As Penticton entertainer Kasp was mobilizing indigenous voters ahead of the Oct. 19 federal election, his latest album, Living Tha Good Life, was voted West Coast Rap Album Of The Year at the 2015 Canadian Urban Television Hip Hop Awards.
“I was up against some amazing talent,” he said, citing Madchild, Caspian, Merkules and Moka Only as competing artists in the category. “I was humbled. I’m not a battle rapper anymore, I’m a motivator, so to be up against talented rappers who are still making waves in Vancouver, it’s just amazing.”
Votes were cast by people of all demographics, and Kasp, whose real name is Rob Sawan, said he’s most happy about the win knowing his work was acknowledged by hip-hop fans of both aboriginal and non-aboriginal heritage.
Because his work both as a motivator and a musician are intertwined, he ensures that his messages are always memorable and meaningful, such as his involvement with Rock the Indigenous Vote.
“If you want a change, if you want to make something happen, don’t just sit back and think about it, go out and do something about it. Vote and ruffle some feathers. Make sure your voice is heard, because I think Stephen Harper was relying on indigenous and young people not voting.”
Referring to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s quip that it’s 2015, Kasp said change was bound to happen and lauded Trudeau for naming a cabinet with gender parity. He’s expecting the direction of the new federal government to have some impact on the new material he writes.
“It’s about working together and moving forward.”
Having won the award for West Coast rap album, Kasp said it’s subtle cultural differences that make B.C. rappers distinct from those along Canada’s east coast.
“With my style I bring motivation, my indigenous culture and my real life stories.”
This year was the debut of the Canadian Urban Television Hip Hop Awards, and Kasp feels refreshed to see more recognition of meaningful music.
“There’s really not much of a message in the majority of mainstream music,” he said. “But you don’t have to look far to find knowledgable rappers who are actually saying something.”
Kasp has two more musical projects on the horizon. He’s planning release a compilation of his best work, and will be following up Living Tha Good Life in the near future with an new album about achievement and celebration.
“I want my next album to be about being successful in life and taking advantage of opportunities; living each day like it’s your last and being grateful,” he said. “I want it to be about thankfulness and being upbeat.”
Also in the near future for Kasp is a motivational speaking tour along with rapper Maestro Fresh Wes, and they’ll be visiting schools and juvenile detention centres in aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities.
Kasp attributed much of his success to his manager Elaine Alec, whose work as a community comprehensive planner has connected Kasp with Aboriginal communities across the country.
Mentions of his album on social media can be found through the hashtag #livingthagoodlife, and he can be followed on Facebook through his page KASP Motivation Initiative.
“It’s been an amazing year so far and it’s not over yet.”