Read the original opinion piece by Tim Levinson (Urthboy) here.
I’d like to congratulate Tim for speaking out on this incredibly important issue. Hip-hop belongs to all of us, but its roots are in black, brown and oppressed cultures worldwide and we shouldn’t lose sight of these roots as the genre grows in popularity, economic viability and mainstream ubiquity here in Australia.
As a white kid of mixed European heritage growing up on the south side of Brisbane, it was an Aboriginal kid who first passed me a tape dub of the Menace II Society soundtrack in high school biology class. It was another Aboriginal kid who introduced me to the wonders of Eazy-E and NWA in his dad’s basement. Black people in this country love hip-hop – you only have to tune into a Murri radio station to know that rap (and country!) are huge among our Indigenous cousins.
But, just as the industry shouldn’t be lumping all Indigenous music into some god-forsaken “world music” category, similarly we as (non-Indigenous) hip-hoppers shouldn’t be so rigid in thinking that all Indigenous hip-hop has to fit into a neat little categorisation.
I would point to hip-hop artists currently active in the scene (who just happen to be Indigenous) – guys like Briggs, or Trials from the Funkoars. These guys wear their cultural pride on their sleeves, but they don’t limit themselves to strictly talking about “black” issues. It’s just another aspect of who they are as people, and just another aspect of their music.
Having said that, I would love to one day see a Koori Ice Cube or a Murri 2Pac capture the attention of the Australian mainstream, in the same way that Public Enemy and NWA infiltrated pop culture (and captured the imagination of kids white, black and otherwise) in the late 80s. Indigenous faces are omnipresent in the NRL and AFL; it’s time that Indigenous voices were just as readily heard on our airwaves
Now Tim – can we get a solo from Nay of The Last Kinection? That would definitely be a step in the right direction…
Chris – SMR