December 31, 2010

A Tribe Called Red

Start your new year off right with a Tribe Called Red--and see if you can stereotype THIS

By Jessica YeeI wanted to alert you all to some amazing Native peeps that are taking de-bunking Indigenous stereotypes to a whole new level--via music, dance, electric beats, hip-hop, and mind-blowing remixes to decolonize you all over--especially in those hard to reach places.

They are A Tribe Called Red and they hail from un-ceeded Algonquin territory in Ottawa (Canada). I’ve been going to their monthly Electric Powwow dance parties for a little while now where I’ve been known to shake my butt off and whisper politikin’ sweet-nothings into my friends ears as the unrepentant drum mash-ups beat on. I actually got to meet one part of the Electric Powwow craze DJ Bear Witness a while back when I emceed an Indigenous women’s spoken word show where he played a 65 minute beat set to an anti-war critique of colonization.

So I was beyond pleased to learn that MTV writers are now picking up on their stuff and making progressive-for-MTV-statements about them like, “it’s as right on and brilliant as a fashion shoot with emaciated European models in war bonnets is ignorant and lazy.” Which is interesting because lest we forget that MTV also produced the Dudesons who as some may recall me writing about here, very famously rode the train of appropriation and kept going west on their “Cowboys and Findians” episode that had just about every Native stereotype you can think of (and attempts from community to pull the show off MTV and issue an apology were unsuccessful). Not to mention of course the myriad of racist typecasting that plays on MTV 24/7.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Nooksacks Rap About Rising Above, Algonquin Rapper Rocks China, and Eastern Cherokee Hip-Hop Artist.

1 comment:

Rob said...

For more on the subject, see:

COVER:  Massive Aboriginal attack

DJ collective A Tribe Called Red hope to create a new Native identity with “badd azz” parties, remixes of traditional songs and no hipster headdresses

By Erin MacLeod

“Wearing headdresses isn’t ‘cool,’” says DJ and video artist Bear Witness of the three-man powerhouse all-Aboriginal DJ collective that is A Tribe Called Red. Alongside two-time DMC scratch DJ champion Dan General, aka DJ Shub, and Ian Campeau, aka DJ NDN, who initially got into music through punk rock—he once was the drummer for Montreal’s Ripcordz— ATCR are willing to calmly explain exactly why it ain’t okay.

They make their point clear by merging popular representations of “Indian” culture with the real thing—in music and video, and through the monthly event Electric Pow Wow, which showcases Aboriginal DJs and Native urban culture. These guys put together some of the most unique, inspired and intense bass music out there. Using huge, heavy, drum-driven chunks of dancehall, dubstep, moombahton and traditional singing, they bring multiple influences together to produce tunes that make it difficult not to pay attention and impossible not to dance. This is big music that expresses and expands upon the notion of urban Aboriginal culture. Don’t forget to play it really loud.

NDN is Ojibway from Nipissing First Nation, while Bear and Shub are both Cayuga from Six Nations, but they all classify themselves as urban Aboriginals. As NDN describes, this is some­one who is Aboriginal but “has never lived on a reservation, which makes it hard to find roots and any form of culture.” Each member of ATCR identifies with this situation. Yes, they all spent time on a reserve but felt somewhat outside of the culture. “I would hang out with my cousins, but I wasn’t from there,” explains NDN. “I was always accepted, but I was different. But at the same time, growing up, I was called ‘Chief,’ or ‘No Tax’ through high school. That’s the other side of being made fun of, because you are an Aboriginal, but you don’t really have a strong sense of identi­ty and right now, we are trying to give ourselves an identity. That’s what our party is about anyway.”