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!