One of best Aussie hip hop artists teams up with a country music icon to create a song about death, racism and activism. Genocide is a term that refers to the systematic erasure of an entire culture. Most often, genocide refers to white Europeans systematically killing black and brown First Nations people in the name of colonization. In Australia, it refers to the bloody history of massacres, in Queensland and Tasmania especially, where hundreds / thousands of Indigenous people were killed. This is a history white Australia is becoming more aware of, but it is still something that needs more exposure.
Briggs and Troy Cassar – Daley are two proud Aboriginal men who use their track Shadows to explain how the genocide of First Nations people in Australia is not a relic of the past, but has lasting impacts that continue to ripple through society today. Briggs is a hip hop activist who has taken this topic on in previous tracks with A.B. Original, such as: 2 Black 2 Strong and January 26. Troy’s recent cover of Aboriginal folk icon Kev Carmody’s track On The Wire brought issues of race and injustice to a wider country audience. So, it is no surprise that the two would work together on such a socially important track.
On a pure musical note, I love both Briggs and Daley, so this is a magical pairing for me. Briggs is hard hitting and unsparing in his social commentary, while Daley’s vocals are emotive and angelic. Therefore, I was very excited to see what they put together in this track. What you get is an uncompromising commentary on the impacts of colonisation on First Nations people with Daley’s vocal grounding the song within the land itself.
Shadows refers to seeing the shadows of black Indigenous people who were killed, but still present in modern society. Briggs raps about how the shadows never leave and how he is the voice of those who died. Daley comes in on the chorus / bridge to sing about how he sees the shadows in the land. The shadows of those killed have become part of the land to remind us that the people responsible were never brought to justice. In this sense, those killed are not only a reminder of Australia’s bloody history, but a deep scar in the land itself. Therefore, confronting this history is not about the “first battles,” but part of a history of racial injustice that plagues the county today. Justice for massacres of the past is not an academic exercise, but necessary for healing in the present.
Too often white people frame these killings as a part of history we need to move past as we focus on the present. However, Briggs and Daley remind us that the past is the present and to neglect the past is an attempt to whitewash killings and death, which minimises current racial injustice. In order to move forward, we need to look back and atone for the past and honour shadows that no longer have a voice.
Listen to Shadows