It is arguable that hip hop is in a vulnerable state, but a Penticton MC is holding on to the culture and spreading a positive vibe his own way.
“We really want to promote cultural awareness as well as other issues. I want to do motivational hip hop shows and not have a stereotypical, I’m going to get drunk or high because that is what a lot of people think hip hop is,” said K.A.S.P. (Rob Sawan). “Hip hop is about expressing yourself and really sharing your story,” said Sawan.
Sawan is bringing that often overlooked part of the art by the general public to the Penticton Art Gallery for The End of The World As We Know It exhibit. On Friday the MC who lives on the Penticton Indian Reserve and is a well-known public speaker across Canada will take the stage.
The artists’ personal story is more like a long novel that started growing up in East Vancouver and experienced multi-generational trauma and abuse brought upon his family and community from the residential school era. Sawan grew up in and out of the care of the child welfare system, eventually ended up in group homes and spent time living on the street. He turned to music as a way to escape the hard reality of living in the dysfunctional cycle of alcoholism and drug abuse. Once struggling with his own personal issues and alcoholism, he has moved forward to share his story through his traditional and spiritual beliefs. Sawan now travels to communities spreading his positivity and helping youth that are facing many of the issues he has come through to find solutions to avoid them. He is about to embark on a new project called Save Many In Loving Everyone (SMILE) that will focus on anti-bullying.
Sawan was invited to be part of the Penticton Art Gallery exhibit to compliment the night of art and culture held earlier this week at the Shatford Centre that featured the En’owkin Centre’s faculty, staff and second year students. Just as a painter or sculptor must hone their craft, so does an MC. But for Sawan the music is more than that, it is a lifestyle.
“You ask a lot of people what the four elements of hip hop are and maybe one or two will know. They don’t realize it is a whole culture of its own. It is a lifestyle and you don’t just wake up one morning and say your going to be a rapper, DJ, graf artist or maybe a breakdancer because you got a new tracksuit,” said Sawan. “It is a whole culture and the fact that culture can mix with other cultures is awesome. The fact that I am aboriginal and in hip hop is so cool because there is so much to pick from music-wise and in the stories.”
Sawan is also getting ready to release a new CD in early 2013, featuring Chino XL, Rayne and other artists from across Canada. Already one single is available on iTunes called Intertribal featuring powwow group Northern Cree.
“I have really been taking my time because I want to make sure the CD is good and from the sneak peeks I have put out to family and friends and performing some of the new songs live, everyone has been loving it. The CD is going to be an early-90s type hip hop, real grassroots. This will be real raw hip hop, at least what I believe is real hip hop anyways,” said Sawan.
The all ages, by donation hip hop show gets underway at 7 p.m. with a DJ spinning until 8 p.m. when Indelible takes the stage. The Vancouver duo just got off tour with Swollen Members. At 9 p.m. K.A.S.P. will take the stage then the DJ will finish the night off.
K.A.S.P. will be hosting a workshop on Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m. covering similarities of hip hop and Native culture, the writing process and invite participants to write a song to perform.