Baker Boy

The ca­reer of Arn­hem Land-born, Mel­bourne-based rap­per and dancer Danzel Baker has sky­rock­eted in the past few months. Jack La­ti­more caught up with him for a quick yarn

Time Out (Melbourne) - - INSIDE -

The Arn­hem Land rap­per cooks up a storm for Splen­dour and Dark Mofo

IT’S AL­READY BEEN an in­cred­i­ble 2018 for Danzel Baker – aka Baker Boy. On top of be­ing the first Indige­nous artist to have two sin­gles in Triple J’s Hottest 100 (‘Mar­ryuna’ came in at num­ber 17), he was nom­i­nated in April for three gongs in the Aus­tralian In­de­pen­dent Records (AIR) Awards, in­clud­ing Best Artist and Best Sin­gle. There’s no end to it in sight ei­ther. Af­ter tour­ing the Groovin the Moo circuit in April and May, play­ing solo shows across the coun­try and head­ing to Splen­dour in the Grass in July, Baker Boy will kick off a tour of Nor­way (his first ever visit to Europe). Oh, and there’s also a new EP in the works.

Baker Boy, I was talk­ing with the boys from [dance troupe] Djuki Mala when they were here, and they’re all food­ies. They’re all your cousins, and you’re a for­mer Djuki dancer, so is the real rea­son you’re liv­ing in Mel­bourne is for the food?

Well that’s the other rea­son! Plus I get to ex­pe­ri­ence all dif­fer­ent types of cul­ture. But yeah, there’s more op­por­tu­ni­ties here than back home, which is a re­mote com­mu­nity up in Arn­hem Land with only about 800-1,000 peo­ple liv­ing on it. There’s prob­a­bly about seven jobs, and that’s it. I still love back home though. I get to go hunt­ing up there, and I love hunt­ing and fish­ing. It’s the best.

How do you fare in Mel­bourne then? Do you get home­sick?

I’m start­ing to ac­tu­ally feel like I’m home here as well. ’Cos I’ve got friends and fam­ily here. This is my sec­ond home. One day I’ll bring all the fam­ily down to show them around.

I read some­where that some of your in­flu­ences are old school, like NWA and Pub­lic En­emy.

Yeah, when I was grow­ing up my dad and all them al­ways played that stuff on the stereo, a lit­tle cas­sette tape. It came in handy when I started do­ing hip-hop stuff. I like old school, be­cause old school talked about the strug­gle.

Do you see the work you’re pro­duc­ing as po­lit­i­cal?

Not really. I’m more show­ing peo­ple what we can be. I love what AB Orig­i­nal do, I really love it. But for me, I’m just mak­ing a song where ev­ery­body en­joys it and doesn’t feel like they get­ting at­tacked.

Now, where I’m from, coun­try mu­sic is mas­sive among com­mu­nity. Can we ex­pect a coun­try mu­sic al­bum from you at some point in the fu­ture?

[ Laughs] I grew up with coun­try mu­sic too! But nah, I can’t. I reckon my bruthaboi Dal­las Woods can! He’s one of my MCS. He’s an upcoming artist.

What about your time in Djuki Mala? Did per­form­ing as part of that troupe pre­pare you for what you’re do­ing now?

Yeah, def­i­nitely. It taught me con­fi­dence to per­form in front of thou­sands of peo­ple. It all came in handy when I started do­ing my own thing – work­ing with both Djuki Mala and also Indige­nous Hip Hop Projects. I mean, I started rap­ping be­cause of Indige­nous Hip Hop Projects. Now, I’m go­ing around re­mote com­mu­ni­ties work­ing with them. See­ing all the strug­gles that kids have in re­mote com­mu­nity – all of that stuff really in­spires me. ■ à Splen­dour in the Grass, North By­ron Park­lands, Yel­gun 2481. www.splen­dourinthe­ Fri Jul 20. Dark Mofo, Ho­bart 7000. dark­ Sat Jun 15.

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