Release Date: September 16th, 2016
Label: Pirates Blend
I don’t think there is an album in 2016 that is more powerful than A Tribe Called Red’s We Are The Halluci Nation.
A Tribe Called Red manage to meld traditional Native sounds, political issues into a package that is appealing, addictive even to the listener. It sucks you in right away with the album’s title track featuring activist John Trudell reciting “We Are the Hallucination”. This is an album to be listening to in order. To follow the story, the flow that presents itself throughout.
There are some killer beats on this thing. “R.E.D.” pairs Native chants by the Black Bear singers and drums with the rapping of Yasiin Bey and Narcy who bring their political messages. Epic beat drops present themselves in “The Virus”, with vocals by Saul Williams. I can imagine how the lines “We are not the conquered people” or “The compound was on fire” will work live. These messages are ingrained in us with rhythm.
Strategically placed after capturing our attention with the first songs is a call with Joseph Boyden who wrote The Orenda. Boyden talks about someone named “Charlie” which I think is a nickname for Chanie Wenjack who died running away from a residential school in 1966.
This is followed by Tanya Tagaq’s throat singing in the infectious track “Sila”. Everytime she partners with ACTR is pure magic. The album slows down for a stunning pop ballad by Lido Pimienta. “The Light” continues itself a few tracks later in English.
ACTR are very effective at creating tracks that will make you dance. Songs like “Maima Koopi”, “JHD” and “Eanan” don’t have much understandable vocables but we are effectively hooked in.
Shad lends his voice to “How I Feel” which features one of the most powerful inclusion of native singers. It’s like Shad is telling us to listen to their pain, and we do.
“ALie Nation” is technically the final musical track, bringing together the powerful voice of Trundell, Tagaq’s throat singing and vocables by Pimienta into an epic close before “SOON” where Boyden hangs up the prison phone.
This is not an album that people will pretend to like because it’s socially conscious, they will like it because it’s really fuckin’ good too.