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AltWire Interview with Charlie Fettah

Charlie Fettah is The Bridge of Winnipeg Hip-Hop

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…

Winnipeg, Manitoba

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.

Minnesota-I-94

I-94 West is not the place to be in the Winter!

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.

Winnipeg's-Most (charlie Fettah, Jon C, & Brooklyn

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!

You can see Charlie Fettah’s latest video, Rats and Snakes, by clicking the link below!Charlie Fettah x NSTY - Rats & Snakes

Follow/Subscribe Charlie Fettah

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/1ikDBtKqe0jj0CqwLFGups?si=9KNuPk7dQkyv9EN9cQfHRw

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/officialcharliefettah

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/charliefettah/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXLzEc_oBsGhsUGvLUJzaiA

Twitter: https://twitter.com/charliefettah

NTMF Cube Stage 2019

NTMF 2019: Northern Touch Music Festival is the Real Deal

Northern Touch Music Festival is a Godsend for Indie Artists

NTMF 2019 was held in the historic Exchange District of Winnipeg, Manitoba. 

NTMF 2019

Photo by Kris Regacho

Winnipeg is known for a lot of things. It is known for it’s diversity, it boasts the largest percentage of Filipino population in North America, among an array of other cultures from Aboriginal to Scottish. 

But, there is a new culture emerging in Winnipeg, that not many people outside of “Peg City” are aware of.

This culture is called Hip-Hop.

However, I have to mention that Winnipeg did have one of the dopest Hip-Hop groups in independent hip-hop in Winnipeg’s Most, who repped Aboriginals and the streets hard as hell. 

Winnipeg's Most

Winnipeg’s Most

Unfortunately, tragedy befell the group in 2013 when one of its members, Jon-C was arrested after a police raid yielded drugs. One of Winnipeg Most’s other members, Brooklyn, passed in 2015. The third member, Charlie Fettah, is still active as a solo act. 

Fast-forward to 2017, and Hip-Hop is alive and prospering in Canada. In the U.S., the first name we think of when associating Hip-Hop in Canada is Drake. 

However, Canada is a huge country outside of Toronto, and its population’s have the same urban and life experiences as we have here in the States. Those experiences are what define Hip-Hop, and make it music’s most diverse genre. 

The amount of Hip-Hop activity happening in Canada is impossible to measure using the Richter scale. There is a large-magnitude quake looming in the near future, Canadians. It will be felt from Nova Scotia to Ontario. It will rattle car trunks and graffiti murals painted on brick walls in Alberta and Manitoba. 

When seismologists are finally able to pinpoint its source, they will find it’s epicenter in Winnipeg.

In the Exchange District.

NTMF 2019

Northern Touch Music Festival (NTMF) was founded in 2017, by Shea Malcolmson. Shea himself is a Hip-Hop artist and visionary, who goes above and beyond to ensure that Hip-Hop becomes a staple of Winnipeg culture.

Shea Malcolmson

Shea Malcolmson  Photo by Ambush Vin

This is how their website describes the Festival: 

NTMF was created with the same DIY spirit, drive & resilience that helped shape Canadian hip-hop into what it has become today. 

We pay homage to the pioneers of Canadian hip-hop and guide ourselves using the same principles of our past artists and cultural trailblazers, to grow the Canadian industry and create tangible opportunities for artists seeking self-development. 

We put artist education first, we break down barriers to accessibility and we empower artists.

I can sum up my NTMF experience with three words:

Dope As F—.

There was a smorgasbord of artists and bands performing at the Festival. It was mostly Hip-Hop, but the best aspect of NTMF was the amount of positive and loving vibes in the air between artists of different genres and cultures! 

NTMF Cube Stage 2019

Photo by David Marcus

Globally, Hip-Hop is associated with violence and bad manners in general. 

The world looks for a reason to justify violence and disregard for the rule of law in impoverished communities. Hip-Hop was found in those communities, and is the vehicle that we use to tell the stories of those communities. 

People who demonize Hip-Hop music choose to “drink the Kool-Aid” and ignore the many injustices that are exposed via an Artist’s lyrics. These same injustices end in long prison sentences or tragedy in urban communities. Although Hip-Hop has evolved to become inclusive of all cultures, it is still considered to be a characteristic of bad behavior and criminal activity.   

NTMF proved the last three paragraphs to be an overused stereotype. 

Shea and the NTMF Staff managed to get Artists and Attendees of different cultures, from different environments and lifestyles together for a fun-filled weekend, even in the presence of plenty of alcohol and yes…marijuana (which is 100% legal in Canada!).

I was very impressed that NTMF was actually about Artist Empowerment, Growth, and Showcase. 

A lot of festivals that I attend are obvious cash grabs: poorly organized, a couple of artists with recognizable names to draw people in and justify their outrageous ticket prices. In some cases, they even charge the Artist a performance fee to perform one song. They offer nothing that contributes to Artist growth or knowledge.

NTMF hosted an array of seminars that were designed to empower and arm artists with knowledge that would further their careers. The best part of these seminars is that they offered first-hand knowledge, given by NTMF 2019 Delegates who have all found success in the music industry. 

NTMF 2019 Seminar

Photo by Ambush Vin

These seminars taught everything from Sync/Licensing to Social Media Management. The delegates also took time to speak to all of the hungry artists and answer questions. As an artist myself, I can say that I left with a lot of knowledge that I did not have!

The seminars were only the tip of the platter. There were so many Artist and Resource networking opportunities at NTMF, that two weeks later, I am still sorting through business cards, pluggers, and CDs. 

Meanwhile, at the Cube Stage, the lit performances continued peacefully, and the Beer Garden was overflowing. The food trucks were on deck, and Smoke’s Poutinerie was only a few steps away from the Cube Stage, ready to serve Canada’s best poutine to anyone who was hungry (and they had vegetarian options. A plus for me!).

NTMF Beer Garden

Photo by Ambush Vin

 

Another aspect of the live performances I was impressed by was the excellent, crisp sound. We’ve all been to THOSE concerts before right? When I say those, I mean THOSE shows where you hear the background music, but not the artist.

Dave and Jonathon, the A/V guys, did an excellent job ensuring that wasn’t the case with any of the performances at the Cube Stage or the aftersets. Speaking of sound, the DJs: Benz, Disspare, Henny, P.O.W., Kilma, and NTMF President DJ Bunny did a hell of a job cueing everyone’s music and keeping the party turned up in between performances. 

Winnipeg DJ Benz

DJ Disspare

DJ Disspare    Photo by David Marcus

DJ Kilma

DJ Kilma   Photo by Ambush Vin

It was extremely hard for my associate photographers, David Marcus and Kris, to focus on shooting photos for this article, because we were vibing to this huge array of artists that we hadn’t heard before. 

I vibed to artists like Gatson, whose lyrics painted such a vivid picture of The Struggle – caps intended – that I found myself reminiscing about my existence as a “Food Stamp” kid, tempted by the false sense of glamour that the drug game offered. 

Gatson

Gatson    Photo by Ambush Vin

Another artist, Dr. Duru, almost made me drop my camera, because I was so turnt! His performance was so lit, I forgot that I really can’t dance, and found myself bouncing in the field everywhere. 

Dr Duru

Dr Duru    Photo by Ambush Vin

Hip-Hop wordsmith Wordburglar came from Nova Scotia to give an energetic performance about his friend’s older brother, a bully who did strange things like watch Blade Runner and play Altered Beast.

Wordburglar

Wordburglar    Photo by Ambush Vin

Cypha Diaz murdered his performance, even accepting a random audience member’s challenge to a freestyle battle after his set.

EPDMC and Jeffrey slayed the audience with some of the best bars Nova Scotia has to offer, prompting Shea to call the Fire Department to put the flames out on the Cube Stage when their performance was over. 

EPDMC

EPDMC    Photo by Ambush Vin

Jeffrey

Jeffrey    Photo by Ambush Vin

Just Kidding. 

I was captivated by Boog Brown’s performance. A Detroit native, she proved that she could stand toe-to-toe with the best names with the bars that she spit.

Boog Brown

Boog Brown    Photo by Ambush Vin

And that guy, Ambush Vin was, well…

Ambush Vin

Ambush Vin     Photo by Kris Regacho

One of my most memorable moments was being introduced to the music of singers Courtney Devon (Amadians) and Kenzie Jane. These ladies combined to give a Woodstock-worthy performance on stage that would later on have me and my “tour guide” Harvey walking from the Cube Stage to see them perform at Canada Day at the Forks. 

Courtney Devon Kenzie Jane

Courtney Devon and Kenzie Jane    Photo by Ambush Vin

(For those of us who don’t live in Winnipeg, think walking from the Mandalay Bay to Freemont…twice.) 

There were so many great artists, that I would have to dedicate more space than AltWire would give me to name them all! 

Winnipeg’s mayor, Brian Bowman, even stopped by to show his support for the festival, and Hip-Hop, telling and showing people that Hip-Hop is an important part of Winnipeg’s diverse culture. I was impressed!

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman, Shea, & Wordburglar     Photo by Ambush Vin

But, the show didn’t stop at the Cube stage, because, in the famous words of Jay-Z, after the show it’s the afterparty!

NTMF’s afterpartys were at Footw3rk Dance Club and The Royal Albert. There, I was introduced to more flame artists like Flamenco Sketch, Sir Louie, The Filthy Animals, Nappy, and Xplycit, who all gave phenomenal performances. 

Flamenco Sketch

Flamenco Sketch      Photo by Ambush Vin

As a special wrap-up performance, Shea gave an impressive, and unexpected, performance of his lit new content at The Royal Albert. It is worth mentioning that, Shea has a policy that he didn’t want to perform at his own event, that this was all about the artists. This was more of a thank you performance to the last few people who stayed until the final second. 

Shea

Photo by Ambush Vin

Although NTMF is really Shea’s creation, it felt more like it was all of our festival. In fact, NTMF didn’t just feel like a mere festival, it felt like I walked out of my front door, and entered the house through the back. 

Although I was over 900 miles away, Northern Touch Music Festival made me feel like I had never left home.

Check-Out our NTMF 2019 Wrap-Up Video on YouTube! Altwire NTMF Wrap-Up Video

Hear our interview with Shea and Pauline below!

Here are more pictures from NTMF 2019!

Amadians at The Forks - Canada Day

Amadians – Young Hearts Fail [AltWire Review]

It’s so refreshing to hear a feel good song about young love in 2019. 

Too often, we hear about the woes of young love, and how we should all avoid it at all costs. We associate young love with puppies, which in my opinion is unfair to all of the adorable puppies being compared with pre-evolved humans, who shy away from natural emotions. 

Jilted lovers utter the word ‘love’ as if they time-traveled from 14th century Europe, to warn us about this imminent plague called Young Love that would befall modern-day Earth.

I hate to tell our time-weary friends, Black Death didn’t win. But, young love does.

Amadians’ Young Heart Fails should be mandatory on every doubtful lover’s playlist. The vibe of this song screams positive vibes. It is literally impossible to have a negative thought while this song is playing.

Believe me, I tried.

I thought of everything from my ex-wife to U.S. politics, all I could see were the positive aspects of both! Amadians lead vocalist Courtney Devon has such an amazing, soulful, & powerful voice that somehow manages to be mellow and soothing at the same time.  Her voice goes perfectly with the positive vibe of this song, as she sings:

You may never know what you’ve given me

But I can’t show you what’s impossible to see

They say young hearts fail, well, we prove them wrong

They’re on the sidelines just singing along

Amadians band members James Roth (guitars), Ian Powell (bass), and Kyle Fox (drums), give a hell of a performance during the bridge span of the song. While James’ lead guitar solo slightly stands out in front, it’s not so commanding that it drowns out Ian or Kyle’s equally impressive performances. 

Young Hearts Fail manages to have the lyrics of a ballad, while being an upbeat song. The lyrics that Courtney sing on the hook proves this:

Here’s to our nights never wasted

Days filled with memories created

Here’s to the one person who never let me down

Who tells me I’m beautiful without making a sound

On a side note, I had the pleasure of meeting Courtney, as well as singer Kenzie Jane, in Winnipeg at Northern Touch Music Festand watching her perform on Canada Day at the Forks. I can tell you from experience that the positive energy that she displays on Young Hearts Fail is not just a showcase. Watching her performance at the Forks, you could tell that she was really into her performance, as she danced all around the stage and spread all of her positive vibes into the audience.

Courtney Devon
Courtney Devon at Canada Day at The Forks in Winnipeg
Courtney Devon and Kenzie Jane at NTMF 2019
 Courtney Devon and Kenzie Jane at NTMF 2019
Sometimes, couples tend to lose their way and find themselves in dark places and wo

nder, “How did we get here?” This song will also remind its listeners of the reason they fell in love with each other in the first place, and that love is all that matters. I also recommend Young Hearts Fail as an addition to every loving couple’s playlists, including older couples, because real love makes us all feel young again right?  Visit Amadians on their site at: https://amadians.com to follow them on social media! Follow Kenzie Jane at: https://instagram.com/kenziejanemusic and click here to hear her music on YouTube