Ausecuma Beats, Khi’leb and Mo’Ju change the cultural conversation
KCRW World beat is a new series highlighting emerging artists from around the world. We are launching the series with our Australian friends by partnering with Australian Musical Alliance and the Australian Music Radio Broadcast Project (Amrap), a uniquely Australian organization designed to support Australian music on public radio.
KCRW DJ Raul Campos and Amrap Director Andrew Khedoori host weekly spotlights on Australian artists. This week, it’s decidedly rad to offer you three projects that exude authenticity. Find all the artists of the series (plus bonus tracks!) With our Global Beat: Australia Playlist.
Ausecuma Beats is part of the Music in exile label, whose list has been a mainstay on Global beat Australia. It is the label that releases music from artists who have applied for asylum or refugee status in Australia. They do an amazing job that has such an impact on so many communities and the way Australian music is viewed. Ausecuma Beats is made up of nine musicians from Mali, Senegal, Guinea and Cuba.
They all came together in Melbourne to create this band and record music with a sound that revolves around a lot of familiar and funky elements – but that hadn’t been delivered that way before. That way they really sum up a lot what they do and who they are. They pay homage to their homeland and their history while living a new life in a new country. It’s a beautiful thing, and it flies.
Khi’leb from Brisbane is only 19, but he’s as tough as they can get. He already has a serious flow under his belt. Its flow is short, precise and very precise on the strength and passing of the scrum. It’s pretty iconic with a lot of new hip-hop coming out of Australia right now, all delivered with a lot of fire and cleverness. This is an excellent statement of intent from Khi’leb.
“Voices” is his second single of the year, and he’s now signed with a longtime Sydney-based independent label called Elephant Traks. We have to mention them because they have been present at almost every stage of the evolution of hip-hop in Australia. They picked absolute winners along the way, and they’ve also been instrumental in creating a political narrative in hip-hop here, where it didn’t before. They released a lot of socially conscious sounds that got people thinking. It helped people realize that Australian hip-hop isn’t all about partying, which was its starting point until the arrival of Elefant Traks.
Mo’Ju is originally from New South Wales, with both an indigenous Filipino and Australian Wiradjuri heritage. We hear her at a point in her career where she has undergone a somewhat remarkable transformation in her sound. Much of this is due to his exploration of his family history through identity and race politics. She actually started her musical life as Mojo Juju, and she led bands that dealt with a true mix of blues and jazz. But as she took that introspective turn in her own life, her music too, and it was a remarkable change.
She changed her name to Mo’Ju and in 2018 released a song called “Native Tongue”. It struck a chord and sparked a national conversation about race and identity in Australia, that quietly fierce song about the loss of traditional cultures. This song not only did a fiery back-and-forth between right-wing commentators and Mo’Ju herself, but established it as a really strong force in Australian music that so many people admired.
With this rejuvenation, his work has taken great strides forward. Her latest track follows the introspective space she entered years ago, but you can hear it more in her sound now with this introspective new album called “Wave”. She sings here to be on the same road, but on a different page. We’ve all been there before. It’s more of a self-love song than a love song. But there’s also a bigger picture at play here, and that’s what Mo’Ju strives to achieve with her music – knowing where she is in the world and how the world she lives in is. brought her there.