For two ambitious Indigenous rappers, the 16-hour drive from Central Australia to Womadelaide is more than worth the chance to bring their culture to the stage.
- Youth music centre giving emerging artists a chance to record live at Womadelaide
- APY Lands hip hop duo to record tracks in their own language
- Established artist Cazeaux O.S.L.O excited by international melting pot
Hip Hop duo Dem Mob rap in their traditional language, an approach they said was partially inspired by the work of Baker Boy, an Indigenous artist who grew up in Arnhem Land.
“I used to like listening to really old songs, like hip hop, and I used to love to dance to it and I thought about rapping to it,” Dem Mob rapper Jontae Lawrie said.
“I tried and it was hard, but that’s rapping, right?
“I was getting used to it and then I was thinking, ‘what about in [traditional] language?’
“And yeah it sounds pretty good because of the flow.”
Fellow rapper Elisha Umuhuri said their region had long been dominated by reggae music but Dem Mob aimed to provide younger generations inspiration for something different.
“We just want to show them that excelling in another genre of music and being different is not something to be scared of,” Umuhuri said.
“It’s something to thrive [on], I reckon.”
Lawrie and Umuhuri are headed for a portable recording studio that will be set up at Womadelaide.
Northern Sound System (NSS), a youth music centre in Elizabeth, is setting up the studio at the world music, art and dance festival this weekend, with youth from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands among its artists to be recorded live.
Another young artist set to perform and record live with NSS in front of an audience is Eli Davis from the Barossa Valley.
“It’s incredible and I’m super excited for it,” he said.
“I’ve been to Womad before and I never thought I’d be able to perform at it in any way, so I am very grateful and excited for this experience.”
An inspirational melting pot
The groups performed at NSS this week, along with Californian rapper, Cazeaux O.S.L.O (now based locally), as part of the ABC Radio Adelaide’s Studio Sessions in the Suburbs.
O.S.L.O and his hip hop duo SO.Crates will be among hundreds of artists performing on one of seven stages at Botanic Park for Womadelaide, which starts Friday night.
He said hip hop around the world was “taking on its own shape and form based on the traditional experiences of people,” and was a testament to the power of music.
O.S.L.O. said he could see himself in the young rappers, but could also see “so much new energy and a perspective that’s so necessary to be in touch with”.
“I think it’s dope that there are spaces like this to give that energy and cultivate it.”
He also said the melting pot of sounds at Womadelaide was likely to spawn some interesting musical developments into the future.
“The kid who’s hearing Ziggy Marley [son of Bob Marley] and then hearing West African and traditional blues, and hearing hip hop — what is he gonna make 10 years from now?” O.S.L.O said.
“That’s what I wanna see.”
The four-day Womadelaide festival starts on Friday, March 6, and finishes on Monday.
Walking Together is taking a look at our nation’s reconciliation journey, where we’ve been and asks the question — where do we go next?
Join us as we listen, learn and share stories from across the country, that unpack the truth telling of our history and embrace the rich culture and language of Australia’s First People.
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