Montreal hip-hop artist David Hodges first thought the N’we Jinan project would be a tour of Cree communities to promote musical talent with the youth. But the project has now given birth to a successful hip-hop album, N’we Jinan, Eeyou Istchee Volume 1, that is climbing the hip-hop charts on iTunes.

After taking the music project on whirlwind tour of Eeyou Istchee last spring and shooting several music videos, Hodges starting wondering, what’s next?

10168075_739840309399886_510439601_nHodges got his answer few weeks ago when Daryl Hester, from the Cree Native Arts Crafts Association (CNACA), approached him to produce an album for Cree singer Mariame Hasni. The next logical step was to found a actual record label in partnership with the CNACA and Joshua Iserhoff, the Youth Grand Chief of the CNYC.

“I had an epiphany that N’we Jinan could go beyond a tour every year. We could have an educational approach and offer music to the communities, we could work with individuals or groups to help develop their careers from the ground up that would include the music, marketing, bookings and videos. It’s quite the task but at the same time it’s something that I can do,” said Hodges.

According to Hodges, this venture gives the CNACA the means to invest in their artists with the backing of the CNYC. Working with Hasni, whose album is completed and now moves into the marketing phase, has given the emerging label a prototype as they are now involved in photo shoots, videos and bookings for their premier artist.

CNACA is backing the project financially with funding for projects and artists, Iserhoff brings his youth connections to the table, and Hodges adds his music-industry experience as well as his capacity for motivating youth, something he has done in high schools across Quebec for years.

“It’s important that this label has representation from the Aboriginal community and Josh’s part is really with the youth and with the music. He loves music and he is such an amazing singer. So for him to start this label is a dream come true; it’s something that he has always wanted to do,” said Hodges. “And together we get to do something that’s super positive for the community.”

At the same time, Hodges said not every artist who comes through CNACA would be working with N’we Jinan as they need to fit with the label’s hip-hop, youth-oriented sound though they are not limited exclusively to hip-hop. Hodges said there would be room for other genres. One of the next goals for the label is to see how to break their artists into Aboriginal markets outside of Eeyou Istchee.

The label will continue to work with the artists who are on the original album as they just launched the I Believe music video online on November 4, a project that was filmed in Chisasibi last June.

“It was a great experience working on the video and the first time I got to go out to the bay in Chisasibi. It was beautiful and we got some incredible shots of Sigoun Wapachee singing there. We just wanted to have this represented in the video because this is Cree land and it is their bay,” said Hodges.

According to Hodges, another N’we Jinan video launch is in the works and other projects are lined up for 2015 with Nemaska’s NorthStars hitting the studios to record their own project in February.

As for a repeat tour of last year’s musical recording project, for the time being that remains undecided. But those interested in purchasing N’we Jinan merchandise can go to: