Hailing from Ontario, Canada, are A Tribe Called Red, a native producer and DJ crew blending elements of hip hop, dubstep, and house with traditional pow wow songs and drumming. Now comprised of Tim "2oolman" Hill (Mohawk, of the Six Nations of the Grand River), and Ehren "Bear Witness" Thomas (of the Cayuga First Nation), ATCR are a testament to the enduring strength and importance of indigenous cultures.
Since forming in 2008, A Tribe Called Red have established their voice in an essential renewed aboriginal rights movement known as Idle No More. Their last full-length, 2016’s We Are the Halluci Nation, is a concept album that features the stories of aboriginal voices, addressing the impact of colonisation on indigenous people in the modern world. The lyrics of the late native activist and musician John Trudell open the record, defining the Halluci Nation as “the tribe that they cannot see” who “see the spiritual in the natural” in contrast to the oppressive ALie Nation, who “see the material religions through trauma [where] nothing is related, all the things of the earth and in the sky have energy to be exploited.” Featuring collaborations with artists such as rappers Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def) or Saul Williams, Polaris Prize-winning singers Tanya Tagaq and Lido Pimienta, to Manawan Atikamekw Nation drum group Black Bear, Australian aboriginal band OKA, or Swedish-Sami singer Maxida Marak, the record’s empowering anti-colonial message is poetic and clear.
Ahead of their appearance at Festsaal Kreuzberg on the same day, Lisa Blanning speaks to 2oolman and Bear Witness about their music, inspirations, and affinity for bass-heavy beats, as well as their wide-ranging artistic collaborations and explorations, their role in shaping modern indigenous identity, and how they’re pushing the Halluci Nation forward.
Lisa Blanning is an American writer and editor on music, art and culture. She is a former editor at The Wire Magazine in London and Electronic Beats in Berlin—the city she currently operates out of. She is especially engaged in movements in contemporary electronic music and digital art and culture.
Hailing from Ontario, Canada, are A Tribe Called Red, a native producer and DJ crew blending elements of hip hop and dubstep with traditional pow wow vocal chanting and drumming.