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'Warrangu' at Vivid Sydney: Filipino-Aboriginal rapper Dobby shares the plight of NSW's important rivers

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Aboriginal music

In 'Warrangu', music written and composed by Dobby, people will hear about the plight of the important rivers in NSW. Source: Renae Saxby as supplied by Dobby

Published 25 May 2022 at 4:15pm
By Annalyn Violata
Source: SBS

Filipino-Aboriginal rapper Dobby continues to advocate for the relevant issues affecting Indigenous Australians, with his music. As part of Vivid Sydney, this June, his focus is on the plight of the important rivers in NSW.

Published 25 May 2022 at 4:15pm
By Annalyn Violata
Source: SBS

  • Filipino-Aboriginal rapper Dobby uses his music to advocate for Aboriginal Australians.
  • 'Warrangu' is a collection of songs by Dobby that tells about the interconnected rivers in NSW and their significance to the Aboriginal communities.
  • Vivid Sydney is back this year from May 27 - June 18. 'Warrangu' is on June 12 at the Art Gallery of NSW.
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'Warrangu' at Vivid Sydney: Filipino-Aboriginal rapper Dobby shares the plight of NSW's important rivers image

Gamit ang musika, patuloy na isinusulong ng Pilipino-Aboriginal rapper na si Dobby ang mahahalagang isyu na nakaapekto sa mga Katutubong Australyano. Nitong Hunyo, bilang bahagi ng Vivid Sydney, hatid niya ang mga hinaing kaugnay ng kalagayan ng mahahalagang ilog sa NSW.

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'Warrangu' River Story at Vivid Sydney

In his 'Warrangu' collection, the Filipino-Muruwari rapper wants to bring awareness about the circumstances that some of New South Wales' rivers are facing and how people can take action for it.

‘Warrangu’, which means river, water source or creek in Ngemba language, is a collection of songs written and composed by Rhyan Clapham, known in the music industry as “Dobby”.

"This project is a story about Brewarrina and all the towns that connect to the interconnected rivers," says the Aboriginal rapper.

Warrangu by Dobby
'It's a story about the interconnected rivers – the Barwon River, Culgoa River and the Bogan River that flows down to the Murray Darling Basin. It's dying spiri Source: Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. Gift of Australian Consolidated Press under the Taxation Incentives for the Arts Scheme, 1985. Unattributed studio.

The three rivers in New South Wales – the Barwon River to the East, the Culgoa River to the North and the Bogan River to the South - are interconnected and form tribal boundaries in Brewarrina NSW.

"Water theft on a grand scale is said to be occurring in the region for years, causing horrific and irreversible damage to our ecosystem, particularly over-irrigation and redirection of the waterways known as the Murray Darling Basin.

The Murray Darling Basin is Australia's third-largest river, and more than 2.3 million people live in the Basin, including people from more than .

Brewarrina is close to the hip hop rapper's heart. His grandmother from his father's side was born and raised in the town, south of NSW.

“It’s about the cultural significance and the stories behind these rivers and the over-irrigation of these rivers and the damage done to these rivers, especially in 2019 with massive fish kills."

Dobby did research on the three rivers and the problems relating to them, and their impact on the Aboriginal communities living around the Basin.

"It's not just about its spirit [the rivers]. It’s about its dying spirit. We need to save these rivers," says the rapper and composer.

Dobby is taking the Warrangu River Story to this year's Vivid Sydney on June 12 at the Entrance Court of the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

The Warrangu River Story is a project composed and produced by Dobby as the recipient of 2017 Create NSW Peter Sculthorpe Fellowship grant.
Dobby Rhyan Clapham
Dobby releases his new single 'Walk Away' which tells about a little bit to the invisibility of Indigenous culture and the issues we still face to e Source: SBS Filipino

Never 'Walk Away' from your culture

The Filipino-Aboriginal musician is extremely proud of his two cultures. Dobby's mother is from Tacloban, Leyte in the Philippines and arrived in Australia in 1985. His Indigenous father is from Brewarrina in Ngemba land and from the Murrawarri Republic of Weilmoringle, NSW.

The rapper, drummer and music composer aims that through his music, he'll be able to foster his Aboriginal culture and advocate for issues relevant to his community.

"For me personally, I really do believe that music and hip hop is the answer. Music is the way I can contribute to this world."

"I find meaning in songs, and I love having calls to action in a song," says the rapper.

With his newly released single, 'Walk Away', he hopes that the Aboriginal culture continues to flourish and live on in Australia.

"Walk Away speaks a little bit to the invisibility of Indigenous culture and the issues we still face even today."

He particularly picks these lines from his new song, "[t]hey took away my language and you tell me to let it go. You took away my culture, and you tell me to let it go. I’m not going to walk away".

"I also bring my Filipino-ness to that. We have a history of being colonised, so it’s very important to talk about these things, be proud of who we are, and know that we are still strong and resilient."

Music is everything for Dobby, and it is what he can offer to change the world, adding "it is also one way to connect to people."

"[Music] connects to people in ways normal speaking can’t do. It touches people. It connects people with each other. It can make you feel so many things."

Dobby hopes to produce a song written in Filipino one day.