One can only call the musical style of Without Rezervation angry, Native-oriented Hip Hop. It’s on a par with anything out there in this musical style. There are Native overtures but it’s definitely in the black hip hop mode.
Guilty til proven innocent is a strong, in-your-face song guaranteed to reach in and rip out your guts. It talks about the way Natives are treated by the justice system. It reminds me of a Cree friend who once mocked the Canadian justice system: “Native justice—Look at the jails; it’s mostly ‘just-us.'”
The song lets you know that the same is true south of the border. You can hear the anger in the voices of the group. The only problem with this song is that the anger calls for a militant response because the peace hasn’t worked, according to the song.
But then these are three Native Americans come from the mean streets of Oakland. They the struggles of Native people, a “politico-ethnic funk” as they stylize themselves. The three members of Without Rezervation are Kevin Nez from the Dine Nation, Corey Araynaydo from the Tohono-Akimel O’odom people and Chris LaMarr of the Paiute/Pit River Band.
The boys have been listening to Ward Churchill and this shows up in their song Mascot. Mascot is a song that says it is discrimination to turn Native symbols into mascots for sports teams and that it just adds to the racism when you read a newspaper, listen to radio or TV and hear of a Redskin’s massacre (Washington), the Braves scalping, the Chiefs’ wampum, an “Indian slaughter” or the tomahawk chop.
It says that Native peoples are nobody’s mascot. The last stanza says it all… “Ah yeah, this song goes out to the Washington Redskins, yo check, this song goes out to the Kansas City Chiefs, yo check, this song goes out to the Cleveland Indians, the Atlanta Braves, the Chicago Blackhawks, the Florida State Seminoles and all those fools trying to play us out for a mascot. But we let you know right now in 9-4 WOR cannot take this anymore, cuz we nobody’s mascot.”
Very cool album with good music and a message. If you’re into hip hop, rap, etc. then this should be the latest addition to your collection… unless you’re an L-7. Figure it out.
Available from First Nations Music: 3025 Kennedy Rd., Unit 3A, Scarborough, Ontario, MTV 1S3.