Many Indigenous stories have been passed down generations as songs. For Indigenous hip-hop group Violent Ground, music is still a way to share stories about their lives and experiences growing up in the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach.
Now, after working together for nearly 15 years, brothers Allan and Christian Nabinacaboo have been recognized with three awards for their most recent album, Difference, released June 18 of this year.
The brothers almost didn’t attend the Teweikan Aboriginal Music Gala, held October 2 in Trois- Rivières, where they were shocked to find themselves the winners of three awards – including Album of the Year.
“We were surprised,” explained Christian. “I was at a loss for words, being on stage. It was very surprising!”
By the end of the evening, they would win awards for Expression in Modern Art, Best Emerging Artist, and finally, Best Album of the Year.
“When we started out almost 15 years ago, we didn’t expect to get anywhere. To get these awards, to finally be recognized after all these years, puts things into perspective of how hard you work,” Christian told the Nation.
“We’re very proud of ourselves. We were amazed with all that we were able to do in just a short year,” continued Allan.
The night also came as a big victory for manager Steve Einish, based in Wemindji.
After his mother passed away when he was 15, he ended up in group homes, foster care, juvenile detention and eventually prison.
“I was in my mom’s reserve for six years. I didn’t want to just be a drug dealer or bootlegger like others, going in and out of jail. I decided I wanted something more – that was a turning point for me,” Einish said.
After moving to Montreal, he met up Christian, who was studying at Recording Arts Canada, where he also decided to enrol.
“It opened my mind. Not just about being a rapper or recording artist, but seeing all the different venues blew my mind. I realized we can really take this thing somewhere if we put our heads together and get our music out there,” Einish continued.
Their collaboration grew from there – from Einish working as a sound technician, to eventually becoming manager to the duo.
“I feel like I won those awards, even though any accomplishment is a team effort,” Einish explained. “I’m really proud for them to get those awards.”
The brothers have no plans to slow down. Reached in the recording studio, they were working on some new music and planning to put out a music video.
They also have shows coming up across Quebec and Ontario from now until December, including shows in Wemindji and Whapmagoostui.
For any young people interested in entering the business, Einish has a few thoughts: “Don’t listen to people who doubt you. Just know that you gotta stay focused on your dreams and ignore any negative talk – it’s just going to blind and frustrate you. Stay positive, believe in yourself, and never give up on your hopes and dreams.”
Allan concurs: “Search for what you want in life and keep going. If you don’t move it won’t happen. Time moves forward – you have to, too, to make things happen.” Violent Ground can be found on all social media, and their music on major streaming platforms.