by Osani Balkran
When Stun, an Indigenous hip-hop artist, posed the statement and question to me, “Don’t let anyone tell you how old you are, it’s never too late to chase your dreams … if you feel like you have the passion, go and chase it, if you want to be happy, well it’s there, and you have to go grab it right?” I was curious to learn more about this interesting comment.
As we sat and talked, I learned at the age of 16 Winston Chubb, stage name Stun, dove into the rap game headfirst when he first heard rap musicians. He surrounded himself with a circle of like-minded people where they would make beats, kick freestyles, and record. While he was making music with his colleagues Stun would also be honing his own craft. These two events would be the beginning for learning to work in an environment that supported who he wanted to be as a rap musician.
From 16 years old, with every year passing, Winston grew more and more. Whether it was performing mixing, production, lyrics, or business, he would learn these skills and used them to his advantage. At one point Stun had the beats but needed mixing and mastering to take his music to the next level. Rather than letting this discourage him he found ways to elevate his knowledge of mixing, whether it was from YouTube or asking questions from professional mix engineers.
Taking inspiration from 80s pop, down south rap, metal and 90s hip-hop, Stun’s production is very creative, relaxed and epic. Using Euro samples and becoming proficient with the tools, Stun has carved out his own lane in the Canadian Hip-Hop genre. When listening you can tell the lyrics are clever, truthful and inspirational. Stun is also humbly versed in his indigenous culture and because of this in-depth knowledge Stun uses lyrics with deep questions and comments to explain how he experiences the world around him as an Indigenous person living in Manitoba.
Stun is the true definition of a self-made artist, however Stun always remembers to pay homage in his lyrics, for example when he says ‘sleep is the cousin of death,’ he will let his audience know it is a referral to Nas, a rapper from Bronx New York in 1994. From 2007-2017 Stun tapped into all the elements of music and finally dropped his long awaited first album The Influence.
This album was designed around the life he was leading, one that was created through the environment of a young musician experiencing everything for the first time. From bar packed venues to rocking the stage with idols from childhood, Stun rode the wave and decided shortly after that this wasn’t a lifestyle that would help him get to where he wanted to be. After this he made the decision to take things more seriously and as he says, “it was time to smarten up.” He did this because he realized that he’s paving the way for future generations.
With each album you can hear how his music has changed and evolved as Stun has grown as an artist and human being. He went from a rapper who didn’t think about the reason or effect his music would have on others to a methodically planning and executing all his releases. His second release began with a professionally mixed project called ‘Braided Up’. The change, and drive, is especially evident in the music video ‘Play it Right’ with Stun playing chess in a calculated calm and collected way. His third record is set to be released in the very near future. His record will not only be one that is inspirational through sound but also through the steps he took to find and craft his style in this hip hop genre.
While creating music, Stun continues to balance his culture and family, as these are important elements that motivate him to create not only lyrically clever music but music that will create a space for Indigenous hip hop to inspire the next generations in a positive way. The thing to remember about Stun is he is not only talented, but he has his own inner knowledge and when those two meet it creates a phenomenon, one that might change the game for the best.