‘Rezurbia’, the sophomore album from Pabineau First Nation rapper Wolf Castle, is a coming-of-age celebration of culture and personal identity.
The latest album from Pabineau First Nation rapper Wolf Castle (Tristan Grant) is an extremely personal offering. Rezurbia provides a window into the artist’s past and present experiences growing up on the reservation, discovering what it means to be an individual and most importantly, what it means to be an indigenous man. For Grant, this is very much a coming-of-age album.
“Growing up on the reserve and going to school outside of it, I just wanted to fit in so I didn’t ever bring attention to the fact that I was First Nations because often when it did happen I was met with ignorance, people treating me differently and just general negativity,” said Grant, who released three full albums under his own name before adopting the Wolf Castle moniker in 2016.
“Once my music started picking up I started getting a lot of attention from First Nations groups and I started meeting a lot of people who shared the same upbringing as me,” he said. “It really helped me a lot in a darker time of my life.”
On Rezurbia, Grant tackles personal regrets, his struggle to embrace his indigenous identity and his experience growing up as “the native” in school. But through the many harsh realities Grant shares across the album’s 14 tracks, there is a distinct confidence and a subtle humour to his words that keep the album feeling balanced and optimistic.
“I realized I shouldn’t be ashamed of my own culture and decided to finally write an album that addressed my own journey towards embracing it, not only to talk about just negative stuff, but also to put forward the message that we need to celebrate our culture and show people we are still here no matter what the hell life has thrown at us over the last few centuries. We still shine and we still succeed.”
Rezurbia is a beat-driven album. The sparse melodies are carried along by steady and familiar snare/bass patterns which provide structure for Grant and several guest MCs to play and experiment with their own vocal deliveries. The album, written and produced by Grant, includes guest appearances by NotJerryHuras, Dontai Finesse, Talon – The Rez Kid Wonder, J Shaq, Shift from tha 902 and Pure Knowledge.
“Rezurbia to me is the best project I’ve put out,” said Grant. “The subject matter conveyed through the lyrics talks about my own experience, but also goes beyond that and into the larger issues faced by First Nations people today. A lot of people I’ve met and known over the years lived the same kind of life as me. Putting out this album was another step on my journey to connecting with my culture and moving it forward as well. This is my interpretation of what it means to be Native in 2018.”