Flying Dust rap artist proves drive and talent can achieve dreams
- Chelsea Laskowski | May 07, 2018
Michael Vandale remembers the first time he wrote a rap. He was 11-years-old.
“It was chills down my spine. All I could think about was showing my friends and the pride that I got,” he said.
Years went by and the Flying Dust First Nation resident kept writing, filling binders with his lyrics, but didn’t pursue performing in a serious way.
At 29, he’s chasing that feeling once again. A group of friends in the industry who were releasing music inspired him to give it a try, even though he said he initially felt he didn’t have much talent.
“They told me, ‘You definitely got something, you gotta pursue that,’” Vandale said.
Starting off using a $30 microphone, it took him months of steady practice to project confidence with his raps. Under the rap name Gucci Brady, he said he gets a thrill from how people react to him starting off a rhyme slow and picking up speed. Vandale is building his home studio, investing thousands into new equipment to make and record his own beats.
Vandale’s Gucci Brady YouTube videos and the artist collective BRAYV Entertainment on Facebook are part of the new era of distributing music and building name recognition.
“You don’t need a record deal to make music. You got some equipment, a microphone and a laptop, you’re good to go,” he said.
Gucci Brady is one-half of the rap group Brayv Boyz along with Sask Savage, and said he’s been doing a lot of collaborations lately to raise his profile.
The hardest part of living on reserve is the distances, he said. Living near Meadow Lake means he’s travelling at least three hours for a gig. Performing in Saskatchewan cities like Saskatoon and Moose Jaw and travelling across the country for shows in Vancouver and Toronto, is tough to juggle with his four kids -- including a six-month-old -- and a job as a waiter that he’s held for years.
However, Vandale said when work is done and the kids are in bed he wants nothing more than to sit down, write and record.
“Now I feel, I hunger to be, I don’t know, to be something successful,” he said.
He said rapping has opened up doors in his life that he’d never expected or thought were possible.
“Before this music happened, I was pretty much a hermit, I stayed home, went to work, come home,” he said.
Writing about a song every other day, he said his lyrics draw from experiences in his own life. A recent song he wrote called “I Am Brayv” deals with topics like his mother’s recent cancer diagnosis. While he said his childhood wasn’t tough, he faced discrimination, and that channels into his music as well.
Vandale’s boxes full of binders of old music he wrote years ago are clearly cherished.
“I can go back and read a page and I remember where I was when I wrote it. What I was doing that day. It’s like a nostalgic feeling,” he said.
Now that he has kids, he said it’s something he can hang onto for them as well.