Baker Boy, the moniker of Darwin-born Indigenous rapper Danzal Baker, has been graced with the coveted title of Young Australian of the Year at the annual Australian of the Year awards ceremony last Friday.
Baker hails from the Milingimbi community in the Northern Territory’s north-eastern Arnhem Land. Yolngu Matha, his native tongue, features on most of his tracks. In his acceptance speech on Friday, the artist alternated between Yolngu Matha and English. English is his third language.
Baker Boy took out the coveted title of Young Australian of the Year on Friday, in recognition for his work across rap, dance, acting and graffiti.
Baker explained that when he first starting making music, he chose to alternate between rapping in Yolngu Matha and English “to honour and respect my culture and mark the importance of the international year of Indigenous language…. Because my ancestors are not the last Australians, they are the first Australians.”
“I see this as an important moment, not just for me, but for my people respecting the strength of our culture and value of knowledge and power in music and voices. It has to unite us. This message goes out to my fellow young Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous girls and boys in every corner of the country.
It’s important that, no matter the struggles and the pressure society puts on you, stay strong, healthy and positive, you will get through. Every single one of us matters, our stories, our voices matter.
With love and respect, we have the power to shape the future.”
This past weekend was a whirlwind for the artist, who also took out 51st place in this year’s triple j Hottest 100 with his single Mr La Di Da Di. When speaking of the importance of educating non-Indigenous people on the affairs of Indigenous Australia, Baker said:
“I get to perform in front of a lot of people, different races as well. When I’m on the stage I use that as a time to educate through music.”
Baker Boy is one of the many artists showcasing their talent at this year’s St Jerome’s Laneway Festival. Catch the Young Australian of the Year recipient at all Laneway Festival locations across Australia.
An interview with Baker Boy also featured in Issue 7 of Happy Mag.