Making music with a message: Red Lake hip-hop artist Thomas X mixes rap and culture
RED LAKE—Hip-hop legend Chuck D once said "rap is CNN for black people," and local hip-hop artist Thomas X says he wants to be the "CNN for Native people" with his music.
His real name is Thomas C. Barrett Jr. (his Ojibwe name is Animiikii Anakwaad, or Thunder Cloud), and he combines awareness, history, pride, the Ojibwe language and a positive message about the culture on the Red Lake reservation through his music. He has worked with Rez Rap Records, out of Red Lake, since 2010, looking to put his music out in front of the world.
The 26-year-old Red Lake musician has been making rhymes since his teenage years, and said it has helped him cope with certain elements of his past, which include being a survivor of the Red Lake High School shooting in 2005 and his past struggles with sobriety. The combination of music, family and culture has helped bring him to where he is today, he said.