“You paint your skin black, but you don’t wear it as your own/ Australia, grow a fucking backbone” – Ziggy
Too many times this year has yet another blackface incident divided this country’s stance on cultural appropriateness and political correctness. On the one side people argue that it’s not a big deal and the intention cancels out racial epithet, on the other side those who feel historically and personally persecuted by such behaviours and attitudes continuously attempt to reason but when it falls on deaf ears it translates into exhausted fury.
Indigenous Australian Perth emcee Ziggy presents an ode to the frivolous debate in his new single ‘Black Face’. The Western Australian rapper’s brand of social consciousness and fierce cadence was brought to the nation’s attention when A.B. Original featured his songs ‘Fire’, ‘White Lies’ and ‘Black Thoughts’ on their NAIDOC Triple J Spotify playlist. His signature rapid-fire rhyme patterns and unforgiving relentlessness are on full display in the new single.
‘Black Face’ is inspired by one of this year’s more frustrating black face incidents, where a mother, aware of the taboo, defiantly dressed up her son as Western Eagles footballer Nic Naitanui for a primary school costume competition. The clip opens with audio footage of the news report while a painted Ziggy traverses green wilderness, the visuals spliced with stock footage of Indigenous tribes in traditional war-paint and animal skins.
Tranquil piano flutters beneath boom-bap percussion as oppressive ink stains Ziggy’s skin while he stands bare, staring down the lens shooting fierce grimaces while delivering a sermon of frustration and an incredulous plea for understanding as the visuals splash images of an asphyxiating Ziggy clambering for air beneath a plastic sheet and historical documentation of his proud Indigenous people, reminding the opponents of the human faces these incidents marginalise and disenfranchise.
Produced by JCAL, directed/edited by Jacqueline Pelczar, produced by Elaine Smith and shot by Brandon Weston, Ziggy states that the song’s intention isn’t to blame or attack a child but to instigate conversation and demonstrate that, “We as a country still accept racism as just a joke.” Detractors may conveniently label it as shock tactics, but the power of the message and the might of aesthetic clarifies the song as the side of the conversation who are being continually ignored.
This isn’t social justice antics. This is a person who is telling you a group of people are hurting. It’s confronting, but if you won’t pay attention when looking Ziggy dead in the face, when will you listen?
Ziggy launches the new single tonight including a star-studded local line-up of DJ Beryl Steep of Perth’s San Cisco, Marksman Lloyd, Phocal and JCAL, and you can also hear Ziggy at TedX UWA on Saturday November 26. ‘Black Face’ is out now on Ramo Records.