Native Puppy Love

27 Sep

I’ll open this post with a track and video by A Tribe Called Red (a Native American DJ Crew out of Ottawa):

The track is just gorgeous, but what really struck me is the video.  Their whole channel is full of music videos that follow much the same format: twitchy, color-shifted, repetitious clips of racist stereotypes of Native Americans set to their unique brand of pounding dance music, which sits somewhere between dubstep and electro-house and makes extensive use of samples of Native American singers (their style has even been dubbed “pow-wow-step”.)

In a time when many pop-culture images of Native Americans and Native American culture are usually racist stereotypes (ever hear the song “Indian Outlaw”?  Or how about Ke$ha’s American Idol Performance? Fashion is a culprit, too, even when it’s not so trendy), ATCR’s stuff is refreshing.  It re-interprets a traditional Native American style of music in a way that makes it accessible to the EDM scene at large, and at the same time reframes the racist images of Native Americans that most of us grew up with in a way that makes their racism and their falsehood crystal clear.  All this, they do without being preachy (and pretty damn danceable, to boot.)

I’d highly recommend reading this interview they did with MTV in 2011, and checking out the collaboration they did with the UCLA Ethnomusicology Review (their website also hosts a longer commentary on this work, which includes a video interview.)

I’ll leave you with a remix of the opening track that I really like, and that summarizes the sort of hyper-trans-cultural nature of the online EDM scene.  It’s done by DJ Javier Estrada, a Mexican producer who labels it in the genre “trap” (which is itself an appropriation of Southern rap music by the online EDM scene):

Thanks for reading!


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