The Halluci Nation Turn Anti-Colonialism into a Celebratory Dance Party for 'One More Saturday Night'

BY Tom BeedhamPublished Jul 26, 2021

Formalizing the declaration of A Tribe Called Red's 2016 album We Are the Halluci Nation by adopting it as their new name, the Halluci Nation ride again, speakers and decks set for One More Saturday Night.

The title echoes the group's biweekly Electric Pow Wow events that preceded their efforts to create original music, but it also lends itself to an entire world of associations, plugging into the celebratory all-night, capitalism-escaping energy of dancefloors all around the planet, promising at least one more party. If We Are the Halluci Nation was the boundary-leaping sound of a group uniting a global network of actors and voices, One More Saturday Night is about sustaining those connections — work that can be harder and more important — all while imagining opportunities for future growth and new interventions.

Late Indigenous rights activist and poet John Trudell returns in the record's opening track, "Remember 01," telling of the importance of a voice that can "reach from the ancient to the futuristic while it passes through the present." It's a visionary epigraph and a tone setter for a record that's immediately hazier and lighter than Halluci Nation's weightiness, setting things in motion to booming powwow drums, trickling trap snares, declarative brass and the righteous calls of the Black Bear singers, one of four "Remember" tracks scattered throughout the album that eventually incorporate echoing dub, stuttering STLNDRMS compositions, and the powwow sounds of Chippewa Travellers.

These sepia-toned sequences frame the record as an attempt to breathe new life into a memory or a dream that settler colonialism and its extractive violence have attempted to erase: a time without colonial interference, but also formative instances of anti-colonial revelation. On an album full of galvanizing moments that hold truth to power, they provide centring moments that give clarity and space for the objectives of their affirmations to take root: reclamation of land and resources, collaboration in the place of appropriation, and the preservation of excellence and joy outside of and in opposition to settler-colonial visions.

A third of the 15 tracks that make up One More Saturday Night ("Ba Na Na," "The OG," "Land Back," "Tanokumbia" and a remix of Keith Secola's "NDN Kars") were originally offered as singles while the group were still operating under their previous banner, but their inclusion here feels fundamental to the album's zoned-in mode, anchoring the project to a kind of borderless, historical continuum of ancestral knowledge that resists oppressive revisionism — the group's former name preserved in the track listing, even barked off top-of-track by guest Haviah Mighty

There's no obscuring where the Halluci Nation came from because it's how they got where they are now, shedding light on shared continuities and celebrating the connective rhythms. It makes just as much sense for the group to be in dialogue with a defiant country anthem as it does for them to get down with Haviah Mighty and Odario on a Caribana love-in. Dancehall and reggaeton's influence is woven deep into this album's tapestry, strutting dembow syncopations lending thrust and swagger to standout tracks like "Tanokumbia," "Land Back," and "The OG." Both "NDN Kars" and "Ba Na Na" are the result of a shared class consciousness — an acknowledgment of diaspora and a defiant effort to lessen its distancing.

Where much of dance music is about abandon, One More Saturday Night is necessarily entangled in additional abandonment. The trauma of colonialism is ongoing, so when the 2018 soundbite from former NDP MP and Cree lawmaker Romeo Saganash's parliamentary truth bomb about Justin Trudeau ("Why doesn't the prime minister just say the truth and tell Indigenous peoples that he doesn't give a fuck about their rights?") drops deep into the album on 2019 track "The OG," it feels just as skewering as it is imbued with new resonance, especially after Saganash doubled down on his words in a March 2021 interview with APTN.

The Halluci Nation don't shoulder the responsibility of solving the predicaments of capital-indebted culture. Instead, they task themselves with facilitating collective dreaming, jamming records full with collaborators or connecting multiple generations on a single track (on "Mother Mother," elder dub poet Lillian Allen meets bars from Gitxsan emcee the Northwest Kid and a scorching Afropunk blues meltdown from SATE). The Halluci Nation don't have to offer solutions to the predicaments of colonialism because they already existed for millennia before interference. But what One More Saturday Night does concede is that there's no reason to stop dancing together, and the Halluci Nation will be there to provide the beat.

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