Mi’kmaq hiphop and rapper Blake Francis is a member of City Natives. The products of the group, which were followed by a large number of fans in Canada, were honored with four Canadian awards. The group is currently preparing an album scheduled for release in the fall of 2021. After several years of training with his group, Blake Francis decided to pursue a solo career in parallel. He is about to release his first personal album. Interview with the artist to talk about his early career, either with City Natives or singles.
Blake Francis has been composing music since he was a teenager. He loves metal, but also rap. He has no formal music education, but he does practice with his friends in his spare time. It is inspired by world famous American rappers such as Tupac, Dr. Dre or Eminem. “I drank from music myths to build my own musical style,” he explains. While hanging out with the community, he attends a semi-professional recording, which makes him want to record his own songs. This is the beginning of his professional music career.
Blake Francis sometimes performs as a solo artist, sometimes as a member of a musical group. It is part of the rap group City Natives that has won many awards and prizes for the quality of its music. However, he wants to develop his voice by recording his own songs.
Blake Francis takes his first steps into the major tournaments by auditioning for Brookes Diamond Productions. “They helped great artists. They put their performances in places like Dollywood in the United States,” he explains. Then the artist sang for several months for Brookes Diamond Productions, in a band known as Mi’kmaq Nation. The group was formed by the entertainment company. “We had the opportunity to perform in front of thousands of people, which allowed me to gain some recognition as a professional musician,” says Blake Francis.
Blake Francis had a very specific way of collaborating with future members of his City Natives group. Artists collaborate first in their personal capacity: they do not form a formal group yet. “We all lived in different communities, but we logged into MSN. So we changed through the platform,” he explains. A first artist sent a recording with his side, then a second artist completed it. This other artist forwarded the recording to a third artist, once he enriched the latter in his turn. This third artist completed the recording in turn, and so on.
One thing led to another, friends noted that their music was fun for the audience. They decide to form City Natives. So, Blake Francis, Girl Frances, Brandon Arnold, and Shelby Sapir formalize their collaboration. They all come from different indigenous communities and nations. “It went well for us. We produced a lot of music. They decided to manage their careers by themselves without the help of a producer or record company.” We realized it was better for us to promote ourselves, ”says Blake Francis. The producers have many artists to manage and they are busy all the time, ”he comments.
After several months of self-promotion, the citizens It is gaining more and more recognition. Fans are asking for a spin. The four musicians then travel across Canada to present their songs at concerts. The tour ended with the production of an album that won an Aboriginal Music Award. In total, the group received four awards during the years of its activity. “The tour made a big difference for us in terms of profession. We got back what we invested in it,” says Blake Francis.
As a solo artist, Blake Francis’ music is slightly different from what he created with his band. “With the townspeople, we have a distinct style,” he admits. The singer loves to explore his own songs: he is less interested in satisfying fans than he is with the natives. “The townspeople are more politicians than I produced alone. My songs are just an opportunity to have fun.” While he is currently working on his first solo album, he is also preparing for a City Native comeback with the release of a new album in the fall of 2021.
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