A Tribe Called Red
We Are the Halluci Nation
You are more likely to hear about the Cleveland Indian’s battle with the Chicago Cubs in the World Series than you are to hear about The Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s protest of the North Dakota pipeline. Really, it isn’t that surprising. For over 400 years, Native Americans have been treated as second class citizens, their cause often ignored or quickly dismissed. With their third album We Are the Halluci Nation, the Canadian DJ trio called A Tribe Called Red are unwilling to sit idly by while the injustices of colonization continue to wreak havoc on indigenous people of North America.
The three members of the group, Ian “DJ NDN” Campeau (of the Nipssing First Nation), Tim “2oolman” Hill (of the Six Nations of the Grand River), and Bear Witness (of the Cayuga First Nation) met in Ottawa in 2008 and quickly formed a musical bond. Their experimentations eventually evolved into what they refer to as “Pow-Wow Step,” a blending of hip hop, dubstep, and First Nation musical aesthetics. Their creation eventually resulted in a popular club night entitled the “Electric Pow Wow,” a place where young, urban natives could celebrate their heritage via the drum’n’bass lens.
We Are the Halluci Nation is the group’s third and most politically charged effort to date. The album opens with the words of Santee Dakota poet John Trudell proudly introducing the spirit of both the Halluci Nation and the album as a whole: “Our DNA is of earth and sky. Our DNA is of past and future. We are the Halluci Nation. We are the evolution, the continuation.”
“We are the Halluci Nation”:
The album truly is an evolution, not only of traditional tribal music, but dance music as a whole, the constant pounding drums and captivating chants bringing more life to traditional EDM tropes. Songs like “The Light”, “The Muse”, and “Eanan” conjure up a more soulful, serene spirit, while tracks like “The Virus”, “How I Feel”, and “R.E.D” bring in guest rappers like Yasiin Bey and Saul Williams to help express the frustration of a people trying to protect their spiritual homeland and their rich culture.
In a time where electronic music can often seem repetitive and unoriginal, A Tribe Called Red have reinvigorated the genre by drawing from their culture’s past and looking toward the future. This innovative mixture results in an album of songs that can re-invigorate the youth of a nation that has been held back and ignored for way too long.