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My friends, we’re on the eve of what will arguably be the biggest and best all-Australian hip hop tour of 2014. In a nod to the exceptional work by Melbourne photo-journalist Michelle Grace Hunder, our country’s brightest lights have joined forces to celebrate the launch of her debut book release ‘RISE – A photo-documentary of Hip Hop in Aus’.
Michelle has been a much-loved fixture on the tour circuit and those in the know will tell you she can always be counted on to get that perfect shot. So it’s no surprise that so many artists agreed to “rise” to the occasion. One of the favourites in the line-up will surely be the lyrically gifted and larger than life small-town kid, Briggs.
“I’ve known Michelle pretty much all my life. She was my sister’s best friend in high school,” began the soft-spoken rapper from country Victoria. “I’m looking forward to getting out on the road. I’ve crossed paths with everyone on the bill and we all know each other, but normally I’m very much a lone wolf. Outside of my Golden Era family [record label run by mates the Hilltop Hoods] I generally stick to myself.”
Briggs has never needed to schmooze or hustle to get noticed. With only a couple of EPs under his belt, Briggs began making a name for himself at local gigs, soon catching the eye of (and opening for) interstate touring acts like Adelaide’s Funkoars and WA’s Drapht. However, it was the release of 2010’s The Blacklist that firmly cemented Briggs’ reputation as one to watch. “I’ve had a pretty solid run off it [The Blacklist] for years now and I’ve somehow keep myself relevant. I can’t attribute that to anything but luck.”
Was it luck that won him the award for ‘Best New Talent’ at the NIMAs (National Indigenous Music Awards) recently? I think not, and during the course of our chat Briggs was incredibly forthcoming when asked about the importance of his heritage. “My identity is sure-fast and deeply rooted in everything that I do. I grew up in a proud black family.”
Briggs said his recent performance of ‘The Children Came Back’ on triple j’s Like a Version NAIDOC week special with ARIA-winning Gurrumul Yunupingu was a personal tribute to one of his idols growing up.
“When I was growing up, Archie Roach’s music was such a focal point for the stories of contemporary black Australia. His journey is really inspiring and he opened a lot of doors for black artists. That’s why I did the sequel to that track. I wanted to take his song [‘They Took the Children Away’] and let him know what he means to me.
“What I didn’t expect is the impact it would have and I’ve been humbled by people’s response. Honestly though, that’s the last thing I was thinking about when I was making the track. I was thinking, ‘Oh man, I hope this doesn’t suck!’”
Don’t miss the chance to catch this incredibly unique artist when he rolls into town as part of the Rise Launch Tour 2014. And to make this event even more exciting, it coincides with the release of Briggs’ highly anticipated second album, ShepLife. “It’s a total coincidence that it’s happening at the same time – I have to thank the rap gods for that one!”
When&Where: The Karova, Ballarat – August 28
By Natalie Rogers