The Drake of Nunavut

From heartfelt tributes to aggressive rap and music production, when it comes to hip-hop, Arviat’s Jacob Okatsiak can just about do it all.

His many musical talents help explain why he’s been dubbed ‘the Drake of Nunavut,’ a title that surprised him when he first heard it.

“I never thought I’d be perceived as the Drake of Nunavut,” said Okatsiak with a smile between flights.

The Hitmakerz-signed rapper was on his way to Iqaluit to perform at the NUPOP showcase festival.

He just released Fly High, the lead track on his upcoming album Inuugapta, scheduled for release in early 2023.

The song is a tribute to his late friend Nigvik.

Okatsiak remembers working to sanitize and clean up playgrounds during Covid when he ran into Nigvik. The two had a conversation he’ll never forget.

“I had just recently put out a song that time, and he was like, ‘Hey Philip (Okatsiak’s legal first name), you should try to make a cool song I could listen to some day,’” recalled Okatsiak.

It was only a few weeks later that Nigvik was lost in a tragic camping accident.

Fly High talks about hoping Nigvik is having a good time in heaven, and wondering if he’s playing hockey or soccer up there.

Okatsiak’s 15-track debut album features several other Nunavut rappers, including Shauna Seeteenak, Hyper-T and Chris Jr. Mikeeuneak. The music has a range of styles and covers different subjects.

“Fly High is a tribute, a heartfelt song to my friend,” said Okatsiak. “Whereas other songs like Eliminate and Undefeated are like ‘Rrr, I can rap rap.’ Then there’s songs like Drowning, which is based off sort of a failed relationship. There’s this one song called Smile, a happy song. It ranges from all different emotions.”

Most of the album is in English, but he performs some parts in Inuktitut, like the chorus on Fly High.

Okatsiak says he’s done enough writing for this album, and he has enough content for two more.

“I want to see where this is going to go as my first album,” he said. “Seeing that Fly High is doing extremely well and it’s having some positive feedback, I’m looking forward to the release of my full album.”

Okatsiak will also be touring with Atii Angutiit, a program devoted to helping improve mental health among young men in the territory this winter.

“I want to express my feelings and emotions and to try to help as much as I can,” said Okatsiak.

Fly High is available on all streaming platforms.

Stewart Burnett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kivalliq News