Baker Boy Talks Indigenous Heritage and Current Favorites in Global Beat: Australia Finale
KCRW world beat is a series highlighting emerging artists from around the world. We launched the series with our Australian friends by partnering with The Australian Music Alliance and the Australian Music Radio Broadcast Project (Amrap), a unique Australian organization designed to support Australian music on public radio. KCRW DJ Raul Campos hosts with Amrap manager Andrew Khedoori for the weekly Australian Artist Spotlights.
Go big, or go home, right? In fact, in this case, it’s more like going big for go home. As the inaugural season of KCRW’s Global Beat draws to a close, we decided to draw a perfect circle.
Danzal Baker, aka Baker Boy, was the very first artist we heard on Global Beat: Australia, already a luminary in his own right with Young Australian of the Year and multiple ARIA Award nominations to his name. Since then, the rapper, entertainer and actor star has been on the rise with the release of his acclaimed debut album “Gela” in October.
Baker joins us for a long closing conversation where he talks about his upbringing amidst the “fang infested waters” of Arnhem Land, his love of classic hip-hop and how he perfected his signature sound. – changing his rhymes from English to his native language Yolnu Matha on a penny, prominently using the didgeridoo, and continually seeking more innovative ways to bridge the gap between his Yolŋu traditions and the modern rap style.
True to Global Beat fashion, he also selected three Australian star songs to share with us. Global Beat alumni King Stingray are his literal family. Genesis Owusu isn’t Baker’s actual relative, but he feels close enough to his gender-breaking counterpart to repeatedly call him “the brotha man”. And Baker is also shining the spotlight on fiercely feminist rocker Jaguar Jonze.
Listen to his full conversation with our esteemed hosts and read on for deeper dives into his song choices.
You can check out all the tracks we’ve collected for you so far (plus bonus tracks!) on our Global Beat: Australia playlist.
King Stingray founding members Yirrŋa Yunupiŋu and Roy Kellaway grew up together and their friendship often centered around creating new music. Naturally, these two were destined to form a group.
King Stingray’s mission has been to “seamlessly blend ancient native melodies with surf, indie and funk influences to create a unique sound: Yolŋu surf-rock”. Mission accomplished.
Baker Boy clearly has a lot of feelings for this very special band. “We are all connected. We’re a family, and we have all these similarities in language and culture, so it’s really cool to see something like [King Stingray’s music] happening,” he said.
“[They make me] I feel like I’m not alone in sharing Yolŋu culture, showing culture and all. [What they’re doing] sounds really different from what I do, which is great.”
From gritty beats to synth-infused melodies to swooning soul, Genesis Owusu brings a breathtaking combination of breadth and vitality to the table. When KCRW’s Dan Wilcox wrote about “Smiling With No Teeth” for our top albums of 2021 (so far), he described Genesis Owusu’s anti-gender approach as being in line with David Bowie, Grace Jones and Anderson .Paak.
About the album’s title track, Baker Boy becomes respectful: “It’s a stand against racism, and it’s a celebration of being [an] individual. It’s cool to see Brotha Man doing an amazing job.
It’s fitting that our GBA final ends on a high thanks to fiercely feminist rocker Jaguar Jonze. Host Andrew Khedoori aptly points out that Jonze is one of many brilliant Australian women speaking truth to power within the music industry. We’ve shared so many of these tracks with you over the course of this series: Miiesha, Jen Chloer + Hachiku and Ruby Gill, whose song “You Should Do This for a Living” is a brutally interpreted treatise on “the woes of being a woman”. in the music industry,” which Khedoori says is representative of “a slow-moving event right now.”
Baker Boy also passionately endorsed Jonze and his cohort: “We need people like Jaguar Jonze. Strong, independent female voices to empower more people to express themselves.