From Red Winter to Indian Summer, Drezus ignites with Warpath

Drezus painted the white hand across his mouth in the Warpath music video as an act of defiance.

By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
Drezus said he painted the white hand across his face in the Warpath music video as an act of defiance.

Drezus, also known as Jeremiah Manitopyes, a Plains Cree- Saulteaux veteran hip hop artist, said the war paint symbolizes colonizing European power structures that can no longer silence his people.

“They did a pretty good job of it,” said Drezus. “Those institutions are trying to silence me, but they can’t and I’m speaking through it.”

Drezus released the song Warpath and accompanying video on July 16. The song is from his latest album, due out on Aug. 5, called Indian Summer. The title of the album is tied to his song Red Winter which he released during the height of the Idle No More movement in January 2013. It became one of the unofficial theme songs for the movement which captured the nation’s attention through its flashmob round dances and Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence’s protest fast on Victoria Island in Ottawa. The video for Red Winter has over 100,000 views on YouTube.

“A lot of people say it might have fizzled out or whatever but it still goes strong in a lot of us,” said Drezus, 31.

And in his latest release, Warpath, Drezus has taken it to the next level, both politically and aesthetically.

The words in the song come loaded with metaphor.

“I was almost channeling a spirit in that song. I was channeling my grandfathers and my ancestors,” said Drezus.

He traces his genealogy to the renowned Plains Cree Chief Piapot, who made peace with the Blackfoot and led his people through days of hunger and darkness at the dying end of the 1800s.

Drezus’ words are laced through a beat composed by 2oolman, a well-known hip hop producer who recently joined A Tribe Called Red as its newest third member, replacing DJ Shub.

“When I heard this 2oolman beat, it was crazy, it was booming, with the bass, the strings, the stabbing synth,” said Drezus. “It’s also really sparse so there is room for a lot of content and I started reciting my verse to the new beat and, I was like, ‘this is the one.’”


Drezus said Warpath is primarily aimed at First Nation men.

“I wanted to represent the Native man and a lot of the ones that fell through the cracks. It’s kind of like a roll call for Native men of who we are and what our roles are as men,” said Drezus. “It is to ignite a spirit in all of us.”

He said the song also throws down a challenge to the “Native hip hop world” still fragmented by “petty-ass beefs” leading nowhere.

“Never mind this, ‘You looked at me funny I hate you. Oh you made a song with that guy, I hate you.’ There is a lot of that within the Native hip hop community. There are a lot of petty beefs and I have been involved in a lot of that too. I just choose not to get into that, we need to look past that. We need to band together and fight a bigger fight.”

Drezus said he can feel something earth-shattering looming on the horizon.

“I just know we are in hard times and we are going to face even tougher times,” he said. “I feel really wary about our future as a whole on earth, with the weather. But in particular, what is going to happen when the government decides to really turn on us. It seems like they have been setting us up for something big. We are overlooked, our people are overlooked and we are the people of this land and we’re treated as if we’re nothing. I feel like we are being set up for something bigger, as far as the Harper government goes.”

And the times call for a change in the rhymes, he said.

“There are a lot of Native hip hop artists out there that not saying a whole lot. They’re talking about their past, the street life, that’s cool. But I think as a culture and even musically we have to move past that message. We beat that horse dead a million times,” he said. “How many times can you say you hustled or lived on the streets? I feel people don’t want to hear that from a Native man. They want to hear the struggle, the pain, the inspiration, the motivation, the growth, the fire.”

Then, there is the video. Melding urban-reserve identities, the video, shot across several locations between Edmonton and Calgary, takes the song to a “supernatural” level, says filmmaker Stuey Kubrick, who shot, directed and edited the video.

“(Drezus) is basically calling to arms. It seems like a war cry to young men and young people,” said Kubrick, who is also known as Stuart Reaugh. “It is the first time he’s using his voice to call people up. It is almost a war metaphor.”

Kubrick said he handled Drezus’ lyrical cocktail with care in crafting Warpath’s video.

“I went neutral. Nobody is doing anything aggressive in the video, because it’s an aggressive song,” said Kubrick, who lives in Vancouver and has been filming hip hop videos for about six years. “It’s basically neutral images, with a bit of action. It’s basically a collage of what I saw. I didn’t want to go over the top aggressive.”

The video surprises in the end with an appearance by renowned West Coast carver Beau Dick and one of his masks. The sequence was shot at the Fazakas Art Gallery in Vancouver.

“It makes the song more supernatural and mysterious in the end,” said Kubrick. “It sends that cool, artistic chill up my spine.”

The video was also film on a six-day road trip between Edmonton and Calgary. Parts of it were filmed in Edmonton, Maskwacis (formerly known as Hobbema), the nearby Solomon-Bull ranch and in Tsuu T’Ina Drezus said he rode a horse for the first time in the video.

“And it was bareback,” he said.

Drezus worked previously with Kubrick, who is known for delivering high-quality music videos, and wanted his talent for the song.

“Stuey is not a Native cat himself… I love his visuals, he’s got a crazy mind. He’s a little bit on the dark side. I felt we could capture a little bit of the darkness that I have, that our people have and a lot of Native men have that are going through the struggle,” he said. “But also bringing darkness to the light.”

Drezus said he’s hoping to go on tour to promote his new album in September. Plans are in the works to include Lightning Cloud and Inez Jasper on the tour.

“It is time, it is heating up, it is heating up for our people,” said Drezus. “I really just wanted to ignite a spark, a fire, whatever you want to call it.”

[email protected]




First you should know that I have risen through the fire

in colorful buckskin, the object of my desire

is the colour of my skin so divided are my kin

watch me turn the tables ‘til we eating like some kings

in beautiful headdresses the culture is so impressive

I’m just hoping I absorb it when he’s passing me the message

because baby it’s depressing, living in this mess we call a home

we should take it back to chokers resting on the collar bone;

arrowheads ride along, the enemy’s like Styrofoam

piercing through the strongest armor death in genocidal form

and still I stand, a singular red man

with Jupiter size heart forever reppin’ my clan

the eagles an old man watching over my plans

I’m talking real shit baby, no faking here for the fans

I’m shouting out Bobby Jones, my aunties, my Moshom George

I’m drawing all of my strength from my people here before me man.

Hook whoh!!! Big chief in the building everybody take your place whoh!!

Remove your feelings if you wanna ride with me whoh!!

We about to go to war right now, no petty-ass beef whoh!!

When it all goes down whose gonna ride with me? Whoh!!

When it all goes down whose gonna ride with me? Whoh!!

When it all goes down whose gonna ride with me? Whoh!!

When it all goes down whose gonna ride with me? Whoh!!

When it all goes down whose gonna ride with me?

Blessed is the man with sons who walk beside him

not enough leaders out there we should be riding

they left our people broken but homie don’t play the possum

learn to grow yourself a set because you can bet there’s nothing promised;

they saying I’m a problem, they call me public enemy

but they don’t understand that, I hold it down for my family

and I hate it when they say that, I won’t be shit cause I’m Native

because in my mind we’re the strongest

we were built tough for the ages ( ay ay!!).

Give me back mine before I take that,

you don’t want that where my braves at?

Put’em up high with a braid of the sweetgrass,

put a prayer up, if you ain’t gonna ride then get back with your weak ass!

No room for the weak or the type of speech that brings us down,

We need them soldiers to be strong when the badman comes to town (ride out!)


Contribute Button