Melbourne rapper and proud Butchulla man Birdz is cementing his status as one of the country’s most prominent artists with his highly anticipated sophomore record Legacy, to be released this Friday via Bad Apples Music.
Raised in Katherine, Northern Territory and now based in Naarm, Birdz has been busy since his critically acclaimed 2017 debut album Train of Thought and shows no signs of slowing. Train of Thought won the Australian Independent Record Label Associations’ title of Best Independent Hip Hop Album, was shortlisted for the Australian Music Prize, nominated for Music Victoria’s Best Hip Hop Album and was supported extensively by community radio. This success was followed up by his 2019 Place of Dreams EP, which earned a nomination for the Corner Hotel Artist of the Year Award, a national tour supporting Seth Sentry and high rotation on triple j. Birdz has since appeared on ABC’s The Set with Missy Higgins, featured on triple j and ABC i-view’s RAP IT UP documentary series, and is the face of a nationwide ‘Strong Mob’ health campaign.
Legacy is a collection of 10 compelling tracks that empower black Australia with a contemporary update of melodic boom bap and sharp, honest lyrics. The album features outstanding production from Adelaide beatsmith Trials (Funkoars, A.B. Original) and guest appearances from Ngaiire, Thom Crawford, Fred Leone and Missy Higgins.
The album discusses themes of hope and determination with a confronting yet comforting assertion while addressing racism, corruption and disparity on stolen land. Each polished track is brilliantly executed in both production and delivery and includes some of his most successful singles yet. Birdz demonstrates sophisticated and versatile flows and harmonies over varied infectious and innovative beats. The stark lyrics speak of potential and purpose with an underlying message of the legacy he wishes to leave behind for his family and serves as a guide for his young son when navigating through the conflict of modern society.
“I think the way I approach music and creating really shifted around the time I made a song called, ‘BLACK CHILD’ (ft. Mo’ju) which was on my last project,” Birdz says of the album’s fruition. “When I made that video, I really wanted to portray the strength and beauty in who we are as proud Aboriginal people. Moving forward I realise how much that experience impacted me as a father, and as an artist, and becoming more and more conscious of what I’m leaving behind for my son and the future generations,” he continues. “I feel like that’s where the concept for LEGACY was born.”
“The first song on the new album is called LEGACY part 1 and it talks about facing my demons and asking myself what kind of legacy I want to leave for my family,” Birdz explains. “As the album progresses, it’s a journey of realising my self-worth, potential and purpose. It then leads into LEGACY part 2, which is a moment of clarity for me and an open letter to my son,” he adds. “Throughout the album Trials and I wanted to delve into different sounds and styles, which I think really allowed me to be free to explore all the different emotions and stories I wanted to share. I’m so proud of the record and beyond grateful to Trials and everyone involved. I can’t wait to share it with everyone.”
The eponymous album opener ‘Legacy’ is built on delicate acoustic guitar and melancholic strings that erupt into a singalong chorus steeped in questions of purpose, featuring the smooth vocals of respected community leader and artist Fred Leone. Next is groovy single ‘Fly’, a textured statement of triumph with invigorated verses and soaring vocals featuring Papua New Guinea-born Sydney-based singer Ngaiire. Unapologetic track ‘Aussie Aussie’ is a tongue-in-cheek criticism of the all too familiar ignorant arguments offered by white Australia reading like an open letter to his son.
‘Highs and Lows’ takes a more traditional approach with modern boom-bap drums and a low buzzing synth paired with aggressive verses in a blistering narrative. Summery single ‘They Don’t Know’ starring Thom Crawford features bright acoustic guitar and a Reggaeton beat that reflects the light-hearted lyrics. Moody cut ‘Caught Up’ showcases Birdz’ flexible voice with abrasive bars and processed vocals swimming through glitchy synths and spacious halftime breaks, standing out as a modest highlight of the album. ‘Play the Game’ is a fast swagger-filled rap track with smatterings of double-time flows and witty comebacks over sweeping bass and rumbling kick drums.
Opening with a reverberant haunting piano riff, ‘Know Your Truth’ is an emotive anthem that recites life experiences and laments ongoing personal struggles with a catchy although gloomy chorus. Latest single ‘Legacy pt. 2’ featuring the beloved Missy Higgins is a poignant testament to parenthood with moving piano and a steady beat to carry the beautiful message of leaving a legacy to our loved ones. Anthemic album closer “Bagi-la-m Bargan” sees Fred Leone return in his native tongue as a Butchulla yawar wirray (song and dance) with Birdz fiercely defending his country and his people, scoring him #30 on triple j’s Hottest 100 this year.
Hip hop has been an invaluable platform for Australian and Indigenous artists to voice their frustrations and concerns for the nation’s tense socio-political climate and Birdz is at the forefront of this overdue movement. Legacy is set to be a gamechanger and showcases the rapper at his finest without so much as a hint of forgiveness – and we can’t get enough of it.