Two months since the kick-off of 2018 and Baker Boy has already become the number one Indigenous artist dominating the airwaves.
Making his way into the music scene, he's opened the stage for internationally acclaimed music artists 50 Cent, Dizzie Rascal and Yothu Yindi & The Treaty Project.
With his two, first released songs hitting triple j’s Hottest 100, and Marryuna making it to the top 20, it's no surprise this ‘fresh new prince’ from Arnhem Land is about to embark on his first nationwide tour.
Since childhood, all Baker Boy wanted to do was dance. He dipped his toes into an array of activities, but he could never kick off his dancing shoes.
"I tired out AFL, Tafe, mechanical engineering, plumbing and youth leadership programs, but I couldn't find anything that interested me," he told NITV News.
Marryuna means 'to dance' in Yolgnu Matha, and as Baker Boy continues to pursue his dreams of performing, the performer saw it fitting to name his hit song after his favourite hobby.
Born in Darwin and raised in the remote NT communities of Yurrwi, formerly known as Milingimbi and Maningrida, Baker Boy raps in his native language, Yolngu Matha, as a means to proudly represent his culture, heritage and beliefs.
At just 21, the Dhuwa artist is the first Aboriginal rapper singing in language to break into the mainstream.
“No one was rapping in language so I thought I’d try [to] make history to be the first... and it happened, which is crazy, it’s so insane!” Baker Boy says.
“My music is all about bridging two worlds as one."
After graduating at age 16, Baker Boy was accepted on the spot when auditioning at The Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts. That instant recognition of his talent boosted his confidence on stage and, in turn, lead to his first break. He got scouted by the Indigenous Hip Hop Projects (IHHP), a well-known artist collective working to empower remote communities, in no time.
His work with the IHHP provided him with a platform to travel around the country an inspire others to 'dream big'.
“I was able to travel around remote Australia, in remote communities, talking about healthy lifestyles and being a strong role model for the next generation. I was able to encourage them to do something I did, like take a big step out of a small remote community and be a sign for the next generation — to actually be strong, confident and comfortable in my skin because the world is really big out there,” Baker Boy recalled.
Hip-hop has a reputation for producing songs about rap about drug taking, womanising and being 'cashed up', however, Baker Boy focuses on showcasing his culture, being an example for youth and celebrating his triumphs with family, friends and community.
“It helps inspire the next generation — that’s why it’s important to have strong black role models to show little brothers the right way and keep them on track so they can be the next leaders."
But Baker Boy's sudden rise to mainstream popularity has caught him by surprise. Sitting down just before his big performance in Sydney, he can barely contain his excitement. He just can't believe just how far he’s actually come.
English is not Baker Boy's first language and just a few years ago, even a basic English sentence was a challenge for him. While this could be a barrier for breaking it into mainstream Australian music, Baker Boy's determination was not going to halt his dream.
“These brother boys, they always rap freestyle, where someone is beatboxing, and I always listen to them and would think that’s so cool. Then they’d ask me to try and do it and I'd be like, ‘sorry I can’t do it’ because English isn’t my first language,” Baker Boy explained.
Deciding to put pen to paper, Baker Boy promised himself the next time he was asked to rap freestyle he’d be prepared.
“I wrote this crazy verse mixed with Yolngu Matha and English and now that song is known as Cloud 9, and when people first heard it they just absolutely lost it.”
It didn't take long for him to be taken into a recording studio to put his street magic into what would become a popular track that took Australia by storm.
“My music is all about bridging two worlds as one. I want everyone, no matter black or white to come together and have fun, no colour you know? You see it as just human beings. We all have brains, eyes, and hearts. I think it’s cool to have everyone come together to be strong and marryuna."
Despite skyrocketing to success, the talented artist from the remote communities of Arnhem Land hasn't let the fame get to him. Humble, modest and candid, Baker Boy says he's just beginning his musical journey and finding the pieces of his true identity along the way.
"Every time I’m on stage it’s like I’m a different person – I’m Baker Boy, not Danzal. It’s two different personalities," he described.
"Danzal is basically me. He sometimes stutters with English, is shy and stuff, but then on stage he transforms into Baker Boy... Baker Boy, well that guy is in the zone! He just has this amazing presence and only wants to marryuna."
The Marryuna tour kicks off in May and will see Baker Boy perform live in Vic, NSW, WA and Qld, with more locations yet to be announced.