Indigenous hip hop artist Plex has joined the legion of artists who've been inspired by the Idle No More movement, recording "No More," a rousing single in support of the cause. It kicks off with a sound bite taken from John Lennon's September 11, 1971 appearance on The Dick Cavett Show. The video is embedded below; Plex is also offering the sound as a free download (direct link at Mediafire).
What inspired you to write this song — was there a particular moment or aspect that drew you to Idle No More?
For years, I've made it my mission to expose companies that want to get rich from natural resources and how they suppress technologies that would set us free from our dependence on oil. Corporations who want to feed us medications for ailments brought on by the toxins in foods sold to us by their allies. Banking cartels that keep most of us enslaved by setting us up to accumulate debt, and spend the remainder of our lives dedicating full days, working to pay it off.
When the government of Canada proposed Bill C45 and eventually passed it, there were a few things within the bill that affected me. Most importantly, it was the major impact this bill had on the safety of the land and water. It also made amendments to certain agreements between the Canadian Government and First Nations, that were made without consulting First Nations people.
When Idle No More was born, they wanted to draw attention to these issues. Large groups of First Nations people gathered across the country in opposition and the media paid no attention to it. In fact, one of the major stories that flooded the media that week was a monkey in a fur coat running loose in a furniture store. From that moment on, I knew that more people would have to support the movement and draw attention to it, using social media, the protests, and the flash mob round dances. In essence, we needed to collectively do exactly what the hashtag suggested, and stop being idle.
When Idle No More finally starting making headlines, I began to notice that the majority of Canadians were unaware that Bill C45 also had a major negative impact on them, in addition to First Nations people. I figured that since I have a fan base that includes both First Nations and non-indigenous people who know me for my stance on political and social issues, I was obligated to call attention to it.
I started writing this song in mid-December. I had only written the first verse, and I had sent out a rough skeleton of the song to 3 other artists to see if they'd want to collaborate on it. All 3, either didn't see the potential in the song becoming what it has, or just didn't like the idea of it. But after sitting on it for almost 2 months, I immediately wrote a second verse, recorded, mixed and mastered it myself.
How did the song and video come about? Whom did you collaborate with?
In 2008, I started working with and performing at concerts with Jason Jenkins aka DJ Divinyl. He also an excellent photographer. I was up late one night, adding finishing touches to the song and I sent Divinyl an MP3 of it. He suggested we head down to one of the protests and get some footage to add to other protest footage he had shot recently. Afterward, he immediately sat down to edit the video. I think he spent 2 straight days putting it together. On minimal sleep. What came next was what you see in the video.
Can you tell us about the John Lennon quote? Is it the kind of thing you'd been wanting to use or did you discover it recently?
During the first couple weeks of the movement, there was this enormous tension between both sides of the Idle No More movement. I say both sides, because there are many First Nations and people around the world who stand behind it and there are many Canadians who are completely against it. While this was going on, numerous internet memes and videos supporting indigenous rights started to circulate via social media. One of them was the John Lennon sound bite I would later use. It was only about 20 seconds long, so I searched for the complete interview on the Dick Cavett show. I watched the entire episode and this clip wasn't even aired in the original broadcast. So I searched some more and found this 10 minute clip where John Lennon and Dick Cavett talk about how the US government doesn't support the rights of the "red Indians." I thought it was great. But I had to narrow it down to 30 seconds, so I chopped it up a bit. I've always admired John Lennon. He stood for so many of the same beliefs I have. I mean, come on…. All you need is Love? Love is all you need? Is that not what life is really about? It's simple, but brilliant.
What is your own view of Idle No More? What does it mean to you?
Here's my opinion. World governments have always had some type of hidden agenda throughout history. Whether they keep the public in the dark because they don't think we can handle the truth, or if they just don't want us to to rise up together and stop it, either way, they have always lied to us. We'd be fools to assume they recently had a change of heart.
I believe Bill C45 was never about First Nations people. First Nations people just happen to stand between the corporations and the natural resources. They will stop at nothing to get it. You've seen it in Iraq. You've seen it in Afghanistan. Think about it. You have to follow the money trail. Start at the bottom. What have we got? Oil. You can't go much farther down than that. Who is situated above some of the largest oil deposits on the planet? First Nations people. Who has had a long standing battle with First Nations people? The Canadian and American governments. Who assembles these governments? Big Oil. Big Pharma. The banking cartels. They spend billions lobbying to get select politicians into office and finance the campaigns of past, present and future world leaders. Whole cabinets are made up of former corporate bankers, oil execs and people from similar industries.
Look, oxycontin is one of the most widely prescribed and abused prescription drugs on the planet. Afghanistan produces more than 90% of the world's opium. The Canadian and American governments have spent several years occupying Afghanistan through military. They create a myth about why they are really there, but what it really comes down to is procuring the natural resources. They did the same to get oil and gold from Iraq. Now, why aren't they just killing off First Nations people like they do in Iraq and Afghanistan? Because we walk amongst what they need most — consumers. No, they have to be more inventive in their ways of conquering us. They will set us up to think what they're doing is good for First Nations. That we need their help to acquire individual ownership of pieces of reserve land. That way, we can use the property to secure bank and car loans and increase the chance of losing it to them. Some of us can be bought. They're the ones who remain silent while our people suffer and face attack from the media, government and corporations. But the majority of First Nations people are tired of the longstanding exploitation from the these entities. That is what IdleNoMore is all about.
What can native artists and celebrities bring to Idle No More? Do you feel an obligation to use your platform as a pulpit?
I definitely feel we have the power to unite the people through song. Music is the Universal language. The more songs, the merrier. Whatever brings people, from all walks of life, together.
Idle No More has spawned a lot of art and music already. Whose work have you followed?
I really loved the tracks from Drezus, Jasper, Rellik, Nathan Cunningham & Wab Kinew/Charlie Fettah/Young Kidd/Boogey The Beat.
Do you have further plans to make or collaborate on Idle No More music?
I've already written a new song that doesn't so much mention Idle No More but tackles other issues having to do with the environment. You can count on more songs from me, nonetheless.
Will this song find its way onto a future Plex album?
I've made the song available for free download. I noticed some other artists are offering that sales from their songs will go to the Idle No More movement — personally, I have no idea what that means. So, free download. I may include it on a "greatest hits" or something, ha ha.