Kinnie Starr: Lifelines, Hip Hop, and Half-blood Old Blues

Hey fierce listeners!  Welcome to MsRepresent: Behind the Face, a Fierce Woman.  My name is Charlene Sayo, your host for the next half an hour and every week, I have the honour to have lively conversations with unique, trailblazing women in the arts, sciences, literature, music, politics, activism, feminism and more.  Today’s episode is the second installment of the month-long, Women in Hip Hop special series where I feature conversations with Maya Jupiter, Asa Lianess, Kinnie Starr and Ana Tijoux.

For this episode, I have the multi-lingual, multi-talented, highly experimental, politically-charged, Juno-award winning Kinnie Starr.  The Calgary-born, BC-based artist was recognized as pioneer in Canadian hip hop by Toronto’s Manifesto Festival in 2011. Her music has been described as “edgy and enchanting” by the New Yorker, and the Record Magazine has described Kinnie as being a “sensual, spiritual, self-possessed [artist]…blazing her own influential trail.”  I caught up with Kinnie last week in Vancouver during her tour for her latest album, From Far Away, where she discussed social justice over the music industry, her environmentalism, how hip hop correlates with her Indigenous ancestry, and retiring from the music industry.


stairsKinnie Starr is one of Canada’s most adored and critically acclaimed underground musicians. Widely known in hip hop circles as an artist with a strikingly authentic voice, Starr has been blazing trails since 1996 with her beat slamming recordings, outspoken race and gender politics, intelligent and edgy visual art.

Hailing originally from Calgary, Alberta, the multi-lingual artist pushes artistic boundaries by ignoring them. The mixed-blood Mohawk uses her degree in women’s studies, her love of hip hop and street art, and her untrained intuitive talent as a pulse in all her music.

In 2010 Starr won a Juno for her production on Digging Roots’ second album, “We Are”, and she was nominated at the APCMA’s for her video, “It’s All You,” produced by Big Soul Productions. She also played the Olympics in Vancouver, BC with The Borealis String Quartet. In 2011 she was recognized as a pioneer in hip hop alongside Michee Mee by Toronto’s Manifesto Festival.

Intro/outro music:  Rainbow” by Emilie Simon.  Remix from the original.

Additional music: “A tua choradeira é meio salário em lenços” by Stealing Orchestra & Rafael Dionísio.  Remix from the original.