17.06.2019

Is Briggs Australia’s bravest political voice?

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Words by Marnie Vinall
Photos by BandAnna Photography

The rapper's recent Melbourne show proved why he's so crucial in the fight for equality.

Plaqued in lights out the front of Melbourne’s Northcote Social Club last Thursday read the words ‘Briggs for PM’. And as the sun went down on the evening, eager followers of the self-proclaimed Senator filtered into the bandroom to see what all this fuss was about.

There’s no denying Briggs has been in local headlines a lot recently. His Weekly segment on the Australian anthem got a lot of praise, stirred up heated discussions and sparked think pieces on what the song means to Aussies today. He then backed up with thoughtful commentary on the oppression and discrimination of Indigenous Australians on Q&A last week. And on Thursday night, at his single launch for new song ‘Life Is Incredible’, Briggs reminded us he’s not just guiding our country towards better inclusivity through commentary in the news, but he’s also doing it through his incredibly talented rap.

Opening the night was proud Pitjantjara/Torres Strait Islander women Miiesha who warmed the room with her R&B, gospel and soul-inspired music. “All my songs are from my upcoming project”, she told the audience before playing her song ‘Self Care’ and declaring, “I love myself and I love my mob”. She gave the audience a taste of a talent we will no doubt be seeing more of – as she left the stage someone from the crowd said, “I have a feeling she might have stolen the show”.

Up next was the equally impressive Swaziland-born and Sydney-raised performer Temgazi who proclaimed all her songs were about “love, heartbreak and everything in between”. The R&B and soul artist appeared no stranger to the stage as she bopped and swayed around, encouraging the audience to move their hips along with her.

Then, fellow rapper for the evening Nooky appeared on stage and addressed the audience with a set of rules about the soon-to-perform Senator. These included “do not look directly at the Senator” and “do not talk directly to the Senator”.

Shortly after gracing the stage, Briggs performed the popular ‘Here’, and appeared to be completely in his element as he conducted the audience to bounce along and move their hands from side-to-side.

The rapper quickly showed off his comedy skills too, telling the audience, “I just want to do some songs for the fuck of it. You’ve all paid so sucked in”.

Briggs made the audience wait for his newly released song, ‘Life Is Incredible’, until later in the night, but kept the crowd thoroughly engaged with a range of songs from his solo work as well as tracks from A.B. Original, which he duos with Trials.

As expected, Briggs didn’t shy away from his stance on political issues surrounding the treatment of Indigenous Australians. “This is the new national anthem”, he declared before playing the 2016 A.B. Original single ‘January 26’ and explained that when he was growing up there was no Indigenous representation in the Australian music world for him to look up to. To this, an audience member called out, “Now we have you Briggs!”.

Briggs kept it local too as he referenced AFL players in one of his songs, telling the audience that often doesn’t work in other states. “Eddie Betts? Who the fuck is Eddie Betts?”. To which he then answered himself, “Only the fucking greatest”.

After explaining, “I live in Coburg now”, which received rapturous applause, the rapper then finished the show with an obligatory encore, playing ‘The Children Came Back’ – a narrative of Indigenous heroism in the wake of white oppression.

Highlight: The bouts of stand up comedy intermittently entwined through the tracks.

Lowlight: That Briggs is in fact not our PM.

Crowd-favourite: ‘Life is Incredible’.