Legendary Cree Singer Buffy Sainte-Marie Wins 2015 Polaris Music Prize for 'Power in the Blood'


For the second year in a row, an Indigenous woman has won the Polaris Prize.

Indigenous icon and legendary Cree singer, Buffy Sainte-Marie, has won the prestigious Polaris Music Prize for best Canadian album of the year for her 21st album, Power in the Blood.

In what continues to be another banner year for the Indigenous music community, Sainte-Marie's Polaris win comes closely on the heels of last year's winner, Tanya Tagaq.

Humble and gracious in her acceptance of the $50,000 award, the 74-year-old singer adds the prize to an iconic career's worth of accolades but, Power in the Blood, marks one of the Polaris' most overtly political nods in the award's history. That is, if you forget the list of over 1,000 names of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women that accompanied Tagaq's stellar performance last year—or the resistance rhythms of 2012 nominees A Tribe Called Red.

As Matt Williams wrote, over at Noisey:

Power In The Blood, besides being a powerful, affecting and triumphant record, is steeped deeply in politics. Those politics are pretty status quo for a group of left-leaning media elite (Power In The Blood rails against corporations and colonialism, speaks up for the environment), and that’s what makes it a safe choice. But it also doesn’t particularly matter. In the 2015 stable of Polaris noms, Buffy Sainte-Marie had the only album that really, truly said something, or spoke up consistently for something bigger than its creator...And that’s a pretty great reason to give someone an award. Sainte-Marie said she planned to split the prize money between charities for animal rights, marginalized people, and indigenous people and the environment.

In 2015, it has become absolutely clear that not only are Indigenous artists at the forefront of contemporary culture, they are also finally receiving much overdue recognition for their continued creativity, vision, and artistry.

Buffy is a living legend in the Indigenous community, but it's taken until her seventh decade on this planet for the Canadian music community to realize the depth and profundity of her singularly iconic creative expression. “Aboriginal music has been good for a very long time,” Buffy said, “but nobody has been listening to it”.

We've known all along. And we're glad everyone is else is catching up.

"Seems like Indigenous women are just totally making waves & taking over the place!", said Métis artist Christi Belcourt. They are. And they should be.

If you haven't heard Power in the Blood, now's your chance to stream it below.

Watch Buffy Sainte-Marie Perform "Power in the Blood" Live at the 2015 Polaris Music Prize Awards

STREAM: Buffy Sainte Marie, Power in the Blood

DOWNLOAD: The Aboriginal Music Week Mixtape by Boogey the Beat


RPM and Aboriginal Music Week are joining forces for an epic closing night party this year. Check our exclusive AMW Mixtape to get a taste of what's to come. 

We enlisted the talent of rising Anishinaabe hip-hop producer and DJ Boogey the Beat to compile sounds from this year's AMW artists and it's the perfect soundtrack for #MixtapeMonday.

Bringing together hip-hop and R&B tracks from all of our closing night party performers including—HellnbackMariame, T-Rhyme, and Tall Paul—as well as the eclectic electronics of Exquisite Ghost, the rap stylings of Mic Jordan, a guest appearance by Lightning Cloud, and some of Boogey's own killer productions, this is a party rocking, beat-based excursion into the contemporary sounds of #IndigenousExcellence.

Let's go!

And don't forget to join us for the Aboriginal Music Week Closing Night Concert on Saturday, August 22nd at The Good Will in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Tickets and info here.



  1. Boogey The Beat - The Beginning
  2. Exquisite Ghost - Bringing Dawn
  3. Exquisite Ghost - Hands To The Sky
  4. Hellnback - B.T.B.B. Ft. Lightning Cloud
  5. Hellnback - Spaceship
  6. Mariame - Electric
  7. Mariame - Native Ft. Supaman
  8. Boogey The Beat - Sidestep
  9. Boogey The Beat - Uja (Tanya Tagaq Remix)
  10. Mic Jordan - It Feels Good
  11. Mic Jordan - Miigwetch (Thank You)
  12. T-Rhyme - Apollo Red
  13. T-Rhyme - Tha Truth
  14. Tall Paul - I Don't Need Glove
  15. Tall Paul - Orange Juice In My Cereal


Aboriginal Music Week Closing Night Concert to Feature Drezus, Mariame, Hellnback, T-Rhyme, and Boogey the Beat


RPM is proud to present an incredible night of Indigenous hip-hop, R&B, and trap music to conclude Aboriginal Music Week 2015.

The closing night of Aboriginal Music Week is the very definition of #IndigenousExcellence.

This year, RPM is partnering with AMW to bring you a concert featuring some of Indian Country's fastest rising hip-hop stars: Drezus, Mariame, Hellnback, T-Rhyme, and Boogey the Beat.

An accomplished young producer with a gift for booming beats and hypnotic melodies, Anishinaabe artist Boogey the Beat will bless us with his trap-infused rhythms. N'we Jinan artist and rising Cree R&B singer, Mariame, will be joining us from Quebec to perform songs from her recently released debut EP, Bloom. And, hailing from Saskatoon by way of Edmonton, self-described femcee T-Rhyme will bring her 'ATCQ to Jean Grae'-influenced hip-hop styles to the stage.

Rounding out this already incredible lineup, acclaimed Samson Cree hip-hop heavyweight and 2015 Indigenous Music Awards nominee, Hellnback, will give shine to tracks from his brand new record, F.O.E. (#FamilyOverEverything).

UPDATE: Tall Paul won't be able to make it, but hot off his recent Warpath Tour, we've got Cree hip-hop artist Drezus coming through to rep for the people and give us a dose of his banging beats and Native Pride-filled lyrics.

This is a closing party without compare and a showcase of what's next in native hip-hop and Indigenous music. You don't want to miss it.

Aboriginal Music Week, an annual celebration of "the fact that Indigenous artists around the world are creating music that crosses almost all musical and physical borders, without regret", runs from August 18-22, 2015 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

With a full lineup of Indigenous music events including the Spence Neighbourhood Block Party, the Turtle Island Block Party, an AMW stage at the Austin Street Festival, and a daytime stage at Picnic in the Park, this year's AWM is going to have something for every listener and music fan.


Saturday, August 22, 2015 The Good Will (625 Portage Ave) Winnipeg, Manitoba 9pm - 2am / Tickets: $10 RSVP on Facebook: here


  • Drezus
  • Mariame
  • Hellnback
  • T-Rhyme
  • Boogey The Beat


For more information visit: aboriginalmusicweek.ca

Aboriginal Music Week Announces Lineup for 2015 Spence Neighbourhood Block Party


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

Aboriginal Pavilion to Host Epic 10-Day Indigenous Music and Arts Festival in Toronto


The 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games in Toronto will get a huge dose of Indigenous culture this summer, during the Aboriginal Pavilion's inaugural arts and music festival.

We heard word about the Aboriginal Pavilion's plans a while ago, but we didn't realize the extent of what they were planning.

The festival is going to be huge.

Coinciding with the 2015 Pan Am & Parapan Games in Toronto, the Aboriginal Pavilion will bring together some of the most dynamic Indigenous artists and musicians from across Turtle Island to perform over the course of ten music-filled days—from July 17-26, 2015.

In addition to the music, the organizers are also planning to feature comedy, visual arts, traditional crafts workshops, artist talks, film screenings and a curated exhibition.

Keep an eye on the Aboriginal Pavilion site for the release of the full schedule, but for now, check out the festival concert listings. All events are free and open to the public. Performances will take place at the Fort York Historic Site's Garrison Common grounds (250 Fort York Blvd, Toronto).

And just look at who's performing. It's going to get hot in Toronto this summer. Be there or be colonized.


  • 1491s
  • A Tribe Called Red
  • Susan Agluklark
  • Gabriel Ayala
  • Mob Bounce
  • Tomson Highway & Patricia Cano
  • Cris Derksen
  • Brendt Thomas Diabo
  • Bitterly Divine
  • Ruben Esguerra
  • Leela Gilday
  • Quetzal Guerrero
  • Dustin Hollings
  • Nigel Irwin
  • Iskwé
  • Iskwew Singers
  • Elisapie Isaac
  • Reyes Poetry & Sacramento Knoxx
  • George Leach
  • LightningCloud
  • Cheri Maracle
  • Jace Martin
  • Melody McKiver
  • Plex & Rellik
  • Ryan McMahon
  • Nadjiwan
  • Sierra Noble
  • Candy Palmater
  • Lido Pimienta
  • Amanda Rheaume
  • Classic Roots
  • Digging Roots
  • Don Ross
  • Crystal Shawanda
  • Nick Sherman
  • Logan Staats
  • Ulali

The Aboriginal Pavilion Indigenous arts and music festival runs July 17-26, 2015. For more information visit www.alppavilion.ca.

Juno Awards 2015: Full List of Nominees for Aboriginal Album of the Year


The full list of #JUNO2015 nominations were announced today leading up to the Juno Awards week celebrations March 9-15, 2015.

The 44th annual JUNO Awards will be held in Hamilton, Ontario and broadcast Sunday, March 15th on CTV.

Among the many great artists nominated are some of our favourite Indigenous musicians, two of which (Tanya Tagaq and Digging Roots) were also featured in our Best Indigenous Music of 2014.

Tagaq's Animism is also nominated for Alternative Album of the Year and her collaborator and co-producer Jesse Zubot is nominated for Producer of the Year.

Here are the nominees for ABORIGINAL ALBUM OF THE YEAR:

The Whole World’s Got the Blues - Crystal Shawanda


For The Light - Digging Roots


Heart of the People - Leela Gilday


Animism - Tanya Tagaq


The (Post) Mistress - Tomson Highway



Check out the full list of Juno 2015 nominations here.

STREAM: Mob Bounce, 'Welcome to the Struggle'


You hear the flames of resistance? Mob Bounce is back. "Welcome to the Struggle", the lead single from their much-anticipated new album, Mob Medicine, announces their righteous return.   

It starts with, and comes back to, the fire. With the crackle of a slow burning urgency, an ominous winding synth growl, and a simple repeated rhythm, hip-hop duo Mob Bounce reappears out of the smoke spitting bars of west coast wisdom.

MCs Heebz the Earthchild and The Northwest Kid take "matter into their own hands", calling out racism, homophobia, sexism and oppressive forces over a brooding reimagining of hip-hop mixed with a powerful Indigenous spirit. This is rap with clarity, vision and purpose: "change in the world is on [their] microphone checklist".

Having dropped a subterranean, a capella album promo last week (which you can watch below), the Mob switches it up and critiques the errors of human ways by calling forth the sacredness in art and life. That's Mob Medicine. Real world struggle music.

The new album drops in 2015. Until then, we'll be waiting and watching "for the sun / when the eagles cry out".

STREAM: Mob Bounce - "Welcome to the Struggle" 

Watch Mob Bounce's Mob Medicine Promo

For more on Mob Bounce check their Facebook and Twitter

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 compelling...er...taste 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 Mic.com'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!

RPM's Best Indigenous Music of 2014


The Indigenous Music Renaissance is here to stay and Native artists are leading the way. Here are our picks for the best Indigenous music of 2014.

In another incredible year for Indigenous art and creativity, Native artists continued to break down walls, claim new spaces and make their presence felt...everywhere. As a renewed wave of uprisings for freedom and justice swept the globe, Indigenous musicians played a central role in soundtracking the struggle and making rebel music for the movement.

From the rez to the streets, from pipeline protests to massive music festivals, Native music made an indelible intervention into the cultural and political landscape of 2014.

The RPM extended fam weighed in with their picks and favourite sounds of the year. Some songs and sounds that found their way into our headphones and hearts included:

Iskwé's “Will I See” Sister Says' Heart Placement Kait Angus' "The Mason's Heart" Moe Clark's Within Sean Conway's The Blue Acre Logan Staats' "What You Love" Kinnie Starr's "Save Our Waters" Tall Paul's "I Don't Need Glove" Quese IMC's "The Comanche" Sacramento Knoxx's "The Trees Will Grow Again" Frank Waln, Naát'áaníí MeansMike Cliff & Inez Jasper's "The Revolution" Boogey the Beat's "DJ Set for MMIW" A Tribe Called Red's "Burn Your Village to the Ground"

And that's not even counting our Top 10 Albums of the year. Let's go.

The Best Indigenous Music of 2014: Impossible Nothing Remixtape

This year we're excited to present not only some of our favourite songs, mixes, EPs and albums by Indigenous artists, but also a very special Best of 2014 REMIXTAPE assembled by the prolific beatsmith Impossible Nothing of the Skookum Sound System crew. We compiled our selections and IMPLNTHG fed the sounds through his rapid-fire maximalist machine. The results are an incredible blast of rhythmic sample chops and skillful sonic wizardry.

Grab the remixtape below and head to Impossible Nothing's Bandcamp for the individual remixed tracks.

Download: The Best Indigenous Music of 2014 - Impossible Nothing REMIXTAPE


RPM's 10 Best Indigenous Albums of 2014

Stream our Best of 2014 Playlist

10. City Natives - Red City

Red City

Claiming their rightful spot in our Top 10 for the second year in a row, City Natives returned this year with their sophomore album, Red City, a confident declaration of the group's equal skills on the mic and behind the boards. From front to back, what elevated Red City from many other Native hip-hop releases this year was consistency. On a record with no weak links, Red City's tightly woven ten tracks of heartfelt boom bap beats showcase Beaatz, IllFundz, Gearl and BnE proving to the world why they're a force to be reckoned with. Game elevated. Now who's next?

9. Digging Roots - For the Light 

For The Light

After four years of heavy touring and much anticipation from their fans the world over, husband and wife lead Digging Roots released the For the Light, this summer.  Life on the road and innate wanderlust inhabits the sonic kaleidoscope of roots and blues infused songs that travel, lyrically, from inner cities to back roads and everything in between. Raven Kanatakta and ShoShona Kish wrote and produced the collection of 12 love songs - and while the stories touch on desperation, resiliance, troublemakers, lovers and freedom fighters, Kish will emphasize they each stem from love - that pulsate with passion and focus. The title track, sung in Anishinabemowin and English, chants "push, push, reach, reach" with bluesy intensity, exemplary of why Kish's smokey wailing vocals and Kantakta's bombastic guitar pushed For the Light into our top 10.

8. V/A - The Invasion Day Mixtape 2014


Kickstarting the year with a blast of hip-hop firepower, The Invasion Day Mixtape contests the colonial occupation of "Australia" with lyrical finesse, banging beats and a rockstar list of Indigenous hip-hop artists. With standout tracks from La Teila, MC Triks and bAbe SUN, and Provocalz, this compilation boldly declares its ancestral connections while giving urgent voice to blackfellas' resistance. Why celebrate the settler invasion when we could be celebrating ourselves? Shout out to Brisbane Blacks, it's time to "raise ya fist for revolution!".

7. Angel Haze - Dirty Gold 


Bold, defiant and with a straight up give no fucks attitude, Angel Haze took her album into her own hands and surreptitiously leaked it free to the world in the last days of 2013. Mired in a fight with her major label Island/Republic, Haze pushed the album directly into the spotlight of public attention and the label scrambled to move up its release date. On the eve of 2014, as the new year swirled into motion, Dirty Gold got its "official release"—and Angel Haze's rapid-fire lyrical acrobatics paired with A Tribe Called Red's beats, and her acoustic reworkings of crossover pop anthems like "Battle Cry", have been stuck in our heads and on rotation all year long. Angel Haze is a confident lyricist, a dope MC, and a compelling singer who seems most in her element when spitting pure fire over rap anthems, but she could easily direct her talent wherever she damn well chooses. We can't wait to see where she's going next.

6. Blue King Brown - Born Free


The first time we heard Born Free we knew it was a contender for album of the year. Displaying an assuredness and power in both songwriting and production, the album expands and deepens Blue King Brown's foundation in roots and reggae music while giving more shine to lead singer Nattali Rize's hypnotic vocals. Every track on this record is filled with equal parts fire and love. BKB is on the move and headed for big things in the days to come. This is music for the movement, for life, for the people. Songs to uplift and inspire us to keep seeking freedom in the midst of our chaotic world. Calling all nations to RIZE UP.

5. V/A - Native North America (Vol. 1): Aboriginal Folk, Rock, and Country 1966–1985


Much good ink has been spilled about Native North America in recent weeks (when was the last time Native music was reviewed simultaneously in the Guardian, Pitchfork and Rolling Stone?), and we're encouraged to know that many others, like us, are discovering—or in some cases re-discovering—this legendary generation of Indigenous musicians. NNA Vol. 1 highlights the incredible work of underrepresented artists from across Canada and up to Alaska, whose music both inspired and provided the foundation for what many Native artists are doing today. More than 12 years in the making, Kevin "DJ Sipreano" Howes, has compiled an awe-inspiring array of Indigenous music that, over its 34 tracks, is at once groundbreaking, revolutionary, and wonderfully familiar. We can hear ourselves in these sounds and, in looking and listening back, we can draw strength from those artists that have gone before us: artists whose time has finally come to be heard. And this is just Volume 1. Brilliant.

4. Princess Nokia - Metallic Butterfly


What is it about this record? Is it the quirky Game of Thrones-inspired D&B breakbeat ballads? The anime-flavoured, retro-futurist cyber-rap bounce? The Northern Cree-sampling, Björk-like swirl and swoon of haunted electronics? Somewhere in the flow and flux of Princess Nokia's exquisitely defined 90s sci-fi bricolage aesthetics, Metallic Butterfly takes flight into an uncharted space-time reality suffused with effortless eclecticism. One of the most innovative and inspiring albums of the year. The recombinant future has arrived.

3. Silver Jackson - Starry Skies Opened Eyes 


Meanwhile, in the outer reaches of the multiverse, Silver Jackson lights up the Sitka coordinates of the Black Constellation with a beautiful album of delicate sonics and folk-art electronic experiments. Expanding the future-now to its natural state of awakened presence, Starry Skies Opened Eyes does exactly what it sets out to do: it wraps you up in haunting melodies and carries you out to sea, drifting and reflecting a journey toward the morning horizon. By the time you arrive, you want to return immediately and dive deep into the sky all over again. That's what we did. Over and over and over again.

2. Tanya Tagaq - Animism


After, and almost in spite of, the deserving accolades this album has already received, it's still hard to find words that do Animism justice. Tanya Tagaq's latest album is a pulse-pounding, haunting record of her incredible power to call forth an often dormant spirit of potent creativity from herself and from her audience. It is this restless mix of sonic fury and impassioned expression that puts Tagaq in a nearly singular category among her Indigenous art and music contemporaries. Animism, the album, is in some ways, incidental to her larger project—that of unleashing her creative spirit to the world in every available form. The album is incredible and devastatingly primal, but that's a given. What is unique about Tagaq's music, from her riveting live shows (including an absolutely spellbinding performance at this year's Polaris Music Awards, which she won) to every recorded soundwave captured by Animism, is Tagaq's transcendent capacity to demand that we, as listeners, become co-creators of her music. This is her gift to us, both an exhilarating and, at times, exhausting, call to creative action. Unbowed and undaunted by haters, naysayers, or the otherwise perplexed, Tanya Tagaq keeps expanding her artistic universe and power, orbiting around us, radiating light and sound. A force of nature indeed.

1. Thelma Plum - Monsters (EP) 


All it took was four songs to put Thelma Plum at the top of our list. Four songs. Where other artists on this year's list explored decidedly otherworldly realms and sonic terrain, Plum's Monsters EP arrived fully formed, locked into a precise space of dark pop perfection. From the first notes of "Monsters" through the aching "Young in Love" and the anthemic "How Much Does Your Love Cost?" to the final haunting bars of "Candle", Plum does more in the brief span of this EP than many artists do in entire albums. There are no misplaced notes here. Every song is wound tight, expertly produced, beautifully sung and absolutely mesmerizing. Monsters is poised to send Thelma Plum's career into the stratosphere. All this before she's even released her debut album. That's coming next year. Did we mention she's 19? Exactly.


Also check out our 15 Best Indigenous Music Videos of 2014  and The Most Slept-On Indigenous Album of 2014

--- Chi Miigwetch to Tara Williamson, Leanne Simpson, Susan Blight, and Melody McKiver for their expertise & impeccable selections. Image credit: Sonny Assu, "Home Coming" (2014). Digital intervention on Paul Kane painting. More info at: sonnyassu.com


The Indigenous Music Takeover in Toronto This Weekend


Both Tanya Tagaq and A Tribe Called Red have sold out concerts in Toronto this week. Tagaq is set to perform for 350+ people at The Great Hall on November 6 and Tribe is taking over the Danforth Music Hall on November 7 (a 1,400 capacity room).

This coincidence is really exciting because it demonstrates that there is a significant market for uniquely Indigenous music in one of Canada's most competitive scenes.

Unfortunately it doesn't mean that every Indigenous artist will experience the same kind of success in the upcoming months or years. Tagaq and Tribe are exceptional and just like Jay-Z or Bill Gates they had exactly what the world was looking for at a time when it was ready to look.

The lessons that I think Indigenous artists should take away from the successes of Tagaq and Tribe include:

  • Good music matters the most
  • Good management matters the second most
  • Media attention follows intelligent artists
  • Performances at mainstream music festivals help artists build markets
  • Aboriginal music festivals and music award shows are only stepping stones
  • Being nice is super important

Tagaq's November 6 show kicks off a seven stop tour in November, which is set to pick up again with six dates at performing arts centres throughout the US after the holidays. Tribe's November 7 show is one of three that the boys have planned for November because they spent most of the summer months hitting the festival circuit pretty hard and need a little break from the airports and take out food of tour life.

Visit tanyatagaq.com for more information about Tagaq and sixshooterrecords.com for more information about her management.

Visit atribecalledred.com for more information about Tribe and craft-services.com for more information about their management.



-- Alan Greyeyes is a member of the Peguis First Nation in Manitoba and has been working full time in the music industry since 2005. In 2013, Greyeyes was honoured with the Future Leaders of Manitoba award for his contributions to the arts. Greyeyes graduated from Trent University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Economics and was featured on the cover of the Spring 2013 edition of the university's alumni magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @alangreyeyes

6 Arrows Media Launches #6AMSessions with Live-Streamed Concert from Six Nations


Indigenous media is on the rise in NDN Country and 6 Arrows Media is the latest out of the gate. Their new music series, the #6AMSessions, launched on November 1st with a live concert straight outta Six Nations.

UPDATE: If you missed the November 1st broadcast, watch the complete 6am Sessions show now on 6ArrowsMedia.com

6 Arrows Media is the new joint venture from acclaimed Indigenous musicians Derek Miller and Marty Ballentyne, who have joined forces with multimedia production house Thru the RedDoor to launch a "multimedia production hub" for NDN Country and beyond.

For Miller and Ballentyne, 6 Arrows is all about representing ourselves, supporting each other and building community:

“We’re eager to share what we’ve been working on. 6AM will be able to take those artists who live next door and give them every tool they need to be successful. We have the technology, we have the industry experience, and we have the vision. It is our hope that this company is there to give artists the boost that people like Marty and I didn’t have when we began. For us, this is a way of giving back."

Helped out by a few fun promo clips by the likes of their friends Adam Beach, Leonard Sumner, Missy Knott, and a Chllly Chase eating a worm (!), 6 Arrows launched their first online experiment on November 1st, the #6AMSessions, a free concert featuring incredible Indigenous artists performing at their Ohseweken studio on Six Nations—and livestreamed through 6arrowsmedia.com.

The concert was hosted by Derek Miller and featured a powerhouse lineup of (admittedly Haudenosaunee-centric) performers, including: Brendt Diabo, Logan Staats (of Ghost Town Orchestra), Ras Haile X, Chllly Chase, Cheri Maracle, Rebecca Miller, Behold the Shadows, Jeff Doreen, The Ollivanders, the 6AM Jazz Band and, of course, Derek Miller and his band The Lindas. Pretty damn impressive for the first show of the series.

Derek Miller and the Lindas

Rocking his trademark Reservoir Dogs attire, Miller kept the proceedings flowing by introducing each artist, chatting with them in between sets, and generally lending the show a casual, yet intimate feel. The sound quality was tight, the vibe was right, and the performances were killer.

A live studio audience enjoyed the show up close and personal but, for the rest of us, the livestream was a great way for viewers from around the world to catch the show, and the #6amsessions hashtag was a fun way to chat while the concert was beamed to our devices, phones and living rooms.

Livestreaming music is nothing new on the interwebs, but it doesn't happen nearly enough in Indian Country. Saturday's show was the perfect post-Halloween antidote to the saccharine aftertaste of total sugar overload from the night before. And a welcome addition to the growing Indigenous music and media landscape.

6 Arrows is clearly on to a good thing here. We're excited to see where it goes next. And Like Derek Miller said:

Although all of the artists rocked it on Saturday, for us, Logan Staats was the highlight of the night. His raw and impassioned vocal delivery and prodigious songrwriting talent stole the show.

Check out his performance of "What You Love" from the 6 Arrows promo video below. This guy is going places.

For more info and to watch an archive of the broadcast, visit: 6arrowsmedia.com  

STREAM: Native North America, Revolutionary Recordings by Indigenous Artists from 1966-1985


Light in the Attic Records is preparing to release the "most ambitious and historically significant project" in the label's history: Native North America—a 34-track compilation of music from the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island, recorded between 1966 and 1985.

Native North America is a project that has been more than a decade in the making.

DJ and record collector Kevin "Sipreano" Howes spent 12 years researching, compiling music, travelling, and interviewing Indigenous artists for inclusion on the album, and the results are righteous, revolutionary and historically unprecedented.

Native North America (Vol. 1) features music from the Indigenous peoples of Canada and the northern United States, recorded in the turbulent decades between 1966 to 1985. It represents the fusion of shifting global popular culture and a reawakening of Aboriginal spirituality and expression...You’ll hear Arctic garage rock from the Nunavik region of northern Quebec, melancholy Yup’ik folk from Alaska, and hushed country blues from the Wagmatcook First Nation reserve in Nova Scotia. You’ll hear echoes of Neil Young, Velvet Underground, Leonard Cohen, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Johnny Cash, and more among the songs, but injected with Native consciousness, storytelling, poetry, history, and ceremony.

Indigenous music, like Indigenous Peoples more generally, occupies both a historical and present blind spot in settler society's consciousness.

But far from being mythic, imaginary figures of some forgotten colonial past, Native North America (Vol. 1): Aboriginal Folk, Rock, and Country 1966–1985 documents the deep currents of creativity that have been continuously at work throughout Turtle Island and the wide-ranging influences and styles of Indigenous musicians.

Notably, many of these songs haven't been heard outside of local communities since they were first recorded. Howes explains:

“All 34 songs blow my mind in one way or another. They were often made for folks in their regional communities, but like musicians the world over, most were hoping that their songs would be able to reach as many people as possible. [But] much of this music wasn’t heard outside of the greater Aboriginal music community at the time of release…[although] this music was very much embraced on the reserves and in regional communities across the country, as well as gaining some traction in coffeehouses, dance halls, and the folk festival circuit.”

The album reflects a diverse musical and cultural geography: gathering music from Indigenous Peoples across Canada, north to Alaska, and covering everything from folk and psychedelia, to country soul and garage rock.

"When I first heard the original recordings featured on NNA V1"Howes explained to The Stranger, "I had to learn more about these records, how they were made and by who. These artists should take their righteous place in our collective cultural history."

Indigenous musicians, who are rarely recognized (let alone celebrated) for their artistry and collective contribution to the evolution of recorded music, deserve to take up this rightful place—and Native North America captures the continued currents of Indigenous "consciousness, storytelling, poetry, history, and ceremony" that have been encoded in song.

This music is as much about our collective past as it is our collective present: and, to paraphrase Vine Deloria, we need to hear where we have been before we see where we should go, we need to know how to get there, and we need to have a good soundtrack for our journey.


Native North America (Vol. 1): Aboriginal Folk, Rock, and Country 1966–1985 — FULL TRACK LIST:

1. Willie Dunn – "I Pity the Country" 2. John Angaiak – "I'll Rock You to the Rhythm of the Ocean" 3. Sugluk – "Fall Away" 4. Sikumiut – "Sikumiut" 5. Willie Thrasher – "Spirit Child" 6. Willy Mitchell – "Call of the Moose" 7. Lloyd Cheechoo – "James Bay" 8. Alexis Utatnaq – "Maqaivvigivalauqtavut" 9. Brian Davey – "Dreams of Ways" 10. Morley Loon – "N'Doheeno" 11. Peter Frank – "Little Feather" 12. Ernest Monias – "Tormented Soul" 13. Eric Landry – "Out of the Blue" 14. David Campbell – "Sky-Man and the Moon" 15. Willie Dunn – "Son of the Sun" 16. Shingoose (poetry by Duke Redbird) – "Silver River" 17. Willy Mitchell and Desert River Band – "Kill'n Your Mind" 18. Philippe McKenzie – "Mistashipu" 19. Willie Thrasher – "Old Man Carver" 20. Lloyd Cheechoo – "Winds of Change" 21. The Chieftones (Canada’s All Indian Band) – "I Shouldn't Have Did What I Done" 22. Sugluk – "I Didn't Know" 23. Lawrence Martin – "I Got My Music" 24. Gordon Dick – "Siwash Rock" 25. Willy Mitchell and Desert River Band – "Birchbark Letter" 26. William Tagoona – "Anaanaga" 27. Leland Bell – "Messenger" 28. Saddle Lake Drifting Cowboys – "Modern Rock" 29. Willie Thrasher – "We Got to Take You Higher" 30. Sikumiut – "Utirumavunga" 31. Sugluk – "Ajuinnarasuarsunga" 32. John Angaiak – "Hey, Hey, Hey, Brother" 33. Groupe Folklorique Montagnais – "Tshekuan Mak Tshetutamak" 34. Willie Dunn (featuring Jerry Saddleback) – "Peruvian Dream (Part 2)"


Native North America is currently available for pre-order and will be released November 25, 2014.