There’s no substitute for experiencing A Tribe Called Red’s music and audio-visual assault live, but their debut full-length, a capsule of the past year’s digital releases, is a good start. Much of the Ottawa-based DJ trio’s work – remixes and sample-based originals – centres on “pow wow step,” a powerful, subversive, hyper-Canadian meeting of traditional native drum-and-chant-steered songs and on-trend club music.
Starting with the slow bounce fuzz of opening track Electric Pow Wow Drum, ATCR weave sampled hand drums and vocal chorus lines through hip-hop, dancehall, electro, dubstep and moombahton influences. Weaned on rap and dancehall at school and indigenous rhythms of home, they cleverly articulate the in-between dichotomy felt by young urban Canadians of all backgrounds. To that end, ATCR can make a song by Grammy-nominated Northern Cree (Red Skin Girl) wobble while revving up a Jamaican dancehall chune (Shottas by Mr. Lexx) with earthy, percussive pitter-patter.
Top track: PowWowzers featuring Northern Cree and Clarence Two Toes