The 15 Best Indigenous Music Videos of 2014


Indigenous artists continued their takeover of popular culture in 2014. Here are the best Indigenous music videos of the year.

First things first, if you missed our epic selections of the Best Indigenous Music of 2014, you should go read and listen to what we picked. Also check out the Most Slept-On Indigenous Album of the year.

And as though our top albums, EPs, singles and our Best of 2014 Remixtape weren't enough to satiate your hunger for Native artistry, we've also compiled our favourite Indigenous music videos of 2014.

There were many amazing, cinema-sonic moments put on tape this year, but these were the videos that made the deepest, most engaging, and even funniest, impressions on us.

15. Jayli Wolf - "I Don't Remember"

Part of the fifth season of APTN's First Tracks, this is a sibylline dreamscape for a haunting and deceptively simple song by Jayli Wolf  (Métis). Directed by Michelle Latimer, we love getting lost in the video's black and white layering of starry, underwater, earthy and mesmerizing images.

14. Scatter Their Own- "Taste the Time"

"We are only as clean as our water" says Oglala Lakota duo Scatter Their Own. Want to know why Indigenous people are rising up against pipelines through our territories? This is why. An ominous and of things to come. That is, unless we change course.

13. Princess Nokia - "Nokia"

Cyber-supernatural 90s vibes abound in this neon and glittery ode to anime, BFFs, Nickelodeon, robotic dogs, and Nokia ringtones, among assorted other shimmering oddities. Flashbackward to bedazzled future beats in this trippy slice of this Taino Princess' world. You'll be hypnotized just like we were.

12. Mic Jordan - "Modern Day Warrior (ft. Real Truth)"

Youthful, exuberant, dedicated to the struggle and dropping hip-hop gems, up-and-comer Mic Jordan holds it down rapping directly about what it means to thrive and survive as a modern day warrior for his people, the Turtle Mountain Chippewa. Now that's what's up. This clip comes from Jordan's slept on album, Sometime After 83, which he dropped earlier this year (and which you should go download for free right now). The struggle lives and breathes in the artistry of talented Native MCs like Mic Jordan. "And damn right / I was built to fight". Tell it!

11. Kinnie Starr ft. Ja$E El Niño - "Save Our Waters"

Mohawk artist Kinnie Starr's not one to be shy in speaking her mind and this ode to protecting coastal waters from intrusive pipeline development finds a perfect counterpart in this collab with Haidawood—a stop motion animation video that works perfectly for the track that CBC called "part indictment, part wake-up call". We are in need of both at this point, and this is a creative and playful way to get the message out. Now let it compel action.

10. Drezus - "Warpath"

Although we're not exactly sold on's framing of Indigenous hip-hop as "the most authentic rap we have today" (what is authentic? who is we?), we get what they were trying to say. No one else is bringing together raw talent, creativity and firepower like Native artists. Plains Cree/Saulteaux artist Drezus doesn't mix words or mess around and on this Stuey Kubrick-directed clip, he reps for the people—painted up, fire burning, singers around the drum, wild horses running slow mo, and surrounded by his fam and relations. That's power. Watch it all the way to the end for a special appearance by Beau Dick, master carver and hereditary chief of the Namgis First Nation, making that west coast warrior connect.

9. Angel Haze - "A Tribe Called Red"

Two of our favourite artists joined forces this year and the results exceeded our expectations. Although a lyric video for this tune was released a while back, this official video for Cherokee singer/MC Angel Haze's collab with A Tribe Called Red brings that ultra-crisp, black and white, leather-clad, dialed aesthetic we were hoping for. You want some more? Good luck competing with Angel Haze's "deity swag and omnipotent style".

8. Radical Son - "Human Behaviour"

When minimalism works, it really works. Keeping with that vibe, Kamilaroi artist Radical Son's video for his soulful tune "Human Behaviour" works with opaque spaces, blending deep, dark blacks and fading whites and greys, and using its stripped down visual spectrum to pull the gravity of the song's deep reggae groove out from the depths. Dope.

7. Sacramento Knoxx ft. DJ Dez - "The Trees Will Grow Again"

Community organizer, activist, MC, hip-hop producer and micro-documentary maker, Anishinaabe/Xicano artist Sacramento Knoxx is a man of many talents. This joint brings it all together with a dope visual delivery of rugged anti-imperialist politics, BDS empowerment, and raw hip-hop talent. That, plus the proceeds of the track go to benefiting youth and community. Knoxx is elevating the game and bringing power back to the people. The RaizUp is right. Represent.

6. Cree Nation Artists (Chisasibi Community) - "I Believe"

Ok, this one is pretty amazing. Hip-hop artist/producer and educator David Hodges has been working with the Cree Nation Government on a community-based music project called "N'we Jinan". Travelling throughout Cree communities in Quebec, Hodges set up a mobile studio, created music with youth and, in the process, produced a 19-song album that just went to Number 1 on iTunes in Canada. "I Believe" is the first single from the album—and it's an inspiring showcase of rising youth talent and empowerment. Raise it up for the next generation celebrating "culture, language and love". These are the voices we'll be listening for.

5. Greg Grey Cloud Storms the U.S. Senate with Honor Song After Keystone XL Vote

When the U.S. Senate votes to reject the Keystone XL pipeline by one vote, ONE VOTE, what else are you going to do but sing an honour song until they kick you out of there? Well, that's exactly what Crow Creek Sioux member Greg Grey Cloud did. You want to restore order Elizabeth Warren? Join Greg in "honouring the leaders who stood up for the people". Respect!

4. A Tribe Called Red - "Sisters (ft. Northern Voice)"

It's hard not to get behind a video that features a song we love, made by a crew the entire Native community loves, featuring Natives we recognize, and basically depicting exactly how it feels to get down to Mohawk/Cayuga/Anishinaabe crew A Tribe Called Red's music. Of course it's a party. Of course we're dancing in our bedrooms, in the convenience store, at the club, and in the car. Oh and course we have fireworks, colour smoke bomb things, and a Mohawk Warrior flag flying as we roll down a winter highway with the sunroof rolled back, the windows rolled down, and ATCR on blast in the system. You know we're all headed to the same Electric Powwow night anyways. See you on the dancefloor, relations.

3. Supaman - "Prayer Loop Song" 

Just another day in the life of your average beatboxing, freestyling, regalia wearing, powwow and b-boy fancy dancing, flute playing, drum beating, record scratching, loop-making, Crow Nation hip-hop SUPAMAN. They don't call him that for nothing, you know. Mad mad skills. Watch and learn.

2. Rebel Music - "Native America"

When we found out Rebel Music were debuting their Season 2 premiere, "Native America", as a Facebook-only video stream, we were all "Really guys? Facebook only?". But then we remembered how much NDNs lovvvvvvve Facebook—and how amazing the "Native America" episode is—and we realized this was actually a pretty brilliant strategy. The episode became a rallying cry for Native people across Turtle Island: it was viewed more than 2 million times in its first week (at last count it was approaching 4.5 Million views and still climbing). Needless to say, many tears of joy and shouts of Native Pride were shared (check the FB comments) as we watched ourselves and our community being represented for how we really are: vibrant, creative, alive and thriving in the midst of all the insanity! So special shout outs to Frank Waln, Inez Jasper, Nataanii Means and Mike Cliff for representing their nations—and all of our people—in a good way. Rebel Music: Native America reminded us that everyday is a great day to be Indigenous.

1. 1491s - "Cherokee"

There's no way this wasn't making the cut. Let's face it. With what we're up against, collectively, we all need more humour in our lives. And, according to the Dine/Dakota/Osage/Seminole/Creek comedy crew the 1491s, we all need more Europe in our lives too. The band, that is, not the continent. The 1491s have made a lot of amazing videos over the years, but this one is such an incredible parody of the 1986 hit, there's just no way the original can compete anymore. And that's saying something, because have you seen the original?? All we can say is MOAR. More of this please. More Turdle Island, more NAMMY GOLD, more HBC blanket antics, more decolonizing Europe, and more of whatever the hell Ryan Red Corn is doing. A newly indigenized modern hair metal classic. Aho!

PREMIERE: Stream Sister Says’ New Album “Heart Placement”


Sister Says’ much anticipated second album, Heart Placement, is a soulful, electric mix that sets a new bar for the genre-bending pop duo.

In a departure from the Haida-Tsimshian sibling's jazz-infused first album, Gillian and Robert Thomson, aka Sister Says, along with producer Daivd Meszaros, have crafted twelve fantastic songs. Drawing on soul and an early 70s production sound, they weave electric guitar, keys, organ, and well placed harmonies with an occasional folky acoustic guitar and even a bit of banjo picking. Sonically pared down compared to their last release, the production is tasteful and compelling, bringing the strengths of the melodies and Gillian's voice to the forefront.

For the album, they assembled a crack band of Vancouver musicians including guitarist Lonny Eagleton, drummer Geoff Hicks, pianist Andrew Rasmussen, and, on three of the tracks, pianist Jillian Lebeck.

Recorded over a two year span, Sister Says clearly took the time to create exactly the best album they could, and the result was worth the wait. Lyrically they explore enjoying the present in the positivity-infused title track, they dig into darker depths of loss and hurt in Abel's Underneath and Lost My Soul, and they reflect on change and growth in the closing track Swimming Sharks, which is the sole track to delightfully feature Robert on lead vocals (Gillian's sultry, clear voice delivers all other songs.)

Sister Says has been working and growing steadily since their 2010 debut The Only Way, proving here that they have more ways than one to keep us listening, and loving it. Turn it on and turn it up - the premiere of Heart Placement.

STREAM: Sister Says - "Heart Placement"

Heart Placement is now available for pre-order at

The Best Indigenous Music of 2013


2013 was a very good year for Indigenous music. Here are our favourite reasons why it's an incredible time to tune in. We're still here—and we're still making amazing music.

Look around you: from the front pages of websites, magazines and the news, to the halls of art galleries, centre stages, and dancefloors, clubs, festivals and playlists, Indigenous artists are at the forefront of almost every form of art and culture. And although we love all kinds of creative expression at RPM, this is a particularly inspiring time for Indigenous music.

In a year that began with the sound of the drum, and in the #RoundDanceRevolution that followed, our music has continued to keep us in time and on beat as the world marches ahead—with our people leading the charge.

As we spin back around for #Revolution2 here at RPM, we asked our Indigenous community to weigh in with their picks for the Best Indigenous Music of 2013.

Mohawk radio host, writer and artist Janet Rogers always knows what's up. At the top of her best album list is Derek Miller's Blues Vol. 1. Why? "Hot, rough, sexy, blues." Other top album picks from Janet are The Johnnys' Rock - "A generous offering of the Thinking Man’s Metal Music" and Patrica Cano, Songs from Tomson Highway’s the (post) Mistress, for her "sultry vocals with perfect pitch."

Anishinaabe broadcast journalist and writer Waubgeshig Rice just posted his Top 10 albums of the year, which includes the doomcore metal grind of Biipiigwan's Something for Everyone; Nothing for Anyone, and Leonard Sumner’s Rez Poetrywhich Rice praised as "a riveting portrayal of the unique struggles and triumphs of Anishinaabe people. It’s the album I’ve been waiting my whole life to hear."

The other Wab (Wabanakwut Kinew, that is), also picked Sumner's Rez Poetry along with Inez Jasper, Winnipeg Boyz, and powwow group North Bear as some of his favourites. Anishinaabe musician, scholar and organizer Melody McKiver listed some interesting additions, including Northern Voice's "Dance of the Moon" and shouted-out the Aboriginal 'Australian' MC K-Otic One's righteous hip-hop compilation the "Idle No More (Invasion Day)" mixtape.

Indigenous Waves radio host Susan Blight echoed many of our choices, and also shouted-out the latest from Quese IMC "Handdrum" for bringing "it all back to the roots; the importance of the sacred fire, the ceremonies, and the sound of the drum" and a unique collab between Just Jamaal and Lena Recollet "What's It All About" that was "released in solidarity with Idle No More--referencing broken treaties, environmental racism, and issuing a call for resistance all over slick production from Hyf the GypsySun".

And, of course, a certain Polaris Prize-nominated Indigenous crew seemed to pop up everywhere we turned and at the very top of everyone's 'Best of' list. But more on that later.

Shout-outs to these stellar releases:

K-otic 1 - "Idle No More Invasion Day Mixtape" PozLyrix - "Chicago Native" Impossible Nothing - "Alchemy" Derek Miller - "Blues, Vol. 1" Tara Williamson - "Lie Low" Rebel Diaz - "Radical Dilemma" The Johnnys - "Rock" Inez Jasper - "Burn Me Down" Kinnie Starr - "Kiss It" Eden Fine day - "Things Get Better" Fawn and Dallas - "Blessings"

The Top 10 Indigenous Albums of 2013


10. Frank Waln - "Born Ready EP"

Ascending to the hip-hop pedestal with a calm, collected confidence and wisdom beyond his years, Lakota MC Frank Waln turned the heads of almost everyone this fall when he dropped the powerhouse video for his NDN rap anthem "AbOriginal". With its massive "when I rise / you rise" hook, overflowing lyrical pride, and his obvious love for his people and nation, Waln brought some much-needed realness and a refreshing dose of youthful warriorism back into the Indigenous hip-hop game. Oh and The 1491s' Dallas Goldtooth directed a video for him. And did we mention that Waln composed, recorded and mixed all the tracks himself? And that he writes honorific rap dedications to his mother and grandmother? Yeah, good luck to the rest of you. Frank Waln is walking the talk. And raising the bar. Listen/download:

9. Cris Derksen - "The Collapse"

A now-ubiquitous fixture on the contemporary Indigenous music scene, Métis musician Cris Derksen's soaring cello melodies and effects-laden staccato bursts, beats and wailing cries, are a haunting, soaring, cinematic soundtrack to our peoples' burgeoning resurgence that give you chills and the increasing sense of possibility that so much is yet to come... Highly recommended. Listen/Download:

8. Kristi Lane Sinclair - "The Sea Alone"

Speaking of Cris Derksen, you can hear her cello stylings on Haida singer Kristi Lane Sinclair's latest grunge-folk album that, as its title invites, carries you across waves of solitude, heartache, reflection, fierceness and vulnerability.  Kristi’s voice ranges from a low growl to a sultry spell (including one of the best musical deliveries of the f-bomb in recent memory) and her style is not for the faint of heart, which is to say there is a frankness, darkness and richness on The Sea Alone that pulls you deeper into her world with each listen. Dive in. Listen/Download:

7. Shining Soul - “Sonic Smash”

Shining Soul burst onto our playlists with their commanding album Sonic Smash just in time to make an appearance on the #NationHood Mixtape with their lead-off single "Get Up". But the whole album goes deep with soulful hip-hop anthems that strike back against oppression wherever they find it and find root in the strength and vitality of their creative expression. Listen/download:

6. Tall Paul - “Birthday Present EP”

The remarkably consistent Anishinaabe MC from the Twin Cities, Tall Paul, keeps up his stellar record of releases with a head-knocking EP of assured, intelligent hip-hop that made its place on the list just for the standout storytelling track, "Taurus the Bull" (ft. $kywalker). The rest of the record rocks too. This is everyday rap responding to the real highs and lows of trying to survive and thrive in the game. And judging by the sounds of it, the struggle is in good hands. Tall Paul's got bars and keeps it moving, one beat at a time. Listen/Download:

5. City Natives - “4 Kingz”

The dynamic mic skills and boom bap-inflected east coast production of rising hip-hop stars City Natives bangs all the way through. Barely a year into their collaboration as a crew, City Natives brings together the multi-talented forces of Beaatz, IllFundz, Gearl, and BnE, like a young Native rap Voltron. Featuring incredible beat production from Juliano, the pass and trade flows of this crew sounds hungry for respect, recognition, and social change in equal parts. If this is just the beginning, there's no limit to where things can go from here. Listen/Download:

4. Leonard Sumner - "Rez Poetry"

Speaking of realness, you just can't get around the raw authenticity of Anishinaabe singer-songwriter Leonard Sumner. Landing right near the top of almost everyone's year-end list, Rez Poetry, offers a clear-eyed personal take on choices and consequences, struggles and love, and the complexities of contemporary Indigenous life—all spun through Sumner's unique brand of Native roots music that is deeply infused with acoustic guitar hymns, hip-hop rhythms and cadences, and just enough country and rhythm & blues to rep the urban, rez, and everywhere-in-between Indians with equal power. Tune in, kick back, and dream of that open, prairie sky. Listen/download:

3. Leanne Simpson - "Islands of Decolonial Love"

Bridging many worlds, storylines, generations, and forms of creativity with effortless poetics and heartbreaking, deceptive simplicity, Leanne Simpson was the only Anishinaabekwe that we know of who dropped a full-volume of published stories and poetry in tandem with a collaboratively composed album of the same, set to the expansive sonics of many of Indian Country's rising stars (including Tara Williamson, Cris Derksen, A Tribe Called Red, and Melody McKiver). Halfway between story, song, and verse, Simpson's poems flow through you like long-forgotten dreams suddenly remembered. Inspiring, strong and swift, these are the currents of sound that surround each island of decolonial love. All that, and it's available digitally and as a beautifully bright orange analog cassette release. So go dig up that tape player from the basement and rewind into Simpson's hypnotic spell. Listen/download:

2. Samantha Crain - "Kid Face"

Choctaw singer Samantha Crain is three albums deep, at twenty-seven years young, and her music already echoes and twists through generations of greatness. With her urgent, accomplished and irresistible craft on its finest display to date, Kid Face offers up Crain's melancholy-infused melodic brand of Americana with a suite of songs that navigate pain, love, loss and growth with an aching resonance of unvarnished truth. Samantha Crain is the real deal. The rest are just pale imitations. Listen/download:

1. A Tribe Called Red - “Nation II Nation”

What other praise can be given to our brothers from ATCR that hasn't already been said? Since dropping their plaintive instrumental "The Road" exactly one year ago today, in honour of Chief Theresa Spence and the Idle No More movement, A Tribe Called Red has continued their stratospheric rise from the booming dancefloors of the electric pow-wow to the forefront of the world's musical consciousness. Seemingly overturning every false colonial conception about being Indian in the 21st century with each kinetic set of party-rocking, this three DJ crew blows the roof off everywhere they go, while always reppin' for the people. With their second full-length album, Nation II Nation, ATCR single-handedly dropped the revolutionary soundtrack that we all knew we needed, while elevating and expanding the possibilities of contemporary Indigenous music culture and pushing their electronic/Indigenous aesthetic hybrid forms to new heights and levels of power. Raise your fist up and get ready. The Tribe stands with us—as we rise together. Listen/Download:

 STREAM: The Best Indigenous Music of 2013

Cris Derksen and Kristi Lane Sinclair on 2-Er


Electro-cellist Cris Derksen and smokey-folky Kristi Lane Sinclair are pairing up for the second year in a row on a Canadian tour - The Red Ride 2-Er.

With a kick-off party that took place in Vancouver last night, half-Cree Cris Derksen and Haida Kristi Lane Sinclair are now on their way to Toronto and back bringing their mix of music and style to Banff, Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg (as part of 8 Days in May, eh!) and Regina.

In a recent interview with Music CBC, the girls talked travel and touring with Kim Wheeler. Like "What is the one thing you cannot live without on the road?"

Cris: Always pack a swimsuit, you never know when you're gonna be in a hot tub or by a lake, and sometimes wearing your undies in said scenarios just doesn't work! Also, swimming is great for stretching those car muscles after sitting for hours and hours. Kristi: Dry shampoo! Most days we would have to spend the whole day in the car and then perform right after. The ability to go from greasy to glam is a pretty awesome option!

Check out the full interview here:

And check out the Red Ride 2-er dates:

May 18 Banff AB. House Show! Tanglewood Cabin,208 Beaver St 7pm $10 May 19 Edmonton AB. The Empress. 9912 – 82 Ave 3pm May 23 Ottawa ON. The Mercury Lounge w/ guest Bear Witness. 56 Byward Market Sq. early show. 7pm-10. $8 May 25 Toronto ON. Red Revue @ The Sister. 1554 Queen St W. 9:30pm May 26 Winnipeg MB. 8 Days of May Eh! Marlborough Hotel Hall. $35 May 28 Regina SK. Artful dodger. Doors 7pm Show 7:30. $15

Event details on Facebook:

8 Days In May. Eh! Urban Gatherings Complete Lineup


The third annual 8 Days In May. Eh! Urban Gatherings festival features a long list of Aboriginal performers taking to various stages next month in Winnipeg. Check out the lineup and enter their contest to win tickets!

The 8 Days In May. Eh! Urban Gatherings festival is a series of music nights in Winnipeg boasting a long list of Aboriginal performers from all over Turtle Island.  Kicking off on Friday, May 4th, this festival will cover 8 days in the month of May and showcase 34 artists in several venues across the city.

Métis music man Dustin Harder (of The Dusty Roads Band), who created and programs the festival said about the various genres in the festival:

"We’ll be mixing it up every night with everything from blues and roots to rock to instrumental to folk and country to heavy metal and hip-hop. So there will definitely be something for everyone."

This year's edition of 8 Days In May. Eh! will feature artists such as: BODM (Bruthers of Different Muthers)Burnt Project 1Don AmeroDrezusDustin Harder and The Dusty Roads Band, Leanne Goose, LorenzoWab KinewCris DerksenGabriel AyalaJason Burnstick, and Kristi Lane Sinclair just to name a handful!

If you happen to be in the Winnipeg area for the month of May, it is highly suggested you head out to one or all of the many events and get a dose of Indigenous music in your ears via the 8 Days In May. Eh! Urban Gatherings.

You can also enter to win tickets! Head to and to find answers to the contest questions, check out

Official festival line up:

Friday, May 4th - Windsor Hotel - capacity 220 Nothing But The Blues Ross Neilsen Band from New Brunswick Neufeld and Kidder from Manitoba Dusty Harder and the Dusty Roads Band from Manitoba

Saturday, May 5th - Windsor Hotel - capacity 220 Singer/Songwriter Night Katie Murphy Band Sonia Eidse Jessee Havey with Damon Mitchell Segweh Don Amero Marcel Desilets (Tweener)

Friday, May 11th -  The Marlborough Hotel (Regal Beagle) - capacity 280 Roots, Hip-hop, Country and Folk Pop Tweener (Nick Sherman(ON) Lorenzo JJ Lavallee Band Little Hawk John J. Cook(SK) Mariachi Ghost – members from S. America

Saturday, May 12th - Le Garage - capacity 100 Fresh, Light, Americana Mid Century Modernaires JD Edwards Band Dustin Harder and The Dusty Roads Band Nick Sherman (ON)

Friday, May 18th - Windsor Hotel - capacity 300 Country and Alt-Country Tweener David St Germain Holly Vee Leanne Goose – Inuvik Alaska Cameron

Saturday, May 19th - Windsor Hotel - capacity 300 Heavy Rock/Metal All Aboriginal Artsists. Brothers Of Different Mothers – Juno Nominee 2012 King Sleeze Split Crooked Fargo, Arizona

Sunday, May 20th - Windsor Hotel - capacity 300 Experimental classical Gypsy Jazz and Hip Hop Gabriel Ayala – US. Tim Butler(Acoustic) Chet Breau Drezus

Friday, May 25th - Pyramid Cabaret - capacity 300 Final Gathering: A taste of 8 Days in May.Eh! Lorenzo, Little Hawk – 8pm Drezus - 8:30pm Segweh - 8:45 Sonia Eidse - 9:30pm Katie Murphy 9:55pm Big Dave McLean Acoustic Duo - 10:15pm Burnt Project 1 C.D Release - 11pm Dustin Harder and Dusty Roads Band With Sherry St. Germain - 12:30am Mariachi Ghost - 1:15

Saturday, May 26th - Venue to be announced Special 9th Day of May.Eh! Host (Ray St. Germain and Wab Kinew) Performances by: Sierra Noble Jason Burnstick David St Germain Dustin Harder and The Dusty Roads Band Wab Kinew, Little Hawk, Lorenzo (Perform "Good Boy") Ray St Germain Tentative (C.R.Avery with Guests)

For more information check out

For tickets, inquiries & info please email

You can subscribe to the events by iCal here by clicking this link:

RPM YouTube Playlist - "Revitalization"


Here's an RPM YouTube playlist to accompany our last podcast that focused on Indigenous language revitalization.

Staying in the theme of our last RPM podcast, we've compiled a playlist of Indigenous videos that are in the realm of language revitalization.

To view this playlist in YouTube click this link: 


Intro Kashtin - Tshinanu (Our People) Radmilla Cody - A Beautiful Dawn Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson - A Call to the Ancestors Robbie Robertson featuring Ulali - Mahk Jchi (Heart Beat Drum Song) Wab Kinew - Anishinabemowin Word of the Day - Ninagam Wab Kinew - Anishinabemowin Word of the Day - Ketenagamonan Wab Kinew - Anishinabemowin Word of the Day - Nagamok! Wab Kinew - Anishinabemowin Word of the Day - Diwe'igan Outro

10 Most Influential Indigenous Albums of 2011


It was a good year for music in Indian Country with new releases coming from every corner of Turtle Island and in every genre you can imagine. LPs, EPs, singles, mixtapes, remixes - we've heard most of it here at RPM and while it's difficult to say what the best albums of the year are, we've tallied up the records we think have been the most influential.

These albums made a splash on the scene, presented a new perspective, reached new heights in production and creativity, or attained a new level of work for the artist.

Check out RPM's 10 Most Influential Indigenous Albums of 2011:

Blue King Brown - Blue King Brown (BKB) BKB ripped through Canada with their first Canadian release (self-titled) this past summer. Their fearless approach to global issues and energetic combination of live urban roots music is sure to have taken many Turtle Island fans. With front woman Natalie Pa’apa’a (Samoa) leading the pack with her pint-size ball of fire attitude, their shows get you moving and their album will hopefully inspire more local Indigenous folks to take their messages to the dance floor. One of our favorite tracks is Come and Check Your Head with lyrics "'Cause this battle’s about to get hotter, I feel it in my heart! AND next time you're waiting for something to change, Instead of just sitting and wasting the day, The struggle it breathes now and calls out your name." Yep.

Label: Indica. Get Blue King Brown on iTunes.

Winnipeg's Most - Goodfellaz The trio of Winnipeg's Most definitely made HUGE leaps and bounds this year with their multiple video releases and the literal clean-up of Aboriginal People's Choice Awards.  Their album Goodfellaz took home 6 awards this year and yielded a handful of quality music videos that all garnered huge hits on YouTube. These guys don't seem to be slowing down at all and are continuing to release more music every month.

Label: Heatbag Records/Rezofficial Music. Get Goodfellaz on iTunes.

Terri-Lynn Williams-DavidsonNew Journeys This album in the Haida language aims to start a new journey for Haida music. Through combining contemporary instrumentation with traditional, Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson establishes a connection to Haida culture that some may not find in a more traditional format. Most of the songs are original compositions, the production of which is beautiful, stirring and meditative. Williams-Davidson's voice is soft and strong and even if you don't understand the words, deeply moving in its delivery. Music is surely one of the best methods of using and preserving language, and in New Journeys - which won Williams-Davidson Best Female Artists of 2011 at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards - Williams-Davdison brings the language not only to the present time but also straight to the heart.

Label: Raven Calling Productions. Get New Journeys on CDBaby.

The Local Onlyz Kings Among Clowns Bringing some funk and hip-hop into the world of Indigneous music, The Local Onlyz hit it off this year with their album King's Among Clowns. Starting with a great video for their song Next To You, their album brought a new breath of energy to the table. Mixing the styles of live instrumented hip-hop with frontman Infored's technically savvy rap style, brought them out to Aboriginal Music Week and also onto our most influential albums list for 2011.

Label: Independent. Hear Kings Among Clowns on SoundCloud.

Vince FontaineSongs for Turtle Island Ojibway musician Vince Fontaine is best known as the founder of and guitarist for rock band Eagle & Hawk who have been successfully making music together for 16 years. 2011 was the year that Fontaine, for the first time, went solo. Songs for Turtle Island has collected a list of well-deserved award nominations and wins, including winning Best Instrumental at the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards and Native American Music Awards and Best Songwriter at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards, in 2011. It's not hard to hear why the praises are being sung - the 8 songs on Songs for Turtle Island are an eclectic but cohesive fusion of contemporary instrumental genres with traditional Native American music, from atmospheric electronic instrumentation to hand drum. The result is unique, captivating and one of this year's best albums.

Label: Rising Sun Productions. Get Songs for Turtle Island on CDBaby.

 1491 Nation Presents: MC RedCloud Though this is a mixtape, this album made major waves in the Indigenous hip-hop scene. MC RedCloud has been touring and collaborating all over Turtle Island for the last decade, bringing his energetic unmatched rap skills to stages in both Canada and the United States sides of the border. 1491 Nation Presents: MC RedCloud brought us back to a time in hip-hop that was all about the beats and rhymes, that was a great gift to the ears of hip-hop listeners this summer. Filled with comedy skits and solid songs in the classic RedCloud style, this is an album that you should get right now if you don't have it already.

Label: Independent. Get 1491 Nation Presents: MC RedCloud on Bandcamp.

Silver Jackson - It's Glimmering Now Following his release of the experimental hip-hop EP Digital Indigenous under the moniker of Indian Nick in April this year, Nicholas Galanin turned to his more acoustic persona Silver Jackson and released It's Glimmering Now in November. That said, in the past Silver Jackson has been a more bluesy, folky side of Galanin but with It's Glimmering Now his sonic pursuits seem to be coming closer together. It's a welcome contribution of experimental and acoustic vibe on a music scene that can be saturated with hip-hop and country, displaying the best of the diversity in Indigenous music culture today. With each listen, you'll hear something you didn't on your last, which is to say it's a grower and an aural landscape to explore. So get in there and look around.

Label: Homeskillet Records. Get It's Glimmering Now on Bandcamp.

Laura Ortman Someday We'll Be Together This summer Laura Ortman released her second solo album Someday We'll Be Together which features her on vocals, violin, piano, electric guitar, Apache violin (a long hollowed out Agave stalk with both the string and the bow hairs made of horse tail hair), Casio, and tree branches. Her classical training combined with her adventurous heart lead us on a magical, spaced out adventure through New York.  Check out our recent RPM spotlight on her.

Label: Lightning Speak. Get Someday We'll Be Together on Bandcamp.

Beaatz Music Is Me let's include a mention that we included him in our 4 to watch in 2012 We cannot say enough about the introduction of Tobique First Nation's Beaatz. He stepped onto the hip-hop scene this year with an undeniable hip-hop sound that makes you say, "This kid is from WHERE?!?!?". His debut album Music Is Me was released earlier this year and has all the makings to be a classic that he decided to release for FREE download. His skilled production and rap ability will always ensure him a place at the table for the years to come.

Label: Independent. Get  Music is Me via MegaUpload.

Phyllis Sinclair - Dreams of the Washerwoman Winner of Best Folk Acoustic Album at this year's Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards, Dreams of the Washerwomanis the third album from swampy Cree singer-songwriter Phyllis Sinclair. With this release, she has honed and deepened her songwriting and performance, the result of which is 10 strong songs, each featuring beautiful melodies and striking imagery. Dedicating the album to single parent families, the true heart of the album is the stories Sinclair shares - drawing from her own experiences of being raised in poverty by a single mother, she speaks to struggle and perseverance with compassion and wisdom. Dreams of the Washerwoman is a benchmark for Sinclair and a work that stands out within the singer-songwriter genre.

Label: Independent. Get Dreams of the Washerwoman on CDBaby.

RPM Podcast #012: "Revitalization"


In Episode 12 of the podcast, RPM looks at the Indigenous language revitalization movement. Half of the world's languages have disappeared in the past 500 years and today another language goes extinct almost every two weeks. Indigenous languages are the ones most at risk - which has inspired Indigenous musicians to take up the struggle to save them.

Our host Ostwelve speaks with three artists who are working on revitalizing their ancestral languages.

Miss Christie Lee of the Musqueam Nation raps in Hun'qumi'num' and shares what her culture means to her and how she sought guidance from her elders on creating music in her language.

Tall Paul, of Point of Contact, raps in Anishnaabemowin.  Tall Paul describes discovering more of his culture through his college language course and using hip-hop to adapt Indigenous languages to new avenues.

Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson, who sings in the language of Haida, hopes listeners can get to a different place, even if they don't understand the words, and she shares how by singing in our Indigenous language we are connecting with our ancestors.

DOWNLOAD: RPM Podcast #012 - "Revitalization" 


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For more on language revitalization, see:

The RPM podcast is produced & engineered by the amazing Paolo Pietropaolo.

Photo illustration created by the talented Joi Arcand.

VIDEO: The Storm - "Gurl23 & Corey Bullpitt"


Here'a new video featuring graphic artists Gurl23 and Corey Bullpitt with music by Impossible Nothing.

Gurl23 and Corey Bullpitt are both established artists in the Vancouver community and are also the resident graffiti artists for the Beat Nation collective. They recently completed a sponsored mural entitled The Storm in Vancouver and a video has been produced featuring music by Impossible Nothing.

DOWNLOAD: Sister Says - "The Only Way"


Haida brother and sister duo Robert and Gillian Thonmson, aka Sister Says, weave a delicious blend  of pop and soul, with Gillian's striking alto vocals at the forefront.This title track from their debut album, has a smooth, dance-able vibe and a hook that you'll find yourself singing after just one listen. Sister Says strikes that artful balance of sound and meaning - they'll grab your attention with fine tuned, well crafted production but keep you coming back for more with their intelligent, thoughtful lyrics and passionate delivery. DOWNLOAD: Sister Says - "The Only Way" 

Q ROCK Talks "Graffiti Mixtape Vol. 2"


Anishinaabe emcee Q Rock has been working with video artist Griz on the Grind to compile a YouTube series of rap videos entitled Graffiti Mixtape Vol.2. RPM asked the duo a few questions about the series.

Pure hip-hop is hard to come by in this climate of commercially saturated pop culture, but every once and awhile, a spirit of the original hip-hop vibration comes through. Q Rock is one of those souls who has stayed true to the form of hip-hop and shares with us, in collaboration with Griz on the Grind, his Indigenous perspective of hip-hop artistry in this video series.

RPM: What's your Indigenous nations?

Q Rock: Ojibway Nipissing First Nations and Haida Nations.

Griz On The Grind: Ojibwe and Huron.

RPM: What crews do you represent?

Q Rock: Dirty Defiant Tribe, Boogie Brats, Ready To Rock, and Mighty Zulu Kings.

Griz On The Grind: I don't rep any crews. I do rep for my Natives, my city (Toronto), and for hip-hop.

RPM: What was the inspiration behind the video mixtape series?

Q Rock: I wanted to make a mixtape that honored what hip-hop means to me. I want to involve all the elements of hip-hop. After I recorded and mixed it, Griz offered to make the video for the Animal Freestyle. The rest is history.

Griz On The Grind: I have a film and project called Griz on the Grind Presents: The Real Native Hip-Hop is Over Here!. We met to film an interview for this project in 2009, after that the rest is history. I've always known Q Rock for his B Boy skills. He gave me a copy of his CD demo after we did our interview for my project. I was hooked right away by his lyrics and flow. I wanted to help get Q Rock's music and message out there because he represents being Native and being from Toronto. I see my Natives repping all across Canada. It was real important for me to have a Native repping from Toronto aka T Dot aka 416 and Q Rock is the one. I told him that I got his back 100% with getting his music out there and we've been good friends from that day on. The Graffiti Mixtape Vol. 2 was ready and we linked up to release our first music video on December 24th, 2010. To this date Q Rock and I have done 6 videos for the Graffiti Mixtape series.

RPM: How has Indigenous culture inspired your music/video creation?

Q Rock: Anishnawbe culture is the foundation of my values, morals and principles. I live traditionally and adapt these ways to the streets. I make hip-hop music, but the spirit of hip-hop is nothing new. It used to be called resistance or the voice of the poor people. The oppressed. I am from a culture that is almost extinct. I am the voice of the Anishnawbe.

Griz On The Grind: Indigenous culture has inspired my video creation because I want to make my Natives proud and inspire the youth. This gives me a chance to learn more about my people and culture. I also want to work and help more Natives to get videos done. Get at me my Natives!

RPM: What are your future plans for music and videos?

Q Rock: Graffiti Mixtape Vol. 3 and then my album will be released in January 2012. Look out for my singles starting in November 2011.

Griz On The Grind: I have directed, filmed and edited 10 music videos this year so far and I am looking to triple that amount next year.

Watch the Graffiti Mixtape Vol. 2 YouTube playlist here: