Winnipeg's Native Hip-Hop scene is unique because of the fellowship that exists among the artists who dominate it. While collaboration is a huge part of hip-hop culture, what happens in Winnipeg is more like a family reunion than artists simply lending each other verses.
I first got involved with the scene doing shows with friends at venues like the UNF on Main street. Basically all ages dances held in community centres. From those humble beginnings I've been lucky enough to move up through the ranks and do a lot of shows at big venues, tour throughout the continent and even took home the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Award for Best Rap CD in 2009.
In my time visiting other cities I've seen the healthy collaboration that defines our culture in full swing, but I also usually see some of the major artists or crews in those places beefing with each other. That doesn't exist here. The two most popular crews right now are Heatbag (Winnipeg's Most) and CTL (Young Kidd), and they're on good terms. In fact, if you go to a rap show in Winnipeg, chances are you'll see all those guys crowded around the bar together.
Meanwhile another group, Da Skelpa Squad, is setting up shows in southern Reserves and Northern fly-in communities using an array of artists including the ones I've mentioned as well as Drezus, Illaztic, Vibez and Lorenzo. Sharing the shine and some dimes with their brethren seems natural.
To be fair there have been some conflicts between lesser known artists and some of the bigger names, but most of those seem to stem from neighbourhood beefs rather than stuff that actually happened in the rap scene.
So the big question is why?
I think it's because being raised in a working class city like Winnipeg and in the Native community makes you humble (at least by rap standards)... And when you're ego's not getting in the way, you can focus on the things you share in common with your peers.