Friday, November 17, 2017

Band Review: City Natives

City Natives is a hip-hop group from the New Brunswick/Nova Scotia area.

They were also mentioned in the Tom Barnes article, but the biggest influence on my perception of them was University of Alberta's Indigenous Canada class, which had a module on life off the reservations and in the city. I completed that pretty recently, and seeing the name City Natives immediately went back to that. It makes sense to me that they are from Canada, despite urban-dwelling indigenous people not being a uniquely Canadian thing. That was my context.

The other primary influence on my listening was their song "Hip Hop Heads". Being less into rap myself, when I am reviewing rap groups I often struggle to identify influences and musical currents.

City Natives lays out their journey in the song, starting with NWA, and referencing the East Coast/West Coast conflict, but then transcending it. (Which they should; it's overly reductive of scenes and rappers.) So I found the track helpful in terms of understanding the band better, but also it feels very personal and easy to relate to. That's especially true for the part about the father saying to turn it down, and resistance to turning it down.

Starting with NWA could raise certain negative expectations about the music but I don't think they apply. It's not that the tracks are void of despair, but there are also threads of appreciation of success, love of family, and especially love for their children which provides a link to the future.

Most of my favorite tracks were on 2017's Dream Catchers. "Intro" set the tone and led to more thinking about the material, but the tracks are also pretty solid.

Hip hop fans should check out City Natives, but there is enough musicality to allow some crossover for those that are not devoted rap fans.

No comments: