This past August, 25-year-old Canadian rapper Cody Coyote performed at the celebration of The Great Trail’s connection in Ottawa. We had the opportunity to catch up with Coyote for an open and insightful interview about being a young First Nation artist in Canada, his future in the industry, and his involvement with The Great Trail.
Coyote is Irish on his mother’s side and comes from a long line of Ojibwe people from the Matachewan First Nation on his father’s side. His father was adopted in the 1960s during the “Sixties Scoop”, where many Indigenous children were placed in foster homes or put up for adoption. Coyote’s recent ancestry research efforts have been paying off and he has been spending time meeting family members in northern Ontario.
His biggest influences
Coyote cites the Indigenous rapper Litefoot as his biggest musical influence. The Cherokee-born rapper, who is proving that Indigenous people have a place in hip-hop, opened Coyote’s eyes to the power of incorporating life experience and storytelling into music.
The other big influence in Coyote’s life is his father, who has consistently encouraged him to write and be creative. Writing is a passion shared by Coyote, his father and his two brothers, and he believes that storytelling is natural for many Indigenous people.
For Coyote, music, and in particular hip-hop, started as a creative outlet, but then turned into a career that he hopes can help heal Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. He grew up facing racist attitudes towards himself and other Indigenous people. He says that he would like to help bridge the gap between people whose ancestors are Canadian settlers and those of Indigenous ancestry. “With hip hop we can create a positive change together” – Coyote sees a mix of nationalities in his audiences, and hopes to inspire them with a positive message.
Breaking into the music industry
After high school ended, Coyote was involved in gang life and wanted to navigate his way towards sobriety, he says. He started making music as a way to vent about the injustices he encountered in day-to-day life – his debut album Lose Control dealt heavily with his own activism for Indigenous rights and his journey as an Indigenous youth in Canada. After two nominations at the 2015 Indigenous Music Awards, his career looks to be rapidly picking up steam.
Mamawi, the title of Coyote’s upcoming sophomore album, means “all together” – this is a message he feels very strongly about. While touring the country he’s seen homelessness, families affected by rising suicide rates in Indigenous communities, and environmental issues first hand – his music, according to Coyote, provides “good medicine” to help young people in their own healing journeys.
Coyote says he’s done his share of listening, and now is his time to speak out about the problems he sees. By focusing on the message of togetherness in his music, he hopes to initiate positive change and inspire his listeners to rise above negativity.
Plans for the future
Coyote’s current plans involve completing Algonquin College’s Music Industry Arts program, which he hopes will help turn him into a well-rounded artist well versed in the business side of the industry. He hopes to record more music that will lead to bigger and better opportunities.
Working with Trans Canada Trail
He was first introduced to The Great Trail by Elaina Martin, the founder of Ottawa’s Westfest. He says that working with the Trail has been a remarkable experience, and that the idea of The Great Trail can help bring people together. Coyote wishes to someday travel the Trail and take in the sights and sounds of Canada.
MaMawi – New album dropping fall 2017
While it doesn’t yet have a confirmed final release date, Coyote says that his sophomore album Mamawi will be released in the fall of 2017. Mamawi will debut on Spotify, iTunes, and all other major streaming services, and an album release party which is open to the public is taking place at Bar Robo in Ottawa on November 1. Those looking to purchase a physical copy can support Coyote directly through his website, or can purchase a hard copy through Amazon. You can also listen to Cody Coyote right now on YouTube.