RPM is proud to bring you an exclusive premiere of The Last Stand Mixtape, Vol. 1—a groundbreaking new compilation of Indigenous music, hip-hop, and spoken word.
If storytelling is the lifeblood of Indigenous creative expression, hip-hop has become its most recognizable and resonant form.
Across Indian Country, Native artists are uniting in common consciousness to effect change in their communities and to take a stand to express what they believe in. And they're rocking mics while doing it.
The Last Stand Mixtape, Vol. 1 brings together a rising generation of Indigenous voices dedicated to using art and music for social change. More than a year in the making, the compilation features a who's who of emerging artists mixing hip-hop, R&B, and spoken word poetics over the mixtape's 22 heartfelt tracks.
From Mic Jordan's impassioned opener "#DearNativeYouth" and Enter Tribal's "Love of My Life", to new joints from Tall Paul, Frank Waln, and Def-I, the mixtape includes Native hip-hop from across Turtle Island, plus soulful R&B jams from the likes of Desirae Harp and Inez Jasper.
But it's the addition of spoken word that sets The Last Stand apart. Poetry courses through the album's veins. It weaves through the beat-based tracks with new pieces from The 1491s' Bobby Wilson, Tanaya Winder, and Rowie Shebala, to the beatbox rhyming of Lyla June Johnson's "Sundance Year Round".
The Last Stand Mixtape represents the best aspects of being Indigenous in the 21st century: it's rooted in culture, pushing the boundaries of what's expected, and building a community ready to stand up to anything.
So, as America gathers around the dinner table to binge on turkey and colonial conquest, today's a good to day to give thanks for something worth celebrating—the survival and artistry of Indigenous youth bringing power back to Native America.
Stream and download: The Last Stand Mixtape, Vol. 1
- Mic Jordan - #DearNativeYouth
- Supaman - Raise Em
- Marlon Footracer - Dear Native Youth
- Enter Tribal - The Love of My Life
- Desirae Harp - Center of the Earth
- Rowie Shebala - Indian Phoenix
- Bobby Wilson - All Rise
- Tall Paul - All Kingz
- Autumn White Eyes - Indigene
- Hannabah Blue - I Don't Want to Be Sick Anymore
- BazilleDx - A Tribute to Pain
- David Rico - The Rez Don't Visit
- Lee Francis - Crack in the Mesa
- Def-I - The Land of En*Frack*Ment
- Tanaya Winder - Ain't No Sunshine
- Inez Jasper - Fallen Soldier
- Reed Bobroff - The Four Elements of Ghost Dance
- Wake Self - Today Was Like
- Lyla June Johnson - Sundance Year Round
- Echo Slim - On the Road
- Frank Waln - Victory Song
- Thomas X - Celebrate
Download The Last Stand Mixtape, Vol. 1 at laststandmixtape.bandcamp.com
Rising Indigenous hip-hop duo Mob Bounce drop their hotly-anticipated new album, Mob Medicine.
Gitxsan MC The Northwest Kid and Cree/Métis MC Heebz the Earthchild have been locked in the studio working on their "grassroots labour of love" for a minute now, but the hype has been building for their debut album to drop.
Well, the wait is over. Mob Medicine is here.
A self-produced effort featuring the two MCs trading conscious bars over decidedly abstract hip-hop beats, Mob Bounce combines west coastal naturalistic imagery and acoustic poetry with more rugged spiritual anthems dedicated to uplifiting the Indigenous community.
From the spoken word melodics of "Land of Giant Dragonflies" to hypnotic healing joints like "New Sage" and the half-sung, eerily melancholic "Starseed", the duo pushes out beyond the limits of masculinist rap bravado and into more intimate and interior territory.
Mid-album cuts like "Walk With Our Sisters", a crackling rhythmic dedication to missing and murdered Indigenous women, and the early single, "Oral Tradition", find Mob Bounce bringing their commitment to culture, family, and community to the forefront, but it's in the album's closing tracks, like the sublime "Sacred Space" featuring Drezus, that their music really finds its spirited groove, infusing the Mob's open-hearted aesthetics with hip-hop's urgency and prophetic poetics.
Don't sleep. This is just the first step on their journey. Get a dose of that good Mob Medicine and like they tell it, #burnsageeveryday.
Stream the album in full below or head to mobbouncemusic.com and grab the free download.
Mob Bounce - Mob Medicine Track List:
1. Cree Dance Clearwater Revival 2. Redfist 3. Culture 4. Animal Spirit Interlude Poem 5. Animal Spirit 6. Land of Giant Dragonflies by Wysper Light 7. Welcome to the Struggle 8. Baldhead with Braids 9. New Sage 10. Starseed Interlude Poem 11. Starseed 12. Redboy 13. Walk With Our Sisters 14. Oral Tradition 15. Brush That Rain 16. Our People Were Sleeping But Now We’re Awake 17. Stay With Me 18. All My Relations 19. Sacred Space (Keep it Real) Ft. Drezus 20. Grandpa’s Journey Song
Stream Mob Bounce's "Mob Medicine"
Destiny drops, Honeysuckle, a hypnotic follow up to her acclaimed debut, Metallic Butterfly.
Blooming with an easy confidence, positivity, and Smart Girl Club feminist swagger, Destiny's Honeysuckle is a taste of all things good in this world.
After catching a couple of sun-soaked previews in the form of the 80s-tinged "Orange Blossom" and the disco-funk of "Soul Train", Honeysuckle finds Taino artist Destiny Fraqueri, aka the former Princess Nokia, luxuriating in her uniquely soulful blend of throwback optimism and hip-hop eclecticism.
Over the album's 12 tracks, Destiny alternately sings, croons, raps, and spins out stories of love and songs of uplift in a time of beautiful struggle.
But it's in the album's latter half that Destiny really comes into her element.
From the downtempo, trip-hop grooves of "Mermaid Girl" and "Cherry Cola", to the acoustic folk of "Wide Brim Hat" and the bluesy pairing of "God Inside of Me" with the righteous, poetic liberation of spoken word album closer, "Brown Girl Blues", Destiny is proof positive that remaining positive in the face of oppression is not just a political necessity—it's a revolutionary act of celebration.
"We can't succumb to the darkness", she says. Time to lean into the light.
STREAM: Destiny's Honeysuckle or download it below.
DOWNLOAD: Destiny's Honeysuckle
— DESTINYFRASQUERI (@princess_nokia) September 21, 2015
09.20 - MoMA PS1 - New York City 09.26 - VIA Music Fest - Pittsburgh, PA 10.11 - Webster Music Hall - New York City 10.30 - Wesleyan University - Connecticut 10.31 - The Barbery - Philadelphia, PA 11.12 - Cooper Union Hall - New York City 11.13 - Chop Suey - Seattle, WA
Shapeshifter and ever-hype emcee Angel Haze is taking no prisoners on her new track, "Babe Ruthless".
Ruthless is the word here. Raw, rugged, renegade rap monster Angel Haze annihilates all competition on the track—transforming into her Machiavellian alter ego and proceeding to kick some of the illest successions of syllables she's ever released.
If this is any indication of where her forthcoming Back to the Woods mixtape (due September 14th) is headed, the rest of the hip-hop world is right to be protecting their necks.
The Tsalagi MC is out for more than just revenge. She wants it all.
You've been warned.
STREAM: Angel Haze - "Babe Ruthless"
The all Indigenous East Coast band Kickin' Krotch may get filed under hard rock, but their latest video highlights a track with a bit of softness.
"Ghost Town" is the third single from the band's eponymous debut LP and its slow, stirring, melody perfectly showcases the warmth and depth of lead singer Michael Bernard's voice. Based in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Kickin' Krotch has been getting its name out across the country and they are currently in the running for Best New Artist in this year's newly renamed Indigenous Music Awards.
I might like sad songs most here at RPM, and this reflective song, set here in the video among tall trees, mossy stones, rich colours, and long shadows with only a few breaks of light, is moving my Thursday morning nicely. Its inescapable to join in on the second and third listen to the long "ghoooooost town" refrain and I suggest you sit back, join in, and take in the setting and sound, too:
Swimming at the surface evil lurking reaching for your soul wants to bury it free me from this nightmare neverending get me the hell out of here I just wanna disappear
Every little drop you bring me down drowning in whiskey smothering ghost town
I want to close my eyes forever stop running in the wrong direction I think I lost my way falling of the righteous path crawling through the rubble screaming wrath
Every little drop you bring me down drowning in whiskey smothering ghost town 2x
She don’t wanna die She don’t wanna cry
City Natives drop their new single and music video for "Beast Mode".
Over a banging Beaatz-produced beat, booming kick, stuttering snares, and jangling piano riff, the rap Voltron crew spit fire for three and a half straight minutes of rockin' rap goodness.
That's it. No frills and gimmicks. No makin' it rain in the club or gratuitous imagery. No fake records, just raw, rugged lyricism. True to form, City Natives bring the heat while standing their ground, reppin' the struggle while flexing their skills.
"Beast Mode" is the second single from their latest album, Voltron, which you can stream in its entirety right here.
If you don't know, now you know.
WATCH: City Natives - "Beast Mode"
City Natives' new album Voltron, is out now and available on iTunes
Briggs' new song, "The Children Came Back", inspires a new generation of Indigenous youth to rise up and celebrate their survival.
Raise up your ancestors. Raise up Indigenous heroes.
That's the first thing that hits you when you watch Briggs' epic new video.
The acclaimed Shepparton-based, Yorta Yorta hip-hop artist brings together a heavy list of collaborators and video guest appearances in this respectful homage to the 1990 Archie Roach anthem "Took The Children Away". But where that song mourned Roach's own experience of being taken away, and lamented the dispossession and removal of Indigenous children that have come to be known as the 'Stolen Generation', Briggs responds with an inspired sequel that—twenty-five years later—champions "black excellence" and the accomplishments of Indigenous Nations across 'Australia'.
A literal generation after Roach's anthemic and sorrowful call to account for historical injustice, Briggs swaggers boldly to the fore of an Indigenous peoples' movement unafraid to celebrate their success.
Featuring a who's who of famous contemporary Indigenous musicians and sports stars, including Lionel Rose, Jimmy Little, Adam Goodes, Cathy Freeman and Patty Mills, the song also makes sure to represent indigeneity in the music as well.
As VICE Australia notes, "With Gurrumul and Dewayne Everettsmith adding vocals, the song features traditional instrumentation including clap sticks, a yidaki from North East Arnhem Land, and a haunting chant from the B2M, a group of musicians from the Tiwi Islands.
The video features Briggs, Everettsmith, Archie Roach, Paul Kelly and 3-year old Samara Muir who recently made national headlines with her distressing experience of racism by kids her own age."
But perhaps the highest tribute comes from Archie Roach himself, who has proudly endorsed Briggs' tribute:
"I love Briggs’ song. It's about our Indigenous heroes," says Roach. "Using a part of my song, where it says 'the children came back' is really what the song is about. I feel proud to be a part of what Briggs hopes to achieve and I really love that he used young children to play the heroes because they are our future heroes."
"The Children Came Back" is a new anticolonial anthem of resurgence and return. As Briggs observes, it's equal parts "history lesson, monologue, celebration and education in one song”.
Released July 3rd to coincide with NAIDOC week in Australia, this is the sound of a generation rising.
Watch Briggs - "The Children Came Back (feat. Gurrumul & Dewayne Everettsmith)"
Sovereign Trax is back with their June playlist of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.
Our cross-continental collab continues with the crew from Sovereign Trax, bringing you the dopest sounds of "nue & old trax...from contemporary and experimental" artists from the lands of occupied 'Australia'.
Last month, SovTrax launched the second issue of their new zine, Sovereign Apocalypse, blending artful contributions into future imaginings of Indigenous sovereignty. Their latest issue, appropriately rocking on an Indigenous Futurism vibe, is themed around "Galactic Imaginings"—and features an interstellar mix of interviews, art, poetry, fashion photography, lyrics, recipes, and more. Equal parts Indigenous intervention and aesthetic subversion, SOVAPOC is bringing new forms to decolonizing self-representations and Aboriginal reimaginings of our collective present and future freedom.
Shout out to co-creators Hannah Donnelly and Gabi Briggs for pushing the #IndigenousMusic and media movement forward. Check this recent review via The Lifted Brow:
The zine was launched last month in Melbourne with an all-star line-up of live performances by Seeka, Birdz, GekkZ, Tahu Dubs and Marze, as the SOVAPOC collective continues to update your essential listening list with the best of contemporary and experimental music by black artists. Blackfulla musicians, artists and writers en masse whether in performance, playlists or publications can evoke a great sense of solidarity and excited strength among blackfullas, but also offer something thrilling and new to a general public. This is what this eye-catching, tactile zine is doing in Melbourne, I think, and perhaps its applicability is because it feels as if it has come from Wiradjuri country, country pre-colonisation (only 230 years ago, I’ll keep saying it, it’s such a short time), and country now urbanised, slick and gritty and flashy – the mix of both these truths finding popularity in the hand-selling and online selling of this publication.
On the musical tip, the latest selections of Sovereign Trax celebrate indigeneity and resistance in multiple forms, featuring new songs from the likes of R.3.B, JPoint, Robbie Miller, and Lady Lash. The talent runs deep and the sounds are an effortless mix of hip-hop, electronica, R&B, reggae, and bluesy-acoustic...all representing Indigenous pride and power.
STREAM: SOVEREIGN TRAX - JUNE MIX
Sovereign Trax: June Playlist - Track List
- E.T.P - Habit’s Die Hard
- Nathan Morrison x Robbie Miller - Oceans
- Golden Features x Thelma Plum - No One
- Coedie Ochre Warrah - GRIIIND
- Marze x Seeka - Lady Lady
- Lady Lash - World Gone Silly ft. Pyne
- Philly - Dreamchaser
- JPoint - Get Wrecked
- Zaacharia Fielding - She is the Light
- Scott Campbell - Tipsy
- Bow and Arrow - Midnight
- Paul Gorrie - Pay the Rent
- Karate Surfing - Shadows
- Eastern Reggae - Grog’s No Good
- Marlene Cummins - Pemulwuy
The 2015 Aboriginal Music Week is shaping up to be quite the celebration.
This year, AMW and the Spence Neighbourhood Association are joining forces once again for the 3rd annual Spence Neighbourhood Block Party.
The free outdoor concert will be held from 4pm-8pm on Wednesday, August 19th at the Magnus Eliason Recreation Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The lineup will feature some true #IndigenousExcellence from across Indian Country including singer Winston Wuttunee, Inuk throat singer Nikki Komaksiutiksak, and country/rock group Joe Maxim Band. In addition, three youth performers will also be announced in the coming weeks.
Here's more on the Spence Block Party performers:
- Winston Wuttunee is a household name in the Canadian music industry who has wowed audiences across North America as well as Europe and Australia as a singer, keynote speaker, and comedian since 1973.
- Nikki Komaksiutiksak is traditional Inuit throat singer from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut who now calls Winnipeg home.
- Joe Maxim Band is an Aboriginal country/rock band with well over 10,000 of performance experience under their belt.
Aboriginal Music Week produces concerts in neighbourhoods throughout the city in an effort to make it easier for families to walk to the venues, but music lovers from outside the neighbourhood are more than welcome to attend.
Spence Neighbourhood Block Party Winston Wuttunee, Nikki Komaksiutiksak, Joe Maxim Band, and special guests Wednesday, August 19, 2015 4PM - 8PM Magnus Eliason Recreation Centre, 430 Langside Street Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada Free Concert | Free BBQ | Free Music Workshops
Aboriginal Music Week 2015 is set for August 18 - 22 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. It will include four community celebrations at the Magnus Eliason Recreation Centre, the Turtle Island Neighbourhood Centre, the Austin Street Festival, and St. John's Park. Four lunch hour concerts, three days of music workshops, two ticketed concerts, two networking dinners, and mentor meetings with three international artists round out the festival programming this year.
For more information visit: aboriginalmusicweek.ca
Winnipeg-based electronic producer, Exquisite Ghost, shares insights into his creative process and the burgeoning Indigenous beat-making scene.
Jordan Thomas, aka Exquisite Ghost, is something of an anomaly in the contemporary Indigenous music community.
Although headlining acts like A Tribe Called Red have claimed a centre stage spotlight at the intersection of electronic dance music and powwow-infused rhythms, more cerebral and esoteric beat excursions by Indigenous producers have received less critical acclaim and attention.
But that's not for a lack of innovation and creative expression.
If anything, Exquisite Ghost's productions offer a more nuanced and exploratory set of aesthetics than many dancefloor-focused DJs can provide. Echoes of J Dilla, Flying Lotus, and Aphex Twin can be heard in his production style, but Thomas is crafting his own uniquely melodic and ethereal take on contemporary beat-making. Through an evolving set of sonic experiments, Exquisite Ghost brings a deft hand and hip-hop-inspired touch to his head-nodding and hypnotic compositions.
Following the 2013 release of his debut album, Shrines, on Salient Sounds, Thomas has been steadily dropping gems on his SoundCloud. Although, by ATCR standards, he's still flying under the radar, Thomas is definitely a producer to watch—one who's changing the game in the process.
We caught up with him to talk music, creative inspiration, collaboration, and upcoming album plans. Stream and download new tracks from Exquisite Ghost below.
Thanks for talking with us. Please introduce yourself and tell us what nation you're from.
I am Jordan Thomas, Exquisite Ghost, from Peguis First Nation, and thank you too.
Where'd you grow up? What's your connection to your home community?
I was raised in Winnipeg, with a large branch of my grandparents and family living in Peguis, which I have visited at times since I was young. My grandparents were taken through residential schools and, as I grew up, they told stories of how they made their way to rise above. My immediate family is working with many First Nations in design and media, building projects.
How did you get started making music?
I think watching my dad firsthand getting his architecture degrees, as I was growing up, the long path to developing forms and conceptions until they are concrete, and to have musical experiences and inner questions about what is salient when these things have to come together—they're are all sort of the beginning of my path to music. I began playing guitar, which was my dad's, and we had a recording studio when I was younger, which was my uncle's. They all played music, my grandfathers on both sides, virtually everyone, my mother too, so it was definitely something that was waiting to happen.
What inspires you to create?
These days after all the hundreds of jams and tracks and ideas and days spent with music, I will be inspired by a feeling or memory, or musician, movie, show, a friend in conversation, a sound of a train outside...it's this idea about how, these days, there's a fluidity of information that we're faced with, organizing these messages constantly, so it's always interesting to arrange music in a very open sort of way. The effects of fusion in music, in a global sense, are becoming very apparent, so a musical conversation between timeless Indigenous cultures is being recognized and engaged with in excitement, fun and playfulness. Not without due respect for the places of origin—in time, in people and places—but it is this way that we learn and discover more about ourselves.
A lot of your music has an otherworldly quality to it. What do you think of Indigenous Futurism? Do you feel like your work fits in that vision?
The idea of Indigenous futurisms feels exciting. As some descriptions mix and blend over time, proto-neo-post-meta-style, fusion, world music mixing with jazz, rock, pop, dub, bass—my country or yours, this land or that land—the qualities of my own vision of the music are intrinsic to a combination of these. That might include connections to other things: like sci-fi, literature, or design in general. A thread I followed through my life, was when my dad was thinking about what Indigenous architecture ought to feel like, or how to describe it, and to demonstrate the connection between the two words.
So the feel of a lot of my work has been created from inversions of mixtures of textures and places I listened to music from— worldwide, from any time, past or present, that I felt was interesting, and from trying to get deep into finding out what it's affecting by listening and playing. It has a futuristic feel for sure. Sometimes I like to imagine what music in clubs or spaceships, or as you walk down the street far into the unrecognizable future, might sound like, and why.
Your first album, Shrines, dropped in 2013. Since then you've been posting some dope new tracks on your SoundCloud. Can we expect a new album soon?
Since Shrines, I have had to deal with a time consuming, unexpected house fire that took up a lot of space and showed me a lot of things. Six months without internet for one. Life has changed. Producing music now, in this state after getting engaged with it fully, finally feels great. And there are plans and themes for an album of Exquisite Ghost music that I've been fine tuning for the past year. I am working on sound and music for a game as well, that is underway, involving Space and Canoes. It's an Indigenous Futurist piece, and I'm learning tons about producing these projects, culturally and creatively.
Who are you collaborating with on your new stuff? Is there an Indigenous beat-making scene emerging that we can keep an eye for?
I am always seeking people to talk with about music, or just about ideas in general. The idea of sampling, contextualizing, is integral to growth, and welcomes surprises, and the music I'm working on now is shaped to be remixed, or to inspire anyone interested in it to reach out and chat. I want to make music for people. That's what truly inspires me. There is always music around to find: the Indigenous Futurisms Mixtape on RPM was incredible, wonderful music, along with the artists listed on the site, the shows of Aboriginal Music Week, the musicians I played to, all have really brought something special to my own music. I'm enjoying exploring.
Listen to new tracks from Exquisite Ghost
Watch Exquisite Ghost, "Evening"
Exquisite Ghost's Shrines is available in digital format and on limited edition vinyl from Salient Sounds.
Could this be the song of the summer?
And oh what a track it is.
Plum's ethereal vocals provide the perfect complement to Golden Features' floating, melodic production. And the ever-intensifying, four-on-the-floor dancefloor destroyer that "No One" becomes is some kind of beat-based hypnosis. By the time the "it's getting higher" refrain arrives, you'll forget how you even got there. And then with that drop? Forget about it. It's over.
Blast this one with the windows rolled down and the midnight summer heat still blazing. Thelma Plum's stellar ascent continues its rapid rise.
STREAM: Golden Features - "No One (feat. Thelma Plum)"
Golden Features' new EP, XXIV, is available to pre-order on iTunes