Late last week, we premiered the brand new single from Tasman Keith – “Might Snap”. The single (and its accompanying music video) tackles very real themes of addiction and personal struggle and as an introduction to this emerging hip hop talent, “Might Snap” kicks the door in.
Hailing from the Bowraville Mission in NSW’s Nambucca Valley, Tasman has a hip hop in his blood. His father, Wire MC, has been an integral thread of the rich pattern of musical history woven by Indigenous hip hop artists for decades and its this ambition and natural drive for the creation of defiant and arresting music that we’ve seen Tasman inherit.
“I’ve been doing this since I was eight, but seriously since 14.” he explains. “I’ve been messing around and writing with my father because he used to do a lot of workshops and gigs in hip hop. From when I was eight I was messing around with choruses and I guess since then, it just always seemed something normal for me to do. Just to create. I feel like I can speak for a lot of people, especially down at home, I feel like my voice is also their voice. I know a lot of people down here are hard to speak to even in person, about certain issues. I feel like they can relate a lot to my songs. That whole drive is a major part in what helps me create and not only me telling my story, but me helping other people find themselves or relate to me and can see that their story is also being told through me.”
In “Might Snap”, audiences are seeing Tasman step out into the solo spotlight. The last year has seen him take to stages alongside Nooky on hype man duties, as well as sharing stages with the likes of Tech N9ne and A.B. Original. His profile has been on the rise since releasing the What Songs & Why? Pt 1 mixtape in 2015, but as he makes his way through 2017, Tasman is intent on making his presence strongly felt.
“I haven’t dropped anything in over a year and the last thing was a mixtape, so this is going to be the official stamp.” he says. “This is me saying, ‘I’m here and this is the way to do it,’ – this is me putting myself out there properly. It’s very exciting because I’ve been working non stop for the past year. We’ve been working on “Might Snap” since late January, so I’ve been waiting to get this out for ages. Now that it’s here, it’s exciting.”
“It’s [about] people really hearing me develop my sound, especially in this past year, and showing people that this is serious.” Tasman furthers. “Not that I wasn’t serious before, but it was more just mixtape stuff. For me, this song especially is me showing what I’m about and what people can expect with future music. In putting my name out there in such a way that “Might Snap” does, I just feel like it’s a good way to come out with a song that is more than just me speaking about myself.”
Remaining connected to his community, Tasman and his music acts somewhat of a conduit for young people at home who are without the same creative platform and opportunities. It’s not so much a responsibility felt, but an opportunity to bring a new light to the craft that Tasman has been relishing.
“I used to do music a lot with a lot of the brothers down [at] home here,” he says. “A lot of them have dropped off because of things that I can’t control but that they can control, like drug use. So when the mixtape was done, I knew that I had to take steps first before I put something official out so that when I did put this stamp on it, it could make the impact that I believe it could, instead of it just being a rushed job. People could actually take it seriously and could hear that I had actually put a lot into this.”
“In a town as small as Bowraville, which has a population of 2,500 people, kids seeing somebody doing something that is not normal, in terms of what is ‘normal’ like a 9-5 job, in a small town that you’re basically stuck in unless you have that eye to look further.” he adds, mentioning what’s exciting him about releasing new music. “It’s going to be exciting to show the younger fullas what they can do, whether they want to be the best housecleaner in the world, they can do that too! Whatever they want to be, as long as they can see that there is another world outside of this small town. It is out there to go and get.”
While he isn’t an artist to rest on the laurels of the successes of his father and what is an impressive hip hop pedigree, Tasman acknowledges the trailblazing impact Indigenous artists have had before him in laying foundations from which a strong, yet still criminally underrated, level of the Australian music industry has been built. When it comes to his place in it all, he remains excited about the possibilities that sit on the horizon.
“I have a lot in store,” he enthuses. “It’s going to be exciting to see where this goes. I’m definitely excited for it. I’m also excited to see the follow on and see just how people react to the sound. I’ve got a lot of little cousins down at home who love it, so it’s going to be good to see them also see a bigger audience love it, especially when they can relate to it. What’s exciting to me is the fact that I am getting to make music and I am getting my voice heard and the stories that I’m telling are also being heard as well.”
“Especially for Aboriginal artists in this country now, there’s more of a place for us. Not that there was never a place for us but i guess in the mainstream now, thanks to people like Briggs and such with Reclaim Australia. It’s the same with other Aboriginal artists in the past who have paved the way for us. It seems that now the door is finally open to the rest of the country to hear this type of music and I feel like it’s a perfect time for me to bring this stuff out and there’s a lot of thanks to people like my father, people like Briggs, people like Brothablack, Munkimuk – a lot of people who have done the groundwork but never really got much recognition. They just did it for the love of it. We’re going to do it for the love of it and also get the recognition and to tell our stories.”
Photo by Barbara McGrady|NITV.