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Ziggy Ramo

“None of us are born sexist, none of us are born racist. I think we’re conditioned into that.”

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Matsu

In a world so full of noise, every voice wanting to be heard, meaning and intention can easily be lost. Take equality – equality in relationships, in gender, politics and religions; the understanding of the word, it’s very meaning is so often lost because conversation is polluted by so many things. This is what hip hop artist Ziggy Ramo observes.

In his latest single ‘YKWD (You Know We’re Done)’, equality is given hip hop stylings as he explores, with powerful and thought-provoking dialogue, society’s shift in its perception of relationships and women. “I think we as individuals have a limited capacity to take things on,” Ramo says. “There are a lot of loud noises, a lot of directions and discussion around and at times, there are people spreading negative messages as well.

“With this society, we are conditioned to innately go against our common sense and our true nature. None of us are born sexist, none of us are born racist. I think we’re conditioned into that.”

Ramo speaks of mankind not truly being self-sufficient, instead, thriving and relying on connection – but it’s self-importance that he strongly disagrees with. “It’s ridiculous to think that because of your race or gender you’re born in a higher place than anyone else. If we all ask ourselves honestly, I think we all do believe in equality and that’s to me what it is – that everyone is equal.

“I speak about equality in all forms because I believe any sustainable change has to be holistic, the tools and mechanisms used to normalise racism, sexism and class-divide. Even though it’s loud and I do have limited capacity, I guess I’m trying to simplify it in the sense that it’s the same thing across the board – it’s manifested in different ways and I’m not at all trying to normalise the effect it’s had on different groups but I’m trying to draw attention to say, because I think people use this, and in so many different transgressions, as an excuse to do nothing at all.

“If we can all get an understanding that this is literally bred from the same thing, then we’re beginning to move forward. Unless we understand and can communicate the beginning of it, we can’t implement change.”

Ramo is succinct, philosophical and speaks from a place of education and experience. It’s easy to agree with him that somewhere along the lines, our understanding, our way of communicating with our fellow man about what we feel, see and understand about our society, has been lost – and that’s where Ramo’s musical platform comes in. “I guess a lot of it comes down to my upbringing and that I was lucky enough to have two really wonderful parents in the sense that they always told me and my siblings that what we had to say was important,” he says. “If we said something they asked us why we said it. From a young age, we had a lot of room to have dialogue, which allowed us to build the capacity to be able to communicate.” The importance of Ramo’s voice was more stressed than perhaps most as Ramo grew up in remote Arnhem Land and Perth, of Aboriginal Australian descent. “My dad always said, especially with him growing up indigenous, he didn’t want us to use our fists to communicate, he wanted us to use our words. He talks about the sacrifices each generation makes to give you an opportunity to do something different.

“When my dad was born, he wasn’t classified as human, as a citizen, but he’s done amazing things, and because of what he’s done, I’ve been given opportunities – music as a career. 50 years ago that wouldn’t have been an option.”

Where Ramos’ father wasn’t permitted to have a voice, he has encouraged his son to have one, but be educated in what he says. “Growing up Indigenous in this country I’ve understood firsthand what oppression is. When we moved from our community we were the lighter kids. Then moving to Perth when I was 6, me and my siblings were the only Indigenous kids at our school. There are gender roles where we grew up but it was on an equal playing field – men and women’s business was respected on the same level, no one is is higher than the other, they are both important. That gave me an understanding from early on that there is oppression in all forms.

“My parents, they never wanted to teach us what to learn, they wanted to teach us how to learn, they placed a really big emphasis on the privilege of having an opinion - if we were going to say something, to have an understanding of why we’re saying it, and if that was aligned with fact or not.”

Ziggy Ramo’s latest single 'YKWD' is out now.