Tanya Tagaq Covers Nirvana: “Rape Me” and a History of Settler Colonial Violence

Ryan Shuvera

Abstract


In 2016 Tanya Tagaq—an Inuk artist from Cambridge Bay (Iqaluktuutiaq), Nunavut, known for her performances of a style of throat singing—released her fourth studio album, Retribution. Retribution’s final song is a cover of Nirvana’s “Rape Me.” Tagaq’s version speaks to certain realities and violence faced by Indigenous women living in settler colonial North America. She urges that the song be heard in a new way. There are moments of admiration and moments of confrontation in the cover. Yet, it also calls back to Nirvana’s version. Ultimately, this paper examines Tagaq’s performance of “Rape Me” as a way of naming the sexual violence of colonialism and confronting ideas of reconciliation held by the settler state.

Keywords


Cover songs; Settler Colonialism; Sexual Violence; Settler Listening; Tanya Tagaq; Nirvana.

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References


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Discography

A Tribe Called Red/The Halluci Nation—

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Nation II Nation, self-released, Canada.

Suplex, EP, self-Released, Canada.

We Are the Halluci Nation, Radicalized Records, 16 September Canada.

One More Saturday Night, self-released, 30 July, Canada.

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Incesticide, Geffen Records, 15 December, United States of America.

In Utero, Geffen Records, 13 September, United States of America.

With The Lights Out. DGC, 23 November, United States of America.

Pixies —

Come On Pilgrim, 4AD, 28 September, United States of America.

Doolittle, 4AD, 18 April, United States of America.

Tagaq, Tanya —

Sinaa, Six Shooter Records, Canada.

Auk/Blood, Six Shooter Records, Canada.

anuraaqtuq, Les Disques Victo, Canada.

Animism, 27 May, Six Shooter Records, Canada.

Retribution, 21 October, Six Shooter Records, Canada.

Colonizer, single, Six Shooter Records, Canada.

Videography

Nirvana. 2019. Nirvana - Rape Me (Live At The Paramount, Seattle / 1991) [Online video]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/

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