Published on March 25, 2014 by Amy
Jeremiah Manitopyes was born in the summer of 1982 to parents of Cree and Saulteaux decent. Originally from Saskatoon, Drezus also lived in Calgary, Ottawa and Winnipeg. Growing up Drezus faced many obstacles both avoidable and unavoidable. A latch-key kid at the age of 6, his single mother did everything she could to raise Drezus right and do all she could for him. Life was a struggle but she always made sure he was wearing the freshest new clothes to school and was fed. They didn’t have much but they managed and were happy. School wasn’t the easiest for Drezus, though the work was easy and he always made good grades, he was often the target for schoolyard bullies. His father’s influence didn’t help growing up; he was a heavy alcoholic with abusive tendencies.
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At the age of 9, with the encouragement of his father, Drezus started using drugs and things began to change. Drugs lead to drinking alcohol, which led to a negative group of friends, which led to a life of crime and gangs. By the age of 15, Drezus had dropped out of school.
Growing up with a life of crime, abuse and poverty is a story not uncommon to young Aboriginal men, and many have no outlet to express themselves. Drezus used poetry to express himself and to escape the hopelessness of his circumstances. His poetry soon turned to raps he learned to time his vocals to beats. In the late 90s Stomp, a music producer from Hobbema, Alberta who had done work with one of Canada’s first hip-hop groups, the critically acclaimed War Party, gave Drezus a beat CD. From there they formed Rezofficial Music. Their music got attention quickly and Drezus was one of the first Aboriginal people to be on Much Music. Hip-hop music as a genre was still largely underground and mainstream had just picked up on the unique urban sound. They began touring and released a successful album THE FOUNDATION in 2004 and won a Canadian Aboriginal Music Award for Best Hip-Hop Album in 2004.
Though his music was going places, Drezus was still living a negative lifestyle of crime and drugs. The years 2004-2012 were what Drezus describes as “hell – both in and out of jail and hell in my head” and he hit rock bottom. Getting out of the criminal lifestyle isn’t easy especially when you are battling addiction and depression, but Drezus has come out the other side more creative, strong, smart and alive than ever. Though the story of a young Aboriginal man struggling isn’t unique, coming out the other side alive and well is something that speaks to the strength of his spirit and perseverance of heart.