2021 is shaping up to be an incredible year for Pabineau First Nation artist Tristan Grant with a pair of ECMA nominations, a new single and a new EP arriving via Forward Music Group.
Over the past four years, Wolf Castle has grown from a bedroom producer into one of the most prolific and important Indigenous hip hop artists working in Atlantic Canada today. Beginning in 2017 with the release of his debut album, The Artificial Original, through to his most recent EP, Gold Rush, Wolf Castle – aka Tristan Grant – has demonstrated his ability as not just a talented rapper and producer but also as a fearless musician who embraces change by continuously developing his voice as an artist. Whether he’s rapping about rez life, the influence of traditional and contemporary culture on his community or his own observations as a young Indigenous artist living in Canada, he seems to find comfort in challenging himself with each new project.
So far, 2021 is shaping up to be an exciting year for Grant. He started the year off by helping to establish the NB Indigenous Artists Development Grant, created in partnership with Music NB. The grant provides financial assistance, mentorship and guidance to aid in the development of new music projects. Then in February he received a pair of East Coast Music Award nominations for Gold Rush: Rap/Hip-Hop Recording of the Year and Indigenous Artist of the Year. And his streak continues this month with news of new music, conclusions and new beginnings.
2021 will welcome the release of the fourth and final chapter in his Da Vinci Chronicles series of EPs. Following the Next Life, Dark Side and Gold Rush, the forthcoming EP, Da Vinci’s Inquest will arrive later this year via the Halifax-based label Forward Music Group.
Planned as a fictional journey through the life of an artist, the four EPs in the Da Vinci Chronicles series explore themes of temptation, depression and self-realization, no doubt inspired in part by Grant’s own experience as a Indigenous musician.
“The idea came to me in late 2018 when I lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia,” said Grant in a statement. “I went there to study music business in college, but after that, I fell in love with a girl from my hometown, so I packed up and went home for her. When I arrived, I crashed at my mom’s house on the reserve for a year and the girl I fell in love with had to go long-distance with me since she was finishing school. My brother was suffering from drug addiction and mental health issues and returned home as well to reset himself and get clean, so the winter was rough – then the pandemic hit.”
Last week saw the release of Gunna, the first single from the upcoming EP. Raphael de la Rez, an alias for Grant’s uncle who introduced him to rap music in the early 2000s, is featured prominently on the track, merging fiction with reality through a subtle exchange of call and answer that bodes well for his upcoming Forward Music group debut.
Cover image by Christopher Grant.