Luka Lesson is a master of evocative storytelling. With two best-selling poetry books under his belt, plus a global reputation as a leading Aussie slam poet, rhymes and rhythms are his bread and butter. But it’s perhaps music that is the most powerful of Lesson’s vocations.
His new track, Living Artefacts, is a collaboration with multi award-winning Indigenous artist, Kahl Wallis, who you might know from Cairns-rockers, The Medics. Built around fierce verses, tight, grim production and an ominous hymnal atmosphere, the track is a dual tale of cultural preservation, with contemporary storylines conversing over a strong sense of heritage.
Luka Lesson, with some help from Kahl Wallis, delivers a fierce, passionate rumination on heritage and the prevailing displacement of indigenous cultures on Living Artefact.
Born in Brisbane to parents of Greek heritage, Lesson is a prototypical orator, but rather than telling his stories under stars in amphitheatres or around fires in caves, his medium is hip-hop.
Speaking about the genesis of the track he says, “Looking at how to break free from racist stereotypes and represent a narrative of ancient cultures in contemporary words and music that challenge and inspire audiences gave birth to Living Artefact.”
“It is a statement to combat the sterilisation of both of our cultures, where difference is celebrated as a part of our lineage which has brought both of us to our contemporary experiences.”
On Living Artefact, Lesson is a reminiscent thinker, utilising the ability to draw inspiration from both his personal lineage and voices of antiquity to make a relevant statement, delivered with unstoppable power and authority.
His collaboration with Wallis on the track is harmonious too – two voices channeling disparate heritages with complete unanimity.
“The song to me, poetically and artistically touches on the displacement and continued forced assimilation of First Nations people around the world,” Wallis says.
“For me it’s a personal, spiritual journey which has deep connection to ancestors and country. I’m a living continuation of my ancestors and we are living proof of how to maintain resilience and strength, respecting and acknowledging those who have come before us, who have shaped and inspired our voice.”
Taking inspiration from world music, with its booming backing vocals and softly caressed bongos, and dark modern hip-hop with its roaring horns and trap hi-hats, the track simmers down a melange of flavours, tales and influences into something meaningful and resolute.
Lesson’s skill as a storyteller is profound on Living Artefact, and Wallis’ input adds a crucial layer of depth. “It’s an exciting time to be a poet and hip-hop artist,” Lesson says.
“It’s as important as ever to bring these issues into the mainstream conscience so we can break down cultural barriers for a more cohesive world where everyone’s heritage is truly celebrated and valued.”
And it’s impossible to argue with that.
Luka Lesson and Kahl Wallis kick off the Living Artefact tour this August fresh from Luka performing at 2017’s Splendour in the Grass and hosting a writers’ retreat in Greece; and Kahl emerging from the recording studio where he is currently recording his debut solo album.