Legend of the Lyricist - Canadian Edition #1: Charlie Fettah
Charlie Fettah is all about securing the bag for his family. The former Winnipeg’s Most lyricist took the time out of his day to sit for a video interview with me, although his tour began the next day.
Here’s the video interview, but stick around to read the story behind it all…
I’m pretty modest about my achievements.
That being said, this is one achievement that I am going to pat myself on the shoulder for.
For the record, I am not talking about this two-part interview. Don’t get me wrong, this interview was nothing short of dope! But, before I even talk about Charlie Fettah, I seriously have to question the sanity of people who drive regularly to Canada via I-94 West after September 30th.
Yes, this includes myself.
Being from Chicagoland, I thought I knew the definition of lake-effect snow. I mean, we are on the southern edge of Lake Michigan, only the fifth-largest lake in the frickin world. I thought that our lake-effect blizzards were legendary. I hear the stories about the blizzards of ’67 and ’78 all the time from the old-timers. I also have my own stories from my own young-old lifetime.
Little did I know that we all are only in basic training…not for a military division, but potty training. I sure could have used a diaper, as I crept down I-94 in my rental car at 35 mph down an almost pitch-black highway through Wisconsin and Minnesota at 3 AM. When I left home, it was almost 60 degrees with clear skies. Who knew that just 5 hours north, I was entering Dante’s Third Circle of Hell?
I could’ve gotten through Minnesota faster if I had worn ice skates. The entire highway was one long sheet of ice.
Oh, and pocket blizzards. I will eternally view semi-trucks in a different light, as they were the only reason my trip wasn’t delayed by another 8 hours. They created lanes in the snow-covered highway, and I just followed their lights. I’m a vampire by nature, but I prayed for the daylight to come!
I finally made it to the Canadian Border at 12 pm…fifteen hours after I left home. According to Waze, the drive from Northwest Indiana to Winnipeg was only eleven hours and 30 minutes. Needless to say, I am switching back to Google Maps as my navigation tool of choice.
After being held up another grueling 2 hours at customs, I was finally in Canada! But, I still had another 90 minutes to get to Winnipeg. I was so far behind schedule, there was no way that I was going to get any sleep. This was my only window to get this interview, because Charlie was starting a tour the next day. I didn’t just drive 17 ½ hours straight for nothing!
I was also there to shoot a music video for my song, Sub-Polar Rain, which meant that I wasn’t going to sleep anytime soon!
Note to Charlie Fettah: “Fam, thanks for the interview. But, I really have to thank you for the Road Warrior patch that I earned for driving to Winnipeg this time of year!”
(In my Denzel voice): “Ice Road Truckers ain’t got s*** on me!”|
Right. Now that my rant is out of the way…
Charlie Fettah is an authentic dude. He welcomed me to his coffee shop on Garry Street with open arms. I honestly felt like Fam, with a capital ‘F’. As we shook hands when I walked into the shop, I could already tell that this was going to be a trill interview. This was my first time meeting Fettah, although I had heard his music, both solo and with Winnipeg’s Most.
In case you haven’t heard of Winnipeg’s Most (Jon-C, Brooklyn, and Charlie Fettah), they were true pioneers in not only Winnpeg’s hip-hop scene, but also repped hard for the Aboriginal community too. As you will hear in the video interview, they were aptly named too…because they literally did the most. However, regardless of the stereotypes associated with the Aboriginal community, and hip-hop as a whole, they found success. That’s the main thing that I would like to stress in this article.
In America, it’s urban Blacks and Hispanics that are stereotyped. In Winnipeg, the struggle belongs to Aboriginal, or Indigenous, people. Instead of celebrating the persistence and strength that it takes to survive our concrete jungles, we are demonized and harassed for being products of the environments that we were born in. For the most part, all we want is a seat at the table.
I’m not talking about the boardroom table. I mean the dinner table. We want to eat too. “Minority” culture and art has been exploited for centuries, with the majority of our labor and profit benefiting families and households that are outside of our communities.
Sorry, but not sorry. That’s the reality of it. It’s hypocritical to profit from our cultures, but then villify the people that created it.
So, how does Charlie Fettah, who is white, fit into all of this? As he states in the interview, he really didn’t need to be in the streets. He came from a working-class background, and wasn’t born into poverty. Yet, he found himself in the streets and eventually prison. He even keeps it a hundred about his race being a factor in his early release from prison. We chopped it up for a good minute about everything Charlie Fettah, the history of Winnipeg’s Most, and yes, streetlife.
Unfortunately, after winning numerous awards and accolades in the Hip-Hop industry, Brooklyn passed away.. After meeting Charlie, and hearing all of the wild stories, I wish that I would have had the opportunity to chop it up with him too!
I loved this interview, because for the most part, I just sat and listened as Charlie talked. The only thing that was missing was an old oil barrel, a fire, and some old man singing. I left the coffee shop feeling as if I was the one who got interviewed, and not the other way around. But, I prefer to interview rappers who have actually lived the struggle and lived in the grime. Those are the real stories that we need to tell, the ones where readers can feel and understand the struggle and hard work that it took to find success.
Tune in next Tuesday to see the second part of this interview. You don’t want to miss it!
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