A Tribe Called Red - We Are The Halluci Nation
Released September 16, 2016
By Kendra Cooper
A Tribe Called Red has made an album fit for the times. It inserts itself politically and sits perfectly at this moment in history. As soon as the album opens, you know you’re in for a story and a statement. Native voices follow Indigenous activist and poet John Trudell’s words on the title track, introducing the listener to their third album We Are the Halluci Nation.
This isn’t some vague protest music calling out to a hard-to-grasp cause. It is relevant and part of our cultural landscape. Colonialism, missing Indigenous women, incarceration, residential schools, reserves and the environment are all woven through body-shaking beats. One cannot help but have a spiritual response. This is a breathtaking mixture of Indigenous heritage and electronic dance music.
This album was made in the spirit of solidarity. What makes We Are the Halluci Nation stand out from other albums in the dance genre is the story being told. The voices stand out above the beats, and it was created to make you think while you move your feet. Dancing has a way of bringing people together, and ATCR has added a consciousness to this experience.
Collaboration and intention are threaded throughout We Are the Halluci Nation. The group has pulled in activists, artists and Indigenous musicians from around the world while highlighting intersecting struggles. Musician Saul Williams, Colombian artist Lido Pimienta, indigenous Australian band OKA and Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq are among the list of creators on this project.
Second on the album, R.E.D. features Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def) and Narcy, two accomplished music makers who mic drop with political lyrics in their own past work. Native group Black Bear add their own incredible layer to this track. The drums send a shiver down your spine while Bey and Narcy offer the kind of rhymes you can really get behind.
Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq hypnotizes on Sila. You’ll feel yourself breathing with her.
Lido Pimienta shines on The Light. Her voice is filled with a smooth but powerful energy that moves effortlessly between the quick and lightweight percussion. Towards the end of the song, the electricity is introduced through synth leading to a strong close.
Shad, Northern Voice and Leonard Sumner address oppression in How I Feel. The song reaches out to anyone who has felt the heavy weight of injustice, racism and colonialist violence.
A Tribe Called Red features the electronic beat while honouring the fact that the drum is best expressed by the hands of the people.