Too often, as Indigenous elders pass away, so too does their language. But Danzel Baker, aka Baker Boy, “doesn’t want to be the first and last” rapper spitting rhymes in his native tongue.
When Danzel Baker was 16, he left North-East Arnhem Land to make it as a hip-hop dancer in Melbourne – but he very nearly turned back.
“It's just really big. Noisy cars, the weather's crazy cold, I don't see much animals, much stars, much sunlight,” remembers Baker. “I called my aunty, I called my cousins and they all said, “You are not allowed to come back! You stay and you represent us and you do what you do and make us proud.”
With his family’s tough love, Baker stuck around, and four years later he opened for 50 cent’s Australian tour and performed at Splendour in the Grass.
Baker’s family have always encouraged his love – his need – to dance.
“When I was a kid I was dancing on top of the table saying, ‘Miss, look at me! This my stage! They sent me to the principal’s office and then my aunty, Nalida, came in and growled at them like, ‘Why do you guys keep kicking him out from school for just dancing on top of the table?’”
‘Why do you guys keep kicking him out from school for just dancing on top of the table?’”
These days, Baker is still dancing and now he’s also rapping in his native tongue Yolŋu Matha. For Baker, it’s not only about doing what he loves and making his family proud – it’s about putting Arnhem Land, its people, and its culture on the map.
There are over 120 Indigenous languages still spoken around Australia, but as elders pass away many of those languages are lost to history.
“There's not much Australians that know about remote communities around Australia, says Baker. “And people keep thinking that we don't exist here anymore. I don’t want to be the first and the last Yolŋu Matha rapper.”
Watch Baker Boy rap in-language here: