Northern hip hop artist trades firewood for first studio album

Dynamic duo make special trade in creating northern hip hop album. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Shedden)

Woodcutter by day, hip-hop artist by night, Dylan Jones, commonly known as Crook the Kid has made a special deal for his first studio album.

Dylan has been responsible for preparing firewood for the home since he was a little boy. (Photo courtesy of Dylan Jones)

Jones will be trading one cord of wood per song in order to produce, mix and master this project.

“Trading blood and sweat…I think, it more or less resembles how the North was built,” he says.

All the work is done by hand and will take a full day’s worth of labour to produce just one cord.

The album will be anywhere from seven to nine songs, Jones said, and “eats up every waking hour of my thought process.”

Jones has partnered with Andrew Shedden, his neighbour, who just so happens to own Bell Rock Recording studio in Fort Smith.

The relationship happened organically, as the pair both realized they could use each other’s services. Andrew needed the wood to keep him warm during the cold winter months and Jones had music to make.

“We both have a very silly sense of humour when we hang out,” Sheddan says. “It’s a good fit.”

‘Homecoming’

“This is a story of a northern kid who almost (messed) it all up and was lucky enough to come back from,” said Jones.

Unlike previous works, this album takes on a different approach to storytelling– allowing Jones a sense of healing in the process.

“It’s from a perspective of someone who’s learned and accepted some of the trials and tribulations that we had to go through growing up,” he says.

Now he feels he’s in a place where he can help others, through his music, he says, “I’m able to speak from some sort of position of knowledge, not a place of hurt.”

In his music, Jones references things like intergenerational trauma, addiction and the effects of suicide that continue to plague his community of Fort Good Hope and other small communities in the north.

Jones is still teasing out the title to reflect more of a ‘Homecoming’ as he paints a more mature reflection of life, fatherhood and artistry.

Jones attributes this newfound light to his children and family that continue to affect him profoundly. (Photo courtesy of Dylan Jones)

He says he struggled on his last project, having to repeat past traumas over and over again in his shows.

“For the sake of my mental health, I couldn’t keep doing it to myself,” he says.

Due to the nature of his music, coupled with the pandemic, Jones decided to take a break from performing so that he may take some time to heal and focus on the other facets of his life.

Shedden says, “I really want to be able to translate that (energy) into the record, that sort of intensity that he brings to his live performances.”

Jones also hopes his mother gains a better perspective of his young adult life through this album and why he struggled throughout his youth.

The album is scheduled to drop in September.

Upcoming northern tour

After the album’s release, Jones is set to tour all five regions of the NWT.

In partnership with the Northern Arts Cultural Centre (NACC), Jones will be touring about a dozen high schools across the NWT to not only promote his album but to encourage more youth to pursue music.

Marie Coderre is the executive director for NACC and has been deeply involved in Jones’s career, since the beginning.

“I think hip hop is such a great way of doing poetry,” she says, “and Dylan has always been a big force when it comes to writing, and how he sees himself as an Indigenous artist.”

“I think he can be a really good role model,” she adds.

The tour starts in November.

About the Author

Mariah Caruso
Mariah Caruso is a digital journalist, originally from Toronto, Canada. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a Hons. Bachelor of Arts and completed her Journalism post-grad at Sheridan College. She has an insatiable appetite for life, storytelling, connecting to the people, and getting to the heart of the issue. Mariah is excited to begin her journey and career in Yellowknife, NWT, and get involved with the community. If you have a story idea, feel free to send her an email at mariah.caruso@cklbradio.com