Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Chase Manhattan: A Musical Hip Hop Conversation

Chase Manhattan

In this musical conversation, hip hop artist Chase Manhattan speaks with guest interviewer Liz Przybylski. He shares how he puts together his music, and also talks about how family and place influence him. We listen to his track "For My Natives" together, and Chase offers thoughts about how hip hop can speak to social issues of importance in Native communities. And of course, there is a little beat boxing to round out the show.

Chase Manhattan is a Hip Hop/ Rap performing artist, and CEO of Shanob Ent. based out of the Twin Cities Minnesota. His music is influenced by his big brother and his Native American roots( Pine Ridge Oglala, Leech Lake Anishinaabe, and Muscogee Creek).

Chase's work has been nominated for a number of awards, 2009's "The Backside" was nominated for Best Hip Hop/Rap Album at the Northern American Indigenous Image Awards (NAIIA) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was also nominated for the 2009 Native American Music Awards (NAMA) in the category of Best Hip Hop/ Rap Album. In 2010/2011 he worked with organizations such as First Nations Composers Initiatives (FNCI), to develop community and culture though music.

To Learn More (podcast with interview)


  1. As a huge fan of heavy metal music, I’m not the biggest fan of rap and hip-hop music. However, the musical works of Chase Manhattan are really catchy and the samples of his music presented during the interview promote a positive message to Native American listeners, as well as listeners belonging to other cultural groups.

    As a prospective teacher, I would absolutely use his song “For My Natives” in the classroom to teach about some aspects of Aboriginal culture, as well as combat the stereotyping and discrimination that exists in Manitoba towards Aboriginal peoples. History, discrimination, current issues, and tradition are among the many topics Chase Manhattan touches upon in this song. Levitin (2006) claims that musical instinct is something consistent across cultures; using Manhattan’s song would be something that would allow each and every student to be involved in the class and benefit from the messages within the song. He even talks about the fact that his music can help get rid of stereotypes as there are a lot of non-Native American people that enjoy his music. He also talks about his music being a catalyst that will help Native American listeners of his music to take pride in their culture, and have a greater positive self-identity. It is worth mentioning that he uses some traditional cultural instruments in the creation of his music as well, giving it a feeling of cultural authenticity, if you will.

    In closing, I think bringing select songs by Chase Manhattan into the classroom would benefit students by providing them with something interesting and different that also contains a significant amount of educational value.

  2. I have often wondered what Aboriginal people could create and do artistically as African Americans have done with hip hop. Hip hop and rap have been so influential in urban black communities and have created a platform from which to share stories and struggles. It was born out of necessity to be heard in a culture dominated by white European traditions. It has achieved great, and unfortunate results, which often beg the age old question about whether art creates or simply displays society.
    Aboriginal hip hop artists such as Chase Manhatten have used the music of urban America to tell their own stories with a new flare. I long for a time that Aboriginal artists find a way to create their own art form which gives a platform from which to criticize society, and dream of empowering themselves through art. That it not to say that hip hop can not be that means, however it would be wonderful for something to come directly from the pain and frustration of the marginalized aboriginal communities in Canada.
    Rap is described by Murray Forman in his article “Conscious hip hop, Change and the Obama Era” as an “overt politicized discourse that poses an analytical critique of social issues and concerns, especially those that impact the economically or racially disenfranchised citizenry...” This is exactly the type of artistry and consciousness the Aboriginal community can use to share their pain, struggles and hopes. Musicians like Manahatten and the group A Tribe Called Red are using a music and style known for its ability to question society in order to create a new vision for the future.

  3. In Response to, Chase Manhattan: A Musical Hip Hop Conversation

    Robert Ouellette presents a brief summary of an interview with hip hop artist Chase Manhattan, conducted by Liz Przybylski. Manhattan discusses the influences from his older brother, his community, and his cultural heritage. Manhattan raps about social issues, including personal experiences, such as in his song called Big Brother, which is about his brother’s untimely death due to overmedication. Manhattan discusses his brothers insistence on creating music for native communities. Manhattan is an important representation of nativeness in music. His work is accessible to Aboriginal youth and has the potential to positively influence and inspire them.

    Similar to Chase Manhattan, a Canadian Producer/dj crew called A Tribe Called Red, are representing Aboriginal cultural experiences through their music. “Since 2010 the group – made up of two-time Canadian DMC Champion DJ Shub, DJ NDN and DJ Bear Witness – has been mixing traditional pow wow vocals and drumming with cutting-edge electronic music” (atribecalledred/bio.com). Their music is truly revolutionary. Youth today identify deeply with their music. Every young person has some form of an MP3 player and a set of ear-buds hanging around their neck. In a world where we are continually plugged-in, this form of Aboriginal representation is key for young people. They listen to this contemporary music and, Aboriginal or not, identify with the form.

    While Chase Manhattan revels in hip hop music, A Tribe Called Red has come to encompass many aspects of Aboriginal culture through their powwow events in Ottawa which incorporate Native talents and Aboriginal culture in a celebrative, exciting atmosphere. “Within a couple of years they’ve become the face of an urban Native youth renaissance, championing their heritage and speaking out on aboriginal issues, while being on top of popular music, fashion and art” (atribecalledred/bio.com).

    A Tribe Called Red represents a form of cultural revolution and revitalization for a Aboriginal peoples today, most importantly, for Aboriginal youth in Canada. In my practicum a 15-year-old Aboriginal student asked me what type of music I listen to, after responding I asked him aswell. When he replied, hip hop and electronic music, I suggested he listen to A Tribe Called Red. I was astonished to hear he had never heard of them. This group must be supported and accredited in popular media so that young Aboriginal peoples can further identify with their cultural heritage and popular culture through this talented group.