Hip hop duo building cultural change

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INDIGENOUS hip hop duo A.B. Original have cemented their place as the most important and powerful musical voice in Australia this week, culminating with four nominations for the annual National Indigenous Music Awards.

They lead the NIMA nominations, contesting Artist Of The Year alongside Jessica Mauboy, Dan Sultan and Troy Cassar-Daley as well as the Album, Song and Video of the Year awards.

It has been a tumultuous week of triumphs and tragedy for Briggs and Trials, who have provoked political and social debate with their incendiary debut album Reclaim Australia.

Their set at Splendour In The Grass was one of the climactic events of the festival, their activist anthems dedicated to Kalgoorlie teenager Elijah Doughty in protest against the sentence handed down to the driver who ran down the boy on a motorbike.

Briggs, also a respected actor and writer, was also confirmed as part of the comedy dream team working on the new adult animated series from The Simpsons creator Matt Groening.

But their hearts were broken when their friend and collaborator Dr G. Yunupingu died on Tuesday.


media_cameraAdam Briggs and Trials from A.B. Original. Picture: AAP

DR G. YUNUPINGU: World famous blind indigenous singer dies aged 46

While still mourning his death, they bravely honoured their commitment to perform on Thursday at the AIR awards in Adelaide. They also created history at the celebration of independent artists as the first act to win five awards.

Briggs and Trials said it was still too raw to contemplate how they would honour Dr Yunupingu at the NIMA awards on August 12 under the stars of the Darwin Amphitheatre.

Their friend would often ask for a phone to be held up during A.B. Original gigs to hear them performs songs they had done together including The Hunt and The Children Came Back.

“He was a real stickler for hearing himself; he would listen to himself 10,000 times,” Briggs said.

“When we did Like A Version and he said ‘hello’, he made his friend Michael Hohnen play that to him 20,000 times.

“The real point of us going ahead with the AIR awards was he liked to be talked about and liked to be celebrated for what he did.

“And how we do that at the NIMAs, we have to give that special consideration because we will among his countrymen. There is protocol.”


media_cameraDr G. Yunupingu’s death shocked the world. Picture: Skinnyfish

The social media explosion and debate about how we celebrate Australia Day provoked by their single January 26 continues several months after its release.

Thousands rallied behind a campaign for Triple J to move their annual Hottest 100 countdown from its January 26 broadcast.

Trials said they were moved to tears by the deafening reception to the song from the tens of thousands of Splendour fans, proving the groundswell of support for A.B Original’s indigenous activism continues to grow.

“When we started that song, we just stopped, everyone was doing it louder than I had ever heard it in our lives,” Trials said.

“We wrote the song with these people in mind, not so much for them, so their response was such an indication to me there is serious momentum.”

As their music continues its loud and proud mission, the pair were also active in condemning the posting of a blackface music video for the song Squashed N … , featuring the Chris Lilley character S’mouse from his ABC series Angry Boys.


media_cameraA.B Original cemented their place as the most important and powerful musical voice in Australia. Picture: Supplied

Both men were originally furious about the character when it first aired several years ago but were even more disgusted about the timing of the repost in the days after the man who killed Elijah Doughty was sentenced for dangerous driving causing death instead of manslaughter.

Briggs, now as respected as a comedy writer as he is a rapper, said Lilley had ‘never been funny’.

“People have to stop that ‘he’s a larrikin BS, he’s just having a laugh’ and people telling me I never said anything about it six years ago. Yes we did,” Briggs said.

“Believe you me, I know comedy.”

The pair said the strength of the NIMAs have grown quickly as more indigenous artists recording and performing both traditional and contemporary music cross over into the mainstream.


media_cameraA.B Original — Briggs and Trials with debut album Reclaim Australia. Picture: Supplied

“Hearing all the names of the artists nominated, I am sitting here smiling,” Trials said.

“That’s all family, that’s all crew. We have so much respect for those who came before us and are going to follow. It’s a beautiful thing to recognise.”

The 2017 National Indigenous Music Awards nominees

ARTIST OF THE YEAR

A.B. ORIGINAL

DAN SULTAN

JESSICA MAUBOY

TROY CASSAR-DALEY

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

A.B. ORIGINAL — Reclaim Australia

BUSBY MAROU — Postcards From the Shell House

LEAH FLANAGAN — Saudades

TROY CASSAR-DALEY — Things I Carry Around

SONG OF THE YEAR

A.B. ORIGINAL — January 26

EMILY WURRAMARA — Hey Love

LEAH FLANAGAN — Chills

LONELY BOYS — Hunter

TROY CASSAR-DALEY — Things I Carry Around

YIRRMAL — The Bridge

FILM CLIP OF THE YEAR

A.B. ORIGINAL — January 26

DAN SULTAN — Magnetic

LONELY BOYS — Hunter

LORRPU — Lorrpu

NEW TALENT OF THE YEAR

APAKATJAH

ELECTRIC FIELDS

EMILY WURRAMARA

TIA GOSTELOW

COMMUNITY MUSIC CLIP

HALLS CREEK

LOGAN

NGUKURR

NPY LANDS

TRADITIONAL MUSIC AWARD

WANGGA: COMPLETE CD SET

NUMBULWAR RED FLAG DANCERS

Originally published as Hip hop duo building cultural change



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