It’s been called “pow wow step,” with music mixing genres to create a style of contemporary sound that rouses the dance club scene.
Canada’s A Tribe Called Red are an acclaimed electronic DJ collective mixing hip hop, reggae, dubstep and musical traditions of the First Nations. Based in Ottawa, Ontario, the group consists of three DJs: Ian “DJ NDN” Campeau of the Nipissing First Nation; Tim “2oolman” Hill (Mohawk, of Six Nations of the Grand River); and Bear Witness of Cayunga First Nation.
The band name is in obvious homage to A Tribe Called Quest, the ’90s hip hop group that paved the way for songs and music tackling social grievances.
And the ties run deep for A Tribe Called Red. They celebrate the modern arc into urban and contemporary indigenous culture and experience, using tribal sound to celebrate its complexity and speak out against cultural appropriation.
They are outspoken supporters of Idle No More, an ongoing protest in support of indigenous rights, have issued a public statement asking non-aboriginal fans to refrain from wearing headdresses and war paint to their shows, and have filed a human rights complaint against an amateur football club in Ottawa that was using Redskins as its club name.
Collectively, they are positive role models for those who find themselves underrepresented, misrepresented or blatantly devalued. The use of a musical platform to address the cultural issues has allowed them to make a cultural and social impact in Canada.
On their latest album, “We Are The Halluci Nation,” Native American activist, poet and musician John Trudell is the first voice you hear. The album includes a number of other connections as well, from hip hop stars Yasiin Bey (AKA Mos Def) and Saul Williams to Colombian visual artist and musician Lido Pimienta to native musicians Black Bear and Tanya Tagaq to the Australian aboriginal band OKA or the Swedish-Sami singer Maxida Marak. Together these change-makers produce a mix of powerful protest music set to pounding beats.
The music is meant to accompany dance, moving seamlessly through supercharged drums to sing-songy samples. The album is energetic, but their live shows inspire fans to move their bodies along with their souls. It’s been a journey for A Tribe Called Red and their music is political progress — one with a really great soundtrack.
A Tribe Called Red
12:30 a.m. March 10
Club One, 1 Jefferson St.