Discreet Da Chosen 1 [Prolific Profile]
Vancouver, B.C. – Discreet Da Chosen 1 – aka Leeland Askew – is a recording artist and producer representing the Squamish Nation in Vancouver. He’s routinely involved in anti-war movements and First Nations communities, and has even gone so far as to run for council. His music is steeped in the tradition of storytelling and he works hard to share what he’s learned with the youth of a younger generation. His motivation to bring up his people causes him to stand out, and he certainly caught the attention of HipHopCanada, as he’s our latest Prolific Profile.
HipHopCanada: How do you define hip-hop, and where do you feel you fit into that definition?
Discreet Da Chosen 1: Hip-hop means moving the youth intellectually: hip meaning young, youthful, adolescence, the next generation. Hop meaning to move, physically, mentally, dynamically. I believe it’s part of the culture to teach – whether its directly or indirectly – just like I was taught as a youth, where everything starts. I feel I’m a natural leader and storyteller with the responsibility to pass on the teachings and art form, to share the roots of hip-hop culture.
HipHopCanada: What drives you to stay in a business that is rarely profitable and highly competitive?
Discreet Da Chosen 1: The people have always driven me; everywhere I go somebody is talking to me or inspiring me to continue making dope music. I define me, no one else.
HipHopCanada: Where on the West Coast are you based?
Discreet Da Chosen 1: Capilano/North Vancouver, in traditional Squamish Nation Territory.
HipHopCanada: How has living there influenced your sound?
Discreet Da Chosen 1: I was raised by the community and taught by elders, singers and storytellers, so I’ve been learning my peoples’ traditional songs and drumming since preschool.
HipHopCanada: Who is your primary fan base?
Discreet Da Chosen 1: First Nations youth mostly, but I think there are a lot of potential fans, welcome to embrace anyone, who don’t like to rule anybody out.
HipHopCanada: What tips would you give young artists coming up, or what do you wish someone would have told you when you first started out in the hip-hop industry?
Discreet Da Chosen 1: It’s not for the faint of heart!
HipHopCanada: In which ways do you interact with your community?
Discreet Da Chosen 1: As a community activist and a role model for youth – I’ve been sober for 2 years now – and I’m heavily involved in local politics. I ran for Squamish Nation council, I put on a lot of fundraisers and support many good causes.
HipHopCanada: Which artists have you worked with that left an impression on you, and why?
Discreet Da Chosen 1: Obsesion, who are Cuban revolutionaries, are very talented and deliver an empowering message. And Chamillionaire because he’s sober and uses no profanity in his tunes. In Essence, who won a JUNO award, took the time out to talk with me and give me pointers and advice in the industry. Ostwelve is very intelligent and teaches me interesting and relevant things. Emotionz is one of the most talented artists I’ve ever seen… and Dani and Lizzy are straight inspirational.
HipHopCanada: Which Canadian artist would you most like to collaborate with?
Discreet Da Chosen 1: K’naan.
HipHopCanada: Tell us about past and present successes, as well as future projects?
Discreet Da Chosen 1: I’ve released 3 albums and opened up for some big artists including Bone Thugs, The Game, Chamillionaire, and I’m soon to be touring with Joey Stylez. I’m currently working on my fourth album titled Magneto, to be released next year. I was also nominated for a 2010 Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Award for “Storytellin With Discreet and Friends.”
HipHopCanada: Any last words for the HipHopCanada online community?
Discreet Da Chosen 1: Yeah, shouts out for y’all to supporting the movement, we all in the same boat and there’s strengthin numbers so lets keep building together and strengthen the culture as opposed to weakening it by selfish egos. This whole thing is bigger than you or I, it’s International. Represent with honour and integrity. Many blessings!