Saskatchewan-based collective, People of the Sun, is a unifying force bringing together people of different cultural backgrounds, ages, genders, and faiths to create impactful hip-hop and funk music and to be an example of inclusion and reconciliation in and for our community.
Part of the Sharp 5 Records family, their self-titled debut album showcases their absorbing and sonically layered music. People of the Sun’s songs were recorded “live off the floor” to showcase that not every beat and note needs to be perfect — striving for something human during inhuman times. The collective wrote the final product as every member was given free rein to draw from their inspirations on the theme.
“We have eight people in our crew, all talented in their own way, each with their own story,” says guitarist/producer Erik Mehlsen. “There’s not a second to be bored on the whole album; you get a buffet of personalities to fill your plate every time.”
Comprised of members from Little Black Bear First Nation MC Info Red, Pakistani-born MC and producer Origin of Spin, Nigerian-born singer/songwriters Nini Jegz, Regina-born Lexy Desjarlais, and keyboardist Ethan Reoch, drummer Cyprian Henry and bass player Rob Lane, People of the Sun are a testament to the power of collaboration and the success that can come from a shared artistic vision.
The midst of ongoing social unrest and adversity was the backdrop of the People of the Sun LP. Each track captures the collaborative brilliance of eight individuals looking to speak meaningful, mindful music that can be of benefit to their listeners. “Our Power” is a response to the conversation around abortion legislation in the United States, while “Domino” talks about the perils of gang violence in Regina’s inner city. The newest single, “kayas (A Long Time Ago),” speaks to the power of music being a tool for mental health, and in contrast, the album opener, “Applause,” is a funk party banger. The album boldly states that hip-hop does not need to be limited to drum machines and synthesizers.
In the first years of the band’s existence, People of the Sun recorded two EPs, performed at the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival, received national press from Exclaim!, was featured on the Earshot Hip-Hop Charts and has received regular rotation on CBC’s Strombo Show. In December 2022, the band received R&B Artist of the Year at the Saskatchewan Music Awards. In addition, the band is part of the Sharp 5 Records family, a label that seeks to create live-off-the-floor records with video to capture real musicians making music together, where they live and work.
Written collaboratively, People of the Sun demonstrate the power of collective effort and show how a single common goal can bring joy and success even with different life paths. It strikes a rare balance between “we” and “me,” highlighting the importance of individual contributions to a collective effort. Their goal? To make a record to show diversity isn’t just for billboards, but that hip hop is real, made by real people.
This ambition was tested repeatedly throughout the 10-month process of making their new LP which spanned which saw two of their three recording sessions canceled due to COVID, the eight-member collective managed to persevere and see their record come to completion.
“Making this record, this way, with this crew, was a steep mountain to climb,” said Mehlsen. “So many hurdles and challenges. But to hear this record, front to back, knowing how and why it was made…makes it all worth it”