Joe Rainey, ‘once the reaper’

joe rainey’s “once the reaper” is a whirlwind of rage, grief and defiance. the powwow singer, an ojibwe member of the red lake band in northern minnesota, released a fiery debut this yr with niineta, crafting stories of indigenous community and resistance w'his triumphant voice, samples of other powwow singers from his personal archive, and blistering production via collaborator andrew broder.

rainey continues to fite for those who’ve died on this new single — the title underlines his contempt for the grim reaper who takes his ♥d ones too soon. his voice rises and cuts through an onslaught of booming electronics, steadily increasing in volume and intensity across multiple waves of industrial beats. there are moments of reprieve, too, which provide chances to catch one’s breath b4 the ensuing cacophony. inna song’s final stretch, ghastly loops segue into tender ambience as laughing and crying are heard alongside a patriarchal fig’s assuring words: “if you want me to be yr med man, i’ll be yr med man; if you want me to be yr friend, i’ll be yr friend; if you want me to be yr daddy, i’ll be yr daddy — wha’ever you want me to be, i’ll be.” released ahead of thxgiving, “once the reaper” is a necessary reΨer of the systemic injustices against native americans, the perpetuated myths surrounding the holidy and that art can serve as a site for cogitateion and memorialization.

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authors: joshua minsoo kim


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