Watch DJ Shub bring his powerful album War Club to life
The powwow-step pioneer performs his critically acclaimed 2020 album with the help of some friends
DJ Shub's 2020 album, War Club, sees music as a weapon — one that can be used "to tell people what's going on, to put issues on the forefront, to right wrongs, to speak my mind," he said in an interview with CBC Music.
DJ Shub, born Dan General, is a godfather of powwow step or electric powwow; a genre that blends traditional powwow music with dubstep and electronic. Since parting ways with A Tribe Called Red (now the Halluci Nation) in 2014, General has toured across North America, honing the sound of the genre he helped create.
On War Club, however, he veers a bit from the formula. The Mohawk artist from Six Nations incorporated dancehall flavour and Latin rhythms, and collaborated with a slew of artists, including Phoenix Pagliacci, Boogát and Snotty Nose Rez Kids.
"The collaborators, I gave them an idea of what the album was about, and [they] just took it and ran with it. And it really shaped the whole album," General said.
The album tackles settler colonialism and contemplates solidarity between Indigenous sovereignty and Black liberation movements. "This album is really telling a story ... that's when it clicked on us, and we said, 'You know what, we should just make this into a visual because there's a story here that needs to be told and heard.'"
The performance video is set in Longwoods Road Conservation Area in Chatham, Ont., specifically at Ska-Nah-Doht Village. General is joined by some of his collaborators, Indigenous dancers and performers to tell the story of the album.
For General, the title of the album represents a symbolic version of the war clubs his Mohawk ancestors wielded during war times, as a form of protection in the face of adversity.
"MCs, they use the pen and write. That's their war club," he said. "Their microphone is their war club. [It] can be anything that you use to use as a metaphorical weapon against anything ... whatever it is that's holding you down."
In the live visual, a little girl is given a war club that she initially isn't sure what to do with. "She comes to understand why she was given this and what she has to do with it. The war club helps her heal and gives her strength."
Watch DJ Shub's full live set above and on CBC Gem.