Thomas X empowers with new rap on native issues

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Red Lake rapper Thomas X is out with a new single and a powerful new video combining his unique hip-hop sound with the traditions of Northern Minnesota’s Annishinabe people.

Here’s Rezolution, the latest single from Thomas X:

Thomas X was a guest on last year’s Bemidji edition of my Great Northern Radio Show after his previous album “Have a Good Day.”

I’m not an Indian, nor am I a hip-hop aficionado. Truth is I’m an almost middle-aged white old-timey Iron Range Americana fan with a public radio show and a blog. But I just love what Thomas X does with his music. It’s not about distracting his fans from their problems. It’s about empowering people to overcome them, often with good spirits. Even so, it’s not Pollyanna stuff. He gets real with his lyrics without leaving a negative vibe. That’s an impressive feat, and why Thomas X deserves some attention here.

From a strictly filmmaking standpoint I love the sweeping imagery here — the lone dancers out in the field, sprawling lake ice behind them. It instantly creates a sense of place. The Ojibwe language voiceover sounds to my ear like author and Bemidji State University Ojibwe language professor Anton Treuer, a familiar figure in the Northern Minnesota literary scene. He also appears in the video along with a number of other well-known and not-so-well known Ojibwa community members.

Thomas X doesn’t shy away from potentially controversial political viewpoints, especially on mining, pipelines and environmental issues. But when you consider the cultural perspective behind those views, it can hardly seem more controversial than a “Mining Supports Us/We Support Mining” sign. In fact, I rather prefer seeing people, not just slogans.

Thomas X is one of the people behind Rez Rap Records, the label that carries the new “Rezolution” single and supports other native performers.

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