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Who’s down with PPE? All the homies.

These days, wearing a face mask and keeping your physical distance are the cool things to do, and a new rap and video from Winnipeg-based St. Amant wants to know: are you down with PPE?

"‘P’ is for personal, the other ‘P’ is for protective, the last letter, ‘E’? That stands for the equipment," as local musician Felisha Hartig puts it in the new track, reminding Manitobans wearing the gear is the best way to show love to health-care heroes.

"We recognize that our front-line health-care workers and support workers are putting in a lot of work for all of us," Jocelyne Nicolas, who managed the St. Amant project, explained in an interview Tuesday.

"We know that the best thing that we can do is to help in the fight on COVID, and layered on that we’ve got the fatigue that everyone is feeling about wearing a mask, PPE — and we thought: how do we encourage everyone in a fun and lighthearted way?"

Nicolas, a self-proclaimed "hip hop head," said she wanted to throw support to local artists in the hip hop community, so she and the team brought writer Charlie Fettah, producer BBS Steve and performer Hartig — who is also a front-line support worker with West End 24/7 — together on the beat.

Nicolas said the artists were all "really honoured" to chip in.

"Everybody wants to be able to pull together, so it was a really lovely way to give some people an opportunity to get engaged," she added.

Along with the fresh beat comes a new video featuring some little-known local PPE-wearing talent, including third-grader Toby, who misses hugging his great-grandma, school principal Simon looking to protect his students, and St. Amant staff Shelley and Dena, who are looking out for each other and the people they care for.

All these stars were brought together to show "everybody’s got a reason" to do their part, said Nicolas.

The song and video are dedicated to Manitoba's front-line health-care workers, Nicolas said, as a way to give props for all the work they do to keep the community safe.

"We say it all the time, but we’ll always take the opportunity to say it again, that we thank them for this work — this is a fun way for us to show that we’re behind them and we want everybody to mask up and protect each other."

Some might recognize the beat as a play off an iconic Naughty By Nature track — a delight for fans of 1990s hip hop — ultimately meant to get people bopping, smiling, and reminded of their role in helping support the community at-large, said Nicolas.

"We’re hoping that everyone has a cute, lighthearted reminder to keep strong with those masks, hand-washing and social distancing until we get through this," Nicolas said.

"This is really hard on everybody — so let’s dance a little bit."

Twitter: @jsrutgers

Julia-Simone Rutgers

Julia-Simone Rutgers

Julia-Simone Rutgers is a general-assignment reporter.

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