The following was originally published at Ongoing History of Protest Music.
David Strickland is a successful Grammy-winning producer and engineer, who over a two-decade career worked with several hip-hop luminaries including Redman, EPMD, Drake, and a wide range of notable Canadian rappers.
In 2020 Strickland stepped out of the background and released the excellent album, “Spirit of Hip-Hop.” On the album, he tapped into his Mi’kmaq heritage, a lineage that can be traced back five generations. He explored indigenous themes while also addressing universal concerns, such as police brutality.
Strickland followed up that album with a companion piece, Spirit of Hip Hop (Remixes). He recently released his latest single “Messenger,” a collaboration with Erick Sermon, Outlaw By Nature (featuring Treach from Naughty By Nature and the late Hussein Fatal of The Outlawz), and veteran Canadian rapper Saukrates.
The tune is about Strickland’s dedication to delivering messages through his art while also celebrating indigenous heritage.
“Messenger is a deep song on many levels. It’s about me using music as a way of sending messages throughout my career without speaking but speaking through the music. It’s also a message to all those negative ones against me, you, something everyone can relate to,” Strickland stated.
“Mostly it’s a homage to Hussein Fatal, who passed too soon in a car accident and gives his message to live on through positivity because life is too short and the world’s a beautiful place and it’s all how you look at it and your perspective.”
“Ultimately you control your outlook. We are all messengers.” Strickland concluded.
In these difficult times, music can play an integral role in delivering a message of positivity and healing. Strickland knows as well as any artist how to speak through the craft of hip-hop.