KCRW’s Global Beat is a new series highlighting emerging artists from around the world. We’re kicking the series off with our friends in Australia by partnering with The Australian Music Alliance and the Australian Music Radio Airplay Project (Amrap), a uniquely Australian organization designed to support Australian music on public radio.
KCRW DJ Raul Campos hosts along with Amrap Manager Andrew Khedoori for weekly Aussie artist spotlights. This week, it is decidedly rad to bring you three projects that radiate authenticity. Catch up on all the artists from the series (plus bonus tracks!) with our Global Beat: Australia playlist.
Ausecuma Beats are part of the Music In Exile label, whose roster has been a mainstay on Global beat Australia. They're the label that releases music by artists who have sought asylum or refugee status in Australia. They do incredible work that has such an impact on so many communities and on how Australian music is perceived. Ausecuma Beats is made up of nine musicians from Mali, Senegal, Guinea, and Cuba.
They've all congregated in Melbourne to create this band, and record music with a sound that traces around a lot of familiar, funky elements — but not delivered in this way before. In that way, they really sum up a lot about what they do and who they are. They’re paying tribute to their homelands and their histories while living a new life in a new country. It's a beautiful thing, and it just flies.
Khi'leb from Brisbane is just 19 years of age, but is as tough as they come. He's got some serious flow under his belt already. His delivery is short, sharp, and very much to the point about strength and rising above the fray. This is pretty emblematic of a lot of new hip-hop coming out of Australia at the moment, all delivered with a lot of fire and intelligence. This is a great statement of intent from Khi'leb.
“Voices” is his second single of the year, and he's now signed to a long-running, Sydney-based independent label called Elefant Traks. We have to mention them because they've been around almost every step of the way in hip-hop's evolution in Australia. They've picked some absolute winners along the way, and they also have been instrumental in creating a political narrative in hip-hop here, where there wasn't one previously. They've released a lot of socially conscious sounds that have gotten people to think. It’s helped people to realize that Australian hip-hop isn’t all about partying, which was very much its starting point until Elefant Traks came along.
Mo'Ju is originally from New South Wales, with both Filipino and Australian Indigenous Wiradjuri heritage. We're hearing her at a point in her career where she's undergone somewhat of a remarkable transformation in her sound. This is in large part due to her exploration of her family history by way of identity and race politics. She actually started her musical life as Mojo Juju, and she fronted bands that dealt in a real bumping blend of blues and jazz. But as she took that introspective turn in her own life, so did her music, and it was a remarkable change.
She changed her name to Mo’Ju, and in 2018 came out with a song called “Native Tongue.” It struck a massive chord and kick started a national conversation about race and identity in Australia, this quietly fierce song about loss of traditional cultures. This song not only made for some fiery tos and fros between right wing commentators and Mo’Ju herself, but it established her as a really strong force in Australian music that so many people looked up to.
With this rejuvenation has come some great leaps in her work. Her latest material follows up on the introspective space that she entered years back, but you can hear it more in her sound now with this soul searching new album called “Wave.” She sings here of being on the same road, but on a different page. We've all been there before. This is 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 is striving for with her music — knowing where she is in the world, and how the world she lives in has gotten her there.