Crook the Kid a the Beer gardens stage at Folk on the Rocks 2021. Sarah Pruys/ Cabin Radio
When Fort Good Hope hip hop artist Dylan Jones started writing music, he told himself if an opportunity ever arose to do good, he would take it no matter what. For him, spending the last week touring NWT schools was in line with that pact.
Jones, known by his stage name Crook the Kid, partnered with the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre (NACC) to tour different communities and share his music with young students and a message importance of not giving up.
The tour started in Fort Smith last Monday, then took Jones to Hay River, Fort Simpson, Ndılǫ, and Norman Wells, before finishing in Inuvik on Monday.
Marie Coderre, the executive and artistic director at NACC, says it’s important to expose students to different artists from the North to show that opportunities do exist within and outside of their communities.
“It’s a way for the students to say, ‘Hey, I can do that,’” Corderre told Cabin Radio. “If it’s someone from the Northwest Territories, then it’s someone they can relate to and it’s not some totally foreign concept. It’s accessible.”
Jones says the trip has been a vulnerable experience for him, spending time with students who he was once in the same position as and sharing with them the opportunities that arise when you don’t give up.
“They were just like me as a kid. Growing up we faced the same issues and in the music I write about them and the life I lived in the same position,” said Jones.
“The students have really opened up with instant vulnerability and sharing, so we get into this situation where it’s me tearing down the walls and them sharing with me their struggles and then conversing on how important it is not to give up.”
Jones’ music is what he calls “a story of life and growing up in a community in the north,” sung in a hip hop style. Sharing these stories with students at a young age is important, he says, so they grow up knowing that others share the same experiences and they aren’t alone.
“Growing up in small communities can be hard, a lot of us put up these walls and emotional disconnection,” said Jones.
“I get to share with the students that as the years go by, the walls kind of shrink and there is a bigger, accepting world out there.”