From a young age, Gumbaynggirr man, Tasman Keith has been compelled to continue the great traditions of his people by telling stories through music. As the son of Aboriginal hip-hop pioneer, Wire MC; Tasman brings forward the next generation of delivering a powerful message through a unique sound of hip-hop, R&B and ‘new-wave’ funk.
His new single ‘My Pelopolees’ steps up to the plate and heralds the arrival of a real contender, an uncompromising track both lyrically and musically.
“In its most raw form, ‘My Pelopolees’ is an ode to my grandfather, William Jarrett (better known as Billy Jack) and my uncle Mark Ballangarry, who was better known as Uncle Spits,” said Tasman. “Uncle Spits originally coined the term ‘Pelopolees’ (meaning people) long before the early 2000s but it wasn’t until then that my Grandfather pulled inspiration from the word and recorded a song, which told Uncle Spits’ story. Sadly, Uncle Spits passed away in 2016 and in 2017, I began to write my version of the song, now titling it ‘My Pelopolees’.
“The song itself speaks on personal triumph, overcoming odds that Aboriginal people face in today’s society. It also holds reference to ‘our spirit living on after we’ve died’ – which is the exact inspiration that I held from Uncle Spits’ passing and many relatives before him. Although the word itself is dope, it really hooks you in for an amazing chorus but it also gave me a chance to introduce Bowraville slang whilst speaking for my people and conquering these ideas that society places on us.”
2017 marked a major milestone for Tasman; bursting on the independent hip-hop scene with his debut studio single ‘Might Snap’ which followed multiple underground mixtape releases since 2014. ‘Might Snap’ went into rotation across several community radio platforms including FBi Radio and received critical acclaim on triple j Unearthed. Shortly after, Tasman teamed up with ARIA nominated producer James Mangohig and Bad Apples Music’s Nooky to begin the process of compiling his debut studio EP.
Tasman has since shared the stage with renowned artists such as A. B. Original, Briggs, Birdz and Caiti Baker and performed at the Blue Mountain Music Festival and the Bad Apples Music House Party. Tasman had also collaborated with renown writer, poet, and rapper Omar Musa for the lead single ‘Assimilate’ on his album, ‘Since Ali Died’.
Tasman echoes the powerful message he presents in his music, using his platform to be a powerful voice for social justice and Indigenous issues. He was invited by lauded UK hip-hop artist, poet, writer, and activist Akala to sit on the Sydney Ideas Panel during which Tasman spoke passionately about the importance of using hip-hop as a medium to shed light on important issues facing his community and society at large.
2018 is set to be a big year for Tasman Keith with the now Sydney-based artists debut EP due in the second half, which was recorded in Skinnyfish Music’s own Studio G, will hit the shelves with an embodying sound that will rattle the music scene and cement Tasman Keith as the future face and voice of hip-hop in Australia.
Meet this week's triple j Unearthed Feature Artist, Indigenous rapper and rising star, Tasman Keith. He's got a way with words and a flow to follow.
Tell us about your music. How did you develop your sound?
I guess it started simply by growing up with a father as a rapper, a mother as a singer and a bunch of uncles that could play guitar. Being constantly surrounded by music I along with my older brother would always be performing or writing, from as early as 10 my brother, cousin and I had a rap group. At fourteen a lot of my cousins and I were squeezed into a tiny room just to spend hours writing and recording every afternoon. I feel like these things mixed with the study that I put into the music and the greats of the music over time are really what has helped me develop my sound so far. That, keeping my pen sharp and working with great producers.
What’s your greatest source of inspiration for making music?
For me, anything can be a source of inspiration. But the greatest would be my community, Bowraville. These stories and feelings that I share, either come from a personal point or draw inspiration from what my people go through. Knowing that I have a voice that can not only be one for my community, but one people outside of my community can relate too is something that constantly pushes me to remain locked in.
What can punters expect from a Tasman Keith live show?
A lot of energy, a lot of truth and a bunch of mission references.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given and who was it from?
There has been a lot. But either when my father told me that when it comes to business and music, never show your full hand, keep a few tricks up your sleeve. Or when my great-grandmother told me to work for it. Simple as that.
What Australian track would you play to cheer up someone who was crying?
Tasman Keith - My Pelopolees.
What Australian track would you play to someone to make them cry?
Birdz - Testify.
If that doesn't make you feel a way, I don't know what will.
You’re the DJ at a party. The dance floor is pumping. What Australian track do you put on next?
Tasman Keith - My Pelopolees. Everyone yelling CRB (Cemetery Road Bowraville) is the key to a great party.
What was the last local gig you went to? How was it?
Barunga Festival. At the start of this year, I lived in Darwin at Studio G for two months so it's local enough haha. But yeah, Barunga was amazing. If you are reading this, that festival is a must. Shout out to the Skinnyfish fam.
Tell us about the bands or people in the Sydney music community that inspire you.
To be completely honest, for the past 6 months I’ve been so focused on finishing this project that I haven’t been looking anywhere else. But I’ve always appreciated that there seems to be an overall general respect that the Sydney scene has for each other, that and the work ethic a lot of artists here have is inspiring and keeps me motivated.
What are your plans for 2018?
Watching the current single ‘My Pelopolees’ do its thing, which we have some visuals for as well. The project I’ve been working on with James Mangohig and Nooky is in its final stages and we have already begun to roll that out, so the release of that is a major part of 2018 for me. More visuals for the other singles I have on the way, and a bunch of shows as the music comes out, and of course working on the next, staying one step ahead.View Profile Hide Interview