They are A Tribe Called Red, and they will change the way you think about social justice and electronic music. In 2008, the crew began to experiment with a dance concept at an Ottawa club called Electric Pow Wow. The sound continues to evolve as a unique fusion between tribal chanting, powwow drum rhythms and more modern influences from dubstep to trap and electro.
It didn't take long to turn this weekly experiment into a movement. Their third album – We Are The Halluci Nation – takes their message of consciousness and justice a step further for audiences. Not only is it more explicit about the long history of injustice against natives in the Americas, it is shifting the conversation about how and why we listen to music. Canada’s CBC radio touted this album as “critical listening for all Canadians.”
The album opens with the title track which features spoken word poetry from John Trudell, a lifelong activist for indigenous human rights, native culture and yes, even industrial hemp. One of the last renaissance men among us, the late Trudell – of Santee Dakota descent – was known widely known for his musical and acting talents. But before all of that, he was vicious in his defense of tribal sovereignty, spirituality and the need to protect their claims of sacred lands.
"We are the tribe they cannot see. We live on an industrial reservation. We the Halluci Nation ... We are the evolution, the continuation," Trudell says in the opening track.
ATCR creates a beautiful beat underneath his powerful words to teach listeners about the dark, oppressive side of colonialism that aggressively spread across the continent following the arrival of Europeans and hyper-capitalist culture.
The album comes at a seminal time in native history, as tribes nationwide assemble to support the Sioux nation, who are currently locked in a fight to protect their territory against the interests of shareholders behind the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline.
“Members of the Halluci Nation are anybody who is willing to accept they need to learn how to treat other people like humans,” says ATCR’s Bear Witness. Watch the video for 'We Are The Halluci Nation' below. You can pick up the album on iTunes.
+ Stream A Tribe Called Red on Soundcloud