5:00PM • SUNDAY, AUGUST 21 • KOOP TENT
Eekwol is a celebrated hip hop artist who’s been representing for Indigenous women for over 20 years. She released her first self-titled album in 1998. Her identity as a Muskoday First Nations woman, and a mother, in what we now call Saskatchewan, Canada, is honoured consistently in her music. An indie artist, Eekwol is also very connected to her musical family—she owns a record, production and distribution company with her brother Mils called Mils Production. Their collaborative album, Apprentice to the Mystery, won Best Hip Hop/Rap album at the 2005 Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards, and was nominated at the Indian Summer Music Awards and the Aboriginal Peoples’ Choice Music Awards. In addition to Mils, Eekwol has worked with Indigenous artists across Canada, including A Tribe Called Red’s 2oolman, Boogey The Beat, Zoey Roy, hip hop crew Innersoulflow, Marc Longjohn, Os12, Manik, and Rez Official.
Eekwol harnessed the integrity of hip hop and Indigenous cultures, and the people who paved the way, architecting a uniquely female-driven and knowledge-based hip hop scene in the Prairies. Her socially conscious lyrics–which sometimes oscillate between English and Cree–often speak to Indigenous youth, are deeply critical of colonial and patriarchal arrangements, and are communicated with intentional and dense messaging. She describes her songs as militant and emotional at times, and states that hip hop is the best medium for her to express her complicated and interwoven identities and experiences.
Eekwol connects these complexities to a long and unresolved history of cultural genocide, oppression and stolen land. Drawn to the more underground works of hip hop artists that speak explicitly about the social, political and economic ills of modern life, Eekwol rhymes and sounds her unique and oftentimes overlooked stories in familiar boom-bap styled hip hop. Her work has received significant play on community and college radio, and her videos have appeared on Much Music, MTV Canada and the Aboriginal Peoples’ Television Network.
Eekwol’s work as a lyricist and beat maker complement her academic work; her Masters degree from the University of Saskatchewan focused on Indigenous music and histories. The teachings embedded in her music are also captured in Northside Hip Hop’s Education Resources outlined in the curriculum for a grade 10 music class. The “Make Room: Women Emcees” lesson engages with Eekwol’s song, dedicated to her daughter and all daughters: “Kisay’s Song (Iskeweak Iskotew Tapwewin).” Her song and music video are part of a lesson designed to promote anti-racist pedagogy and reflect on culture, community, tradition and art.
Eekwol has dropped knowledge at shows and festivals across Canada, including Lady Fest Ottawa, Vancouver’s Sistahood, Imagine Native, Pigeon John’s set, Prairie Scene Festival, and Regina Folk Festival (see several flyers and articles profiled in her NSHHA Collection). During the 2017 Northside Hip Hop event, “I Was There!: A Celebration of Saskatoon Women in Hip Hop,” Eekwol and musical collaborator T-Rhyme spoke about the interconnections between Black culture, Indigenous people and gender, showcased on their recent joint album titled F.W.B.W (For Women By Women, 2019). Knight also works as a youth mentor, serves on the Indigenous Advisory Council, and became the Program Consultant for Aboriginal Arts and Community Engagement for the Saskatchewan Arts Board in 2015.