Grandmothers bring their Indigenous vibe to Cree music video 'Kokum Rap'

Vincent Schilling

Kokums say: ‘We never scream shut the music off, cause we hear your message and like your beats’

Look out Native rap artists, the Cree kokums are making waves on YouTube with a new rap video — parts of which are in the Cree language — called Kokum Rap.

The YouTube video description says it all:

“Maria Campbell, Rita Bouvier, Maxine Roy and Louise Halfe were convinced to write a rap song with Zoey Roy to share their message to young people to keep sharing their truths. In this song, you will hear stories from their own lives and messages they've picked up along the way.”

Ntawnis Piapot of CBC News wrote about the Kokum rap team who got together as a way to share their indigenous language and lyrical words of support to today’s Indigenous young people.

The video was directed by poet and spoken word artist Zoey Roy, Métis, Cree and Dene Ballantyne First Nation, and was part of the Indigenous Artist in Residence program at the University of Saskatchewan.

Kokum and Zoey Roy
The video was directed by poet and spoken word artist Zoey Roy, posing here with the Kokum rappers.

Roy told the CBC, "To have been given the opportunity to sit around the kitchen table with these women and tell the stories that are important to them and say it in a way that's filled with rhythm and rhyme."

Roy also said the video was a test of sorts dealing with respected elders including her mother Maxine Roy. "Working with these women - it was a test of courage, of truth, of faith, of humility … it was scary because they are all the boss.”

Some of the lyrics were posted in the article by Ntawnis Piapot.

Kokum lyrics

môy niyanân nisêkisinân (we are not scared)
môy niyanân nikostênân (we are not afraid)

We can swing our hips and roll our joints
We can grease our knees and flip our hair
We can pucker our lips and make you kîskwêw (crazy)
Kokums aren't afraid of being the big iskwêw (woman)

The Kokums also expressed their views on the video. Campbell said the video was about being strong in life, and encouraging the youth to learn a bit of their language every day. Maxine stated that though they were older, they could still grasp that “rap music is a form of communication.”

Kokum Rap

One line rings true with the sentiment expressed by Maxine.

“We never scream, shut the music off, cause we hear your message and like your beats, and now you dance to the beat of the drum.”

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Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter - @VinceSchilling and Instagram - @VinceSchilling

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Comments (12)
No. 1-12
Ms Peggy Lee
Ms Peggy Lee

So AWESOME! Yakoke👏😀


uwodu beautiful in cherokee the video is outstanding I l just love it.


Love it-I want to sing along😁


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