vibrant scene. VICE host Rich Kidd went to Regina, Winnipeg and his hometown Toronto to meet some of the scene’s big names like Drezus, Winnipeg Boyz and David Strickland and up-and-comer T-Rhyme. - Noisey-VICE


2014 - Indian Summer (iTunes)
2013 - Red Winter (iTunes)
2012 - Big Baby Dreez (Mixtape)
2010 - Drezus Walks (Mixtape)



Drezus, a fixture of the Indigenous hip hop scene in Canada for over a decade, is a well-known MC making noise all over Turtle Island and beyond. 

Fusing a classic hip hop background with a deep connection to his First Nations heritage, his searing lyrics convey a message of empowerment and resilience in the face of struggle, which speaks to fans both young and old all over the world. In 2009 he was nominated for a JUNO Award alongside his former group Team Rezofficial. His 2013 single "Red Winter" was the unofficial anthem of the continent-wide Idle No More protest movement and becomes more relevant by the day. He took home four Indigenous Music Awards in 2015 for his album Indian Summer and gained an international following after appearing on media outlets like Vice, Noisey, The Fader, Pitchfork, CNN and MIC.

From the trap beat and booming vocals on the hit single "Warpath" to melodic hooks that punctuate his articulate rhymes, Drezus makes important music with a message that cannot be ignored. His music inspires people of all nations and generations. He recently caught the ear of Taboo from The Black Eyed Peas and has been in Los Angeles working in the studio for a good part of the first quarter of 2017. With a new album expected to drop this summer and a recent MTV VMA nomination with Taboo, this year is shaping up to be his biggest yet. 

Band Members