It’s not everyone who can rap about health stats. But Winnipeg-based rap/hip-hop artist Wab Kinew, an Aboriginal People’s Choice Music Awards winner in 2009 and a CBC radio producer, shows us how it’s done in this video that weaves the numbers in with telling images as he narrates from a snowy rural backdrop while flashing back and forth to urban scenes.
“Stereotypes where they like to hold me/cuz they think I’m just one of the homeys. (But I’m not.)/I’m unhealthy is what they told me, but damn—you don’t even know me,” Kinew raps. “There’s no box of the census big enough to hold me./If you walk in my shoes, only then can you know me.”
Kinew emphasizes some of the most gripping stats with lines like, “About 20 percent of boys and 10 percent of girls/think about cutting short their time in this world./Of the six percent who have acted on that thinking, three-quarters of them have been drinking,” and then cuts away from the rap to get in your face with the same stat, sans music or backdrop.
The video, which incorporates data from Phase 2 of the Regional Health Survey from the First Nations Information Governance Centre (FNIGC), was shown at the Assembly of First Nations General Assembly in Moncton, New Brunswick, which took place from July 12–14.
The Aboriginal People’s Choice Music Awards website calls the rapper a “one-of-a-kind musical talent, becoming one of the artists to watch for from the Western Provinces.”
“Underestimated because I am a youth. But I am the future and I am the truth,” Kinew intones. “I’m doing great, hey, thanks for asking. That survey was nice, now it’s time for some action.”
See for yourself, and listen up.