DOBBY is a rapper, drummer, speaker, and proud member of the Murrawarri Republic of Weilmoringle, NSW. His 'Music for... Pride, Power and Protest' playlist, compiled for the Sydney Opera House ahead of his Digital Stage debut on 10th July, represents essential listening selected from the works of blak artists, a stark musical reminder of our times and a call to arms for change.
This is only a small sample of our abundant blak excellence. If you haven’t heard of these songs and artists, I strongly encourage you to explore the rest of their music and their related artists. I’m so proud of our mob for speaking up, demonstrating blak resilience, blak strength and contributing to that long intergenerational tradition of Pride, Power and Protest.
“Stand strong like the matriarchy / and titta, aim harder than the stars can reach.”
For My Tittas is a heartfelt dedication to Blak women. Barkaa is one of the most powerful truth-telling voices in this country right now. Whether or not you are a fan of Hip Hop is irrelevant at this point. Her story must be heard and included in the wider Australian narrative!
“What you know about Black Deaths in Custody? What do you know about that?”
Unfortunately, this song is still relevant. This song is bigger than Hip Hop. It’s bigger than music. These are actual lives. Since the 1991 Royal Commission into Black Deaths in Custody, there have been 437 (and rising) blak deaths in custody. Not one conviction has been made, despite the fact that in many cases such as the case of David Dungay Jr, these murders were caught on film. The families of these lost lives are forced to feel this trauma again and again as the hearings are adjourned, court cases postponed month after month, year after year. The legal costs are crippling, and when we call for justice, we are lectured and demeaned. They say “Stop copying America.” Where is the justice? Yung Warriors wrote this song for you. So what next?
“January 26 is a day you have your barbies and you all get pissed, but let me tell you how it is for my people / it’s a day that we survived all evil (and still standing strong)”
Kobie Dee is an incredible storyteller. He masterfully combines his skill of rhythm and flow with his lived experience of being a young Aboriginal man in this country. Still Standing is Kobie’s letter to Australia on what it is to constantly fight for his mob and his community. It was released just a week before Invasion Day 2020.
“I can... I will do what I can, I do understand, I believe in my plan, I can… I will stand for what I believe in, because I can, I know I can…”
I grew up listening to the iconic group The Last Kinection and their music still resonates with me heavily! Naomi Wenitong provides us with positive confidence affirmations in the song I Can, featuring the deadly Radical Son. The group are a staple within the Aboriginal Hip Hop community and will forever be recognised as some of the pioneers of early formations of Hip Hop in this country.
“You can’t change the rhythm of my soul… We have survived a white man’s world…”
I had to include this song. It’s a timeless anthem that keeps on giving! We Have Survived is one of those songs that help me to contextualise my existence and place in our society. This is the purpose of our music. There are bops and dance songs, love songs… But it’s songs like these that truly fill me with pride and motivation to keep going.
“The blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice, the darker the skin, the quicker police shoot”
Ziggy Ramo’s Black Thoughts is an unabridged stream of blak consciousness. This brother is so good at turning his thoughts into music. He also recently dropped his album and it is a game changer. Go listen to it!
“Mabo, Martin, Mandela, I wanna be like Mabo, Martin, Mandela, I wanna be like…”
KG and Philly hit hard with this powerful ode to Eddie Mabo, Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela. As black men, they are role models for us. An important song that speaks volumes on our interconnected global bla(c)k struggle. Three leaders from three different corners of the world, fighting for the exact same rights.
“Black Boy, Black Boy, the colour of your skin is your pride and joy…”
Originally by Coloured Stone, Black Boy is yet another timeless anthem for our people. Sister Emily has created a beautiful rendition for all generations to listen to. There is so much power in covering this song… I can still hear Coloured Stone in Emily’s voice, it’s transcendental. Another song of blak pride and resilience.
“The circle of life is never broken / My ancestors of time have spoken”
Freedom is another important song of our time. Mau Power raps of our extensive cultural history and all the knowledge and resilience that comes with it. He emphasises our survival and our strength. Uncle Archie Roach joins him in this sentiment, singing “We have survived, written in our time, carrying our pride, raise your flags high”.
“You took the colour from me, darling I’ll get it back / You took the colour from me, but I look better in blak”
I feel like I might become a sobbing mess every time I listen to this tune. Better in Blak is an anthem! Thelma is an amazing musician and genius storyteller. Her music, and this song in particular, should be heard and recognised as yet another contribution to our wider Australian identity and narrative.
“No justice, and no peace, they won’t charge the police / They both said ‘I Can’t Breathe’, They both said ‘I Can’t Breathe’”
I Can’t Breathe is dedicated to the families of David Dungay Jr and George Floyd, both of whom screamed “I Can’t Breathe” just before they died at the hands of brutal police. David Dungay is but one of over 400 black deaths in police custody since the 1991 Royal Commission into Indigenous Deaths in Custody.
Every song mentioned above, I was listening to in the lead up to this one. This is much, much bigger than Hip Hop. It is a continuation of voicing blak struggle, from generation to generation. It is yet another link in the chain of our narrative, written with Hip Hop, as part of a long postcolonial tradition of Aboriginal engagement with global black transnationalism. It’s my life, it’s Barkaa’s. Written for you. So what next?
Dobby performing at Dance Rites 2019. Image: Jaimi Joy
Honourable Mention: Wondaland Records - HELL YOU TALMBOUT
“Freddie Gray, Say His Name… Aiyana Jones, Say Her Name… Sandra Bland, Say Her Name…”
This track is unfortunately not on Spotify but I strongly encourage you to please listen to this one. It’s bigger than Hip Hop… It’s bigger than music… These are real lives.