Become L-FRESH the LION Elefant Traks If you think about one version of postcolonial Australia, it could be this: someone who’s the local-born product of migrant parents, striving for self-betterment as well as looking to give back to society; carrying their own stories and religious traditions but finding ways of fitting these into the new world, all the while acknowledging the indigenous one that’s been displaced.
The best examples of this look simultaneously to the chaos of the past and the hope of the future, bringing elements of both to the present.
Sukhdeep Singh, whose Sikh parents arrived in Australia in the 1980s, is one such thread in this social tapestry.
Singh grew up in southwestern Sydney and went on to become two things of equal note: a lawyer with a deep commitment to refugee and migrant issues, and a vibrantly sophisticated hip-hop artist known as L-FRESH the LION.
As the former, he brings a practical understanding to complex social issues. As the latter, he’s informed by all that experience, but he’s also just deep in the groove, “an entertainer, but to me this is so much more than music”, as he raps on Be Cool.
Don’t be fooled by the “more than music” line, though; the technical assuredness of Become is beguiling, from the super cool-jazz intro to Pray for Me to the soaring pain of Elefant Traks labelmate Jimblah on unBecome, from the traditional instrumentation and musical scales on Panjab: An Introduction (“Let me take you to the land of both my mother and my father / where life is so hard but the people work harder”) to the shout-out gospel chorus of Black and White, the infectious almost six-minute album closer that apparently began life as a 2am voicemail message.