Conflict & Justice

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Redfern Records is a new Australian label with a new goal, to record Aboriginal hip hop. Redfern kicked things off recently with its first album. It's called "Beats From Tha Streets." The founders of Redfern say there's an untapped market for young indigenous artists who want to rap about their lives. Phil Mercer sent us this report from Sydney.

Stephen and Nikita Ridgeway started Redfern records last year as a way to give voice to Australia's urban aboriginal youth.

The sister and brother team named their label after the inner-city Sydney neighborhood where they grew up. Nikita Ridgeway says they want to emphasize an urban flavor you don't hear in a lot of traditional aboriginal music.

Ridgeway: You know, most commonly when you think of indigenous music people tend to think traditional Aboriginal people like from Arnhem Land - Yothu Yindi. They always automatically assume something political but where we come in as an urban label we want to portray other issues - what it's like for an urban Aboriginal to live in urban society, what we go through in comparison to people that live out in remote communities. It's very different.

This track is "This is What it is" It's by the group Pott Street. They're from Darwin in Australia's rugged Northern Territory. Rapper O'Zee says Pott Street hopes to set an example for aboriginal youth there.

O'Zee: There is a lot of talent in the indigenous youth and we want to try to show them that you can get noticed and you can get your music recorded like we've done. We want to show that you can do that from Darwin.

Many have already made it. Munki Muk is one of Australia's most established indigenous rappers. He mixes aboriginal languages and sounds into his music.

In this track, Dreamtime, Munki Muk describes the suffering of Aborigines after white settlers colonized Australia in the late 1800s.

He says telling stories is an important part of his music, as it is for other aboriginal artists he's helped during his career...

Munki Muk: Uplifting, thought provoking - sometimes people take you on a downer and it's all in the story, whoever is telling the story. Obviously they're talking about their lives and what they've been through and what their people have been through. Things like that. Fantastic just to see these people out there having a go and coming through with their ideas.

Munki Muk's producer Pearl says the songs reflect the inner strength of indigenous Australians...

Pearl: We're very proud to be Aboriginal people and we're proud to have survived the colonisation of Australia and I think that is first and foremost is what comes through for the hip hop and it's that reason why I love listening to it. It's kind of a we've been knocked about and this has happened to us but we're still here.

For The World, I'm Phil Mercer in Sydney.

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