"Stadium Pow Wow" by A TRIBE CALLED RED ft. BLACK BEAR

Closing the gap
Music often both shapes and reflects the culture of the present time and place. We are used to seeing this manifest itself rather explicitly through songs that protest wars, condemn the actions of politicians, or discuss problems of drug abuse and police brutality. Some groups prefer to express their interpretation of the current cultural milieu more subtly, however. A Tribe Called Red, an electronic music group out of Canada consisting of members of the Nipissing First Nation, the Mohawk of the Six Nations of the Grand River, and the Cayuga First Nation, illustrate the tension that Native North Americans feel between modern culture and their ancient ancestral culture by creating a new genre known as powwow-step. Their latest song “Stadium Pow Wow,” is a reflection of this tension, as it combines traditional Native North American pow wow chanting and singing with modern dubstep and hip hop beats. While the track is not overly complex, the group’s talent is undeniable; the combination of hard hitting beats, intense progressions, and the aggressive chanting and singing creates a powerful energy that you can feel coursing through your veins.
Perhaps the group is making a statement about indigenous people taking back their largely squashed traditional culture, perhaps they are trying to close the gap that exists between indigenous North Americans and the rest of the continent or perhaps they simply wanted to create a unique brand of electronic music that highlights their cultural experience. Regardless of their intentions, which can only be speculated by us critics, A Tribe Called Red has succeeded on all accounts. Music is one of the great equalizers, something all of us, regardless of race, have in common, and Canada’s newest superstars are making their mark on this common ground that we all share.