|(Winnipeg Boyz courtesy of the WinnipegBoyz website)|
By: Christine Smith (McFarlane)
Life sometimes hands you challenges, and growing up in Winnipeg, Manitoba’s
roughest neighborhood, the North End, gave the two members of the Winnipeg Boyz –General William Jon-C Pierson, and Charlie Fettah, experiences that they say “helps drive the music we create together.”
The Winnipeg Boyz, are a two member hip hop group, though they prefer to call themselves and what they do “a project.” They have been together for a year and a half, and used to be a part of the hip hop band Winnipeg’s Most. Jon-C started up Winnipeg’s Heatbag Records after a personal tragedy, and Charlie Fettah joined him after they both parted from the hip hop band Winnipeg’s Most.
The Winnipeg Boyz released their debut album *AbInitio* on November 5th 2013. The album features productions by Juno Nominated producers Stomp, Boogey The Beat, & 2oolman. The full length album is filled with 15 tracks and features guests; Krizz Kaliko, Bubblz, Blu , Lorenzo, Nathan Cunningham, Drezus, Rup Monsta, plus More......
I caught up with them and asked them a few questions. Here is what they had to say.
Q- Please tell me a bit about your band-struggles, challenges, what you would like to share with your fan base.
A-We basically grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba’s roughest neighborhood, the North End. Jon-C is an Aboriginal of Sagkeeng First Nation and Charlie Fettah is from Winnipeg.
We grew up into the inner city struggles that plagued Winnipeg. The gangs, drugs, and fast money forced us to grow up fast.
With no community support or programs available to us, we ran around in the streets learning how to survive in the cold environment we were born into.
Q- How did Winnipeg Boyz get started? How many are in your group?
A-The Winnipeg Boyz consists of me- (Fettah) and the General Jon-C. We have been group for about a year and a half, but we have been making music together for too many years to count. Ha ha. It’s more of a project than a group, him and I were members of Winnipeg’s Most, and so it was an easy transition for the both of us. We have always made music together and collaborated so it was really natural.
Q- How did you get into the hip hop/ rap scene?
A-Jon-C- tragedies, heartaches and lost feelings. Hip Hop helped me deal with it. As far as the rap scene, we kept saying YES to any and all offers/chances to rap in front of a live audience. We have been grinding the rap scene for a min already. Heatbag records started making a name in 2005 and we continue to keep making heads snap with new projects and videos to this day.
Q-Why hip hop, who are your influences?
A-Why hip hop? I don’t think we had a choice. We were living hip hop before I ever thought of making hip hop. I don’t think we get to pick the WHYS…. Influences come from all the hard working emcees we grew up listening to, all the classics and all the lyricists-Tupac, Biggie, Big L, Easy E, outkast, nas, Kanye West, Wu-tang, ludacris, jay-z, and the new aged rappers Young Jeezy, Akon, Ace hood, Kendrick lamar, yg, Madchild, Oun P, Cassidy, plus all Canadian local and mainstream music.
Q- Where do you draw your creativity from? Does it come easily for you as a group?
A-Just the love of music and inspirations that life brings us. We have been working together since the start of our careers so that makes working together a lot easier.
Q- What is some good news you would like to share with your fans?
A- Keep on the lookout for a full Charlie Fettah album coming soon, and a full length JON-C album coming soon with brand new videos from the Heatbag family, a few more Winnipeg Boyz videos, some new songs. We’re always working. We don’t stop!
Q- What challenges have you faced in your career, your personal life if any?
A-Jon-C-It’s been a challenge my entire career being an independent artist and always will be. Personally I’ve done a lot of things I wish I hadn’t but you live and you learn. I’ve faced a lot of profiling and police harassment because of my past. I understand it but don’t see why after all these years they would still assume I’m up to no good.
My music career consists of being independent, so we do everything ourselves. That means merchandise, cd’s, recording, cd artwork, online accounts and promotions, which makes up for a 24/7 challenge. But I’m down for it. Life is good. I have been busy building Canadian Urban Television CUTtv with my business partner. We are building a brand new Canadian outlet for the urban society we all live in today.
Q- Would you consider yourself role models for youth? If so, how and what was it that made you want to be a role model to others?
A-We get asked this question a lot…ha ha. It’s a tough question to answer because we feel like nobody should live the life we used to live or the life we speak about in some of our music. We speak about things that aren’t always positive or happy but its true and we don’t believe in sugarcoating anything. We understand that many youth look up to us and we make an effort to try and provide them with information and share our experiences in hopes that they don’t repeat our mistakes or theirs. But really at the end of the day, every human being is responsible for their own actions and all we can do as artists is stay true to who we are and hope that fans take something away from the music. Positive or negative people have to learn from every victory and every mistake, that’s just life.
Q- What message can you give youth to encourage them, especially if they aspire to be in the field you are in.
A-Fettah-The only thing I can say to aspiring artists is to never give up. I know that sounds cliché but it’s so true. Whether you’re signed or not, you have to push your product because no one will do it for you. We did it all ourselves, well Jon-C did most of the footwork as far as videos and graphics to mixing and mastering. He held Heatbag down for many years so he is probably more suited to answer this question.
Jon-C- BE YOU, is the first thing. To be in the music business, you got to learn to have tough skin, because it’s a real life struggle to put projects together. Dedication is needed. It can go quickly from a hobby to a job. Graphic designing , cd artwork, mixing and mastering., but all of our youth have an opportunity to become exactly what they aspire to be. It all begins with learning and practicing.. So if you’re a youth, and want to start learning the music industry now, DO IT. No matter the genre. Perfect your art and always believe in yourself.
For more information on the Winnipeg Boyz and to listen to their music, please visit www.winnipegboyz.net
Published in New Tribe Magazine's June 2014 issue