RAPPER'S VIEW ON SHEPLIFE
RAPPER WHO HASN’T TURNED HIS BACK ON HOME TOWN READY TO TELL THE WORLD ABOUT SHEPLIFE
Honesty, hard work and remembering where you came from— that’s what rapper Briggs is all about. From Shepparton to Melbourne to recording studios to tours in Australia and Europe and all the way back again, the past decade has been a big one for Briggs. But with the release of his third record Sheplife just around the corner, Briggs is only going to get bigger. This month, he released one of his most phenomenal singles yet— The Hunt, a collaboration with awardwinning and world renowned Indigenous artist Gurrumul.
The Hunt has been hailed as one of the most important Australian tracks of the year and this month Rolling Stone magazine called Briggs ‘‘ one of this country’s most respected, if underrated, hiphop artists’’. For Briggs, a proud Yorta Yorta man and a former Shepparton High School and Wanganui Park Secondary College student once known simply as Adam Briggs, this moment has been a long time coming. ‘‘ The Hunt is kind of like a condensed version of my journey— the last 10 years in two verses. It was taken from a song of Gurrumul’s called Baru, about the saltwater crocodile, so when I was writing The Hunt, I was thinking about that song,’’ Briggs said. ‘‘ The saltwater crocodile doesn’t chase its prey— it waits, it’s calculating and it watches. I think it represents how I work and I did it because a lot of people didn’t expect a collaboration like this.’’ As a kid, Briggs listened to rap and began to write his own lyrics as a teenager. He joined another young Shepparton MC, Peter Shiels, and the pair formed 912, performing at a gig in Melbourne. That’s where Briggs started to get noticed. Soon after, he was taken under the wing of Australian hip-hop group Hilltop Hoods, signed to their label Golden Era Records, toured Europe and even supported one of his idols, United States rapper Ice Cube. His EP Homemade Bombs and first album The Blacklist proved popular in the Australian hip-hop scene, and the hype around Sheplife is already reaching fever pitch. For Briggs, Sheplife will tell his story and where he came from. ‘‘ It is the most honest record I’ve done thus far— it reflects me,’’ he said. ‘‘ I like to look at each of my albums as a time capsule—
Sheplife is the last three years encased in a disc. It’s about moments, and my job as an artist is to take moments and flip them around into songs.’’ While many musicians who grew up in Shepparton left town for the bright lights of the city, Briggs has continued to call our town home and returns here whenever his gruelling recording and touring schedule allows. ‘‘ It keeps me grounded, it keeps me honest,’’ he said. ‘‘ Everyone knows me around here. I don’t like to pretend I’m someone I’m not and I know a lot of people who run away and hide from their roots, but the best policy for being an artist and in life is being honest. That’s what
Sheplife is about, it’s about embracing my life as it is now. ‘‘ It’s not about dressing something up to be something it’s not, and it’s not about tearing something down. This is my chance to tell my story of the last three years.’’ For Briggs, his home town is all about the people. His social media posts are peppered with people and places in Shepparton, such as barista Shingo Fujimoto— who he gives a special shoutout to in this interview— and Giulianis Hairdressing, where he’s a regular. The cover of Sheplife is the graffiti-daubed old Victorian Railways Institute building on Purcell St, near the train station. Briggs pulls no punches when it comes to the problems Shepparton— and any sizeable regional town in Victoria— faces. ‘‘ My personal experience and what I like about Shepparton is the people— the people I meet, the characters, my friends. That’s what makes a place liveable,’’ he said. ‘‘ I think Shepp faces universal problems. There’s a lot of bored kids— that’s just a part of every small town. From Mildura to Gippsland, I see similarities in all the vices people face if they’re unemployed, have been made redundant or simply aren’t finding what they need in life. It’s a universal problem, like the violence and drugs that any town that’s a junction which people pass through faces. ‘‘ Our big problem is
I DON’T LIKE TO PRETEND I’M SOMEONE I’MNOT AND I KNOW A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO RUN AWAY AND HIDE FROM THEIR ROOTS, BUT THE BEST POLICY FOR BEING AN ARTIST AND IN LIFE IS BEING HONEST. THAT’S WHAT SHEPLIFE IS ABOUT, IT’S ABOUT EMBRACING MY LIFE AS IT IS NOW.
something like if SPC leaves
— any kind of loss like that. It’s not only iconic to the area, but it’s people’s lives, people who have worked there for the last 30 years— where do they go from here if SPC is gone?
‘‘ That’s the stuff that’s worrying and what comes to mind. But it’s happened all over the world, that’s the nature of the beast.’’ This week, Briggs has traipsed around in the snow at Falls Creek, Mt Buller and Mt Hotham, performing a series of gigs with Golden Era labelmates Funkoars, Vents and k21. Next up is more touring, more studio work and more promotion. In between all that, he’s hoping to return to Shepparton to launch Sheplife., which will be released on August 22.
‘‘ I don’t like to stop too long. The roses are not being smelled at the moment, that’s for sure,’’ he said.