Aboriginal hip-hop artist Cody Coyote visits Yukon for music video shoot

Cody Coyote says his music career is taking him across the country and letting him talk with young people about their lives and what they see happening in their communities.

Artist says hip-hop appealing to First Nations youth because of similarities to storytelling

Ottawa-based hip-hop artist Cody Coyote is in the Yukon where he shot scenes for an upcoming music video. (Dave Croft/CBC)

Aboriginal hip-hop artist Cody Coyote chose the Yukon as the setting for a new music video featuring a yet to be released single titled Northern Lights.

Coyote promotes healthy lifestyles and healthy attitudes when he speaks with young people. The song is related to that message, he said.

"Showing in particular First Nations youth that we can chase our dreams, we can be successful, we can accomplish so many things, and with the title being Northern Lights, it's telling them, 'hey, you guys can shine like the Northern Lights.'"

"You know, dance like our ancestors did, display your culture, be who you want to be, and don't let other people tell you you can't be that," Coyote said.

"People will have haters; I have so many of them. But if you pay attention to them it's just going to bring you down."

He said he's not surprised that hip-hop has become popular with aboriginal artists and fans. They want to talk about what they see happening in their communities and the fundamentals of hip-hop are similar to many First Nation traditions, he said.

"Back in the day, First Nations people, the storytellers were the ones who passed down the teachings to the next generations, and if you look into the aspects of hip-hop you got the b-boys right. In First Nations culture we got our Fancy Dancers, we have our Grass Dancers and we have the dance styles that also tell a story," said Coyote.

Cody Coyote says the fundamentals of Hip Hop are similar to First Nation traditional culture. (Nick Ghattas/Retro Season Photography)
He grew up in Ottawa where he said he went through a rough period. Coyote said he uses those experiences to hopefully inspire young people who are having similar troubles. He talks about the devastation caused by drugs, alcoholism and high suicide rates. But he also talks about stereotypes that are put on First Nations people.

He went to the Kluane region north of Whitehorse earlier this week to shoot scenes for the video. He expects it will be released in about two months. He is not performing on this trip north, but said his music career is taking him across the country.

"Seeing the western and northern culture is just opening my eyes, you know, like learning all about new tribes, and how they grew up and how their ancestors were, it's just, I'm always trying to register new knowledge up in this mind of mine, just constant learning."

with files from Airplay