Rapping Up Our History: JK-47

This week’s episode of Rapping Up Our History is focused on JK-47. Earlier this year, the Tweed Heads artist released his debut album, Made For This, showcasing his skilled lyricism and strong social message.

In Perspectives on the Evolution of Hip-hop Music (2015), Basham concludes that Hip-hop has undergone a change in the genres short lifespan and produce promising evidence that it has positive impacts for social issues. While I agree with Basham, that this change hasn’t cancelled out the other themes of Hip-hop, I think the impact that the music has had on social issues has grown exponentially and spread internationally (Basham, 2015).

JK-47 is not the first artist to shine a touch on the racial injustice incurred from Indigenous Australians, but he delivers a strong voice to the conversation and is able to do so across rich lo-fi and boom-bap centric instrumentals. Hip-hop in Australia has an even shorter lifespan than its American counterpart, but we’re already mirroring the strides they’ve made.

The album has a mix of high energy braggadocios and solemn introspection that sees JK-47 at his best. One of the key themes in Made For This is his struggle for identity. In Andrew Green’s The Ethnography of Hip-hop Nostalgia, Hip-hop in Mexico is analysed and attributed for preserving the Mexican identity (Green, 2017). While the history of Indigenous Australians is vastly different, I feel as though Hip-hop in Australia is helping Indigenous artists like JK to regain and redefine their identity.

I’d love to hear what you thought of the album and how you connected with it. The next episode of Rapping Up Our History will take a deep dive into Ziggy Ramo’s Black Thoughts.

Frank Tremain.


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