Hip hop

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Stephen Fitz­patrick

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.

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