For the past couple of months, Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) has been prolific with delivering empowering rhymes on various songs, including his most recent output with “Arcade” featuring Canadian band BADBADNOTGOOD. This around time, Bey has teamed up with Canada’s First Nations electronic trio A Tribe Called Red for the bombastic anthem, “R.E.D.”
The song, which also features Canadian-Iraqi rhymer Narcy and Black Bear, boasts tribal drums and chants from Quebec’s Manawan Atikamekw Nation and whirling synths. On the track, Bey big ups his African heritage and cultural identity and encourages others to embrace their sovereignty.
“Big chief heart rate, big beat B-E-Y / Y’all seen Jackie come clean B.I.G. said it was a dream / Now it’s a living thing / We true living kings I mean it,” he raps.
Meanwhile, Narcy adds his urgent lyrics rapping, “Emergency on planet earth / The currency is murder you are a man of worth / They say the day is coming / Drumming you can reverse / Watch the banner burn before the cannon burst.”
“I think it is the first time in history where you have an African, an Iraqi and the Indigenous of Canada are on one song,” said Narcy about the collaboration. “It’s an important breaking in culture, we are coming together to counter the narratives built around the history of our communities and showing the power of our people combined. It feels like the beginning of something new and old, the rebirth after many injustices.”
“R.E.D.” is from A Tribe Called Red’s upcoming album We Are The Halluci Nation, which is due out on Sept. 16.