My Dream Team: David Strickland

The Toronto-based Mi’kmaw and Northern Cree producer helped engineer Drake’s Thank Me Later. Now he’s trying to elevate a bevy of under-appreciated Indigenous hip hoppers to Drizzy-level fame. We asked Strickland to tell us about some of the hidden-gem emcees on Spirit of Hip Hop, his revolutionary record that featured old school beats and lightning-fast verses from more than 30 Indigenous acts.

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Violent Ground

Sibling rap duo from the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach
“I was in their area, a subarctic fly-in community in the middle of nowhere. In their minds, I had no business being there—some guy showing up and saying, ‘Hey, I work with Drake’? We wrote a song that night called Rez Life. That kind of got the ball rolling for the album.”


Ernie Paniccioli

Cree Native American hip hop photographer and activist
“I didn’t imagine putting him on the album, but I had him in the studio and told him, ‘Just start talking.’ I used what he delivered as the spoken word introduction to the album. It sets the tone. It inspired a tattoo on my arm.”


Que Rock

Anishinaabe rapper, b-boy and graffiti artist
“Que Rock is legit on the dance floor. When I started checking out his craft, I knew this guy was on the same wave as me. He’s on the most songs on the album. I have a secret joke with him: I call the album Que Rock and Friends.”


Leonard Sumner

Anishinaabe singer-songwriter
“He’s so laid back. When I met the guy in the studio, he had his guitar and he banged out two choruses like he was putting on a pair of socks. He can rap too, but he hides that. He is such a cool guy.”



Calgary-based rapper and activist
“He and I were in the VICE documentary First Out Here together. His spirit is so big, I thought, ‘Man, this guy needs to be heard.’ We had that natural chemistry, so he’s on three songs.”


Snotty Nose Rez Kids

Haisla Nation rap duo
“These guys were on fire already when I decided I had to have them on the album. I linked up with them and they were on the same page, so I set them up to record with DJ Kemo from the Rascalz in Vancouver.”