Welcome to Spotlight Series, a regular feature shining a light on emerging local music makers in the stellar music community in Manitoba.
By Zoë Mills
Stun (known off stage as Winston Chubb) is a Winnipeg-based Indigenous hip hop artist who’s been recognized by #FirstUp with RBCxMusic, the International Indigenous Hip Hop Awards, the Indigenous Screen Awards, and more.
He spends the Monday of a long weekend celebrating his greatest achievement: his family. After an all-day birthday party for his one-year-old daughter, he’s beaming.
Stun says the transition into fatherhood and related growing pains were primary influences in the creation of his latest album, Lifestylez of the Fresh & Indigenous.
“I wanted to make something youth can learn from,” he says. “With the hip hop [genre], there’s a lot of talk of violence and addiction. I wanted to put a little more emphasis on loving yourself, on believing in yourself, on being true to who you are.”
The 11-track album (which includes recently released singles “Indigenous” and “Highz & Lowz”) dropped earlier this month and features The Resilience, Forrest Eaglespeaker, The North Sound, Dale Mac, and Played the Fool, with production by Sebastian Gaskin.
Stun says this release is the most personal of his discography. The lyrics speak to his own mental health journey, the effects of intergenerational trauma, and emotional vulnerability. He says working with others on a project that’s so close to home helped him push each song to its full potential.
Stun’s 2017 debut album, The Influence, allowed for a bold entrance into the music scene and earned a top spot on the Indigenous Music Countdown. Looking back on it, Stun can see how much he has grown as both an artist and a person in the past 5 years.
“The first album was pretty much a jumble of songs that I had sitting around for years,” he explains. “This one is more thought-provoking. I actually had to sit down and think about what I wanted to do with my music and how I wanted it to impact others.”
Not only does he want to create a more positive hip hop sound, he also wants his work to send a clear message to Indigenous youth.
“I want them to believe in themselves and to have pride in who they are. A lot of our Indigenous youth go through a lot of hardships and a lot of it comes with suicide. And I would like to [encourage] them to really love themselves more and love what they do.”
Stun reflects on his own childhood. Originally from Oxford House, he says he moved around a lot throughout his younger years.
“I was always the new kid in town. That came with bullying and with a lot of separation from the crowd. Even though I'm Indigenous, a lot of these kids up North would treat me differently just because I don't look like their type of Indigenous. It was always a lot of fighting to fit in and find my space.”
Stun found solace in sport—everything from hockey to volleyball to skateboarding to dance. He says he’s always been immersed in his culture and danced the grass dance at Pow Wows throughout his childhood.
Grass dancing introduced him to breakdancing, which ultimately introduced him to hip hop music. He instantly fell in love with the genre and says he’ll never forget seeing hip hop artist Hellnback on TV for the very first time.
“I was maybe nine years old. I thought it was the coolest thing ever because it was an Indigenous person being represented on MuchMusic. I felt like I could do something like that as well.”
Today, Stun recognizes the responsibility he holds as an artist and a father. He’s dedicated to being a positive role model for his own kids as well as all Indigenous children that he has the platform to inspire.
Stun has found the heart of his work, and he looks forward to growing around and building upon it. A second project with Played the Fool and Denis Ankrah is coming soon. Stay tuned.
Zoë Mills was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She writes for The Good Will Social Club.