Two days ago I attended an uber-cultural event; the First Peoples’ Festival. To kick off the Festival, the organizers chose Samian, a Métis artist (half Quebecker, half Algonquin) who raps in Algonquin. For an hour and half, Samian has celebrated his culture with a jovial public opened to diversity.
One of the most symbolic moments was seeing two traditional dancers join him on stage. They wore traditional clothings of bright colors, while Samian dressed in neutral tones, wore western outfits – T-shirt and Bermuda. This image was rich in contrasts; marriage of conservatism and innovation, combination of traditions and modernity, mixture of Métis and Native Americans.
Samian likes to tell anyone who’ll listen that he is the Voice of his people, the Algonquins but we recognize in his traits, in his self expressions and in his independence the indelible mark of his Quebecker side. Having experienced racism from the two sides, he is smart enough to surround himself with individuals of a diverse backgrounds, which helps feed on his duality.
In fact, another highlight during the show was to see Samian perform with Meriem, another mixed-race artist from Quebec (born to a Senegalese father and a Quebecker mother). What can a Native American métis have in common with an African mixed-race? What can they talk about? We found the answer when the two performed “Regarde ailleurs”, a song that can be found on Samian’s second album Face à la musique. Another association rich in culture is “Le coeur d’un poète”, a duet with Peruvian singer Sola, who also performed on stage.
He also sang “Les mots” with Anodajay, another Quebecker rapper. If diversity was reflected by this broad range of guests, I was a bit disappointed by the absence of Shauit Innureggaeman, another métis who rightfully brags about being the only Inuit reggaeman in the world. Shauit’s absence became unbearable espcially when Samian performed alone “Les nomades” and “So Much”, their two duets.
It seems that to make up for this lack of reggae, an artist called Soke with a Bob Marley came to perform the song « Délivrez les jeunes ». Later, Loco Locas also performed « La paix des braves », a song praising the reconciliation between Whites and Native Americans.
When Samian said goodbye, the crowd was so persistent that he came back for not one but four last songs. He closed with “Plume d’aigle” a song that he almost never sings on stage. Yesterday, he made an exception because he felt a great connection with the public.
So why do I like Samian when I’m not Native Americans and I hate almost all rappers? I don’t feel that close to him only because in his selflessness he raps about the rights of Blacks in the same capacity that he writes about Native Americans and other oppressed peoples. No, it’s deeper than that.
Seeing him makes me realize that irrespective of our background, we are all humans and we can put ourselves in the shoes of others. Even though I am fascinated by differences, I realized that various peoples can have a very similar culture even if its inhabitants live millions miles away. Samian’s texts reveal he is sensitive like Disiz la Peste and has a civilized rage like Soprano. Just like Kery James, he drops candid truths with clean lyrics. Far from the bling bling and selfcenteredness, he teaches us how to let our heart pound out of our chest, « the shout of indigenous ».
In case you had never heard of Samian before, I suggest the following videos to educate yourself: