• Mau Power: Indigenous rapper who uses his lyrics to bridge cultures. (Mau Power)
Torres Strait Islander hip hop artist, Mau Power, shares his story and passion for community connection with us. Mau is 1 of 10 Aussies talking to us about issues that matter to them, via #SBSUncensored.
By
Shami Sivasubramanian

5 Jul 2016 - 3:25 PM  UPDATED 25 Oct 2016 - 1:11 PM

Hip hop is in Mau Power's soul. Growing up on Thursday Island, two cultures have enriched his life and enabled him to share his story, hip hop and Indigenous culture.     

Music is Island culture and Island culture is music. We document our teachings through song and dance. Music governs our storytelling; our survival. Hip hop too comes from the storytelling tradition but in a new forum. I saw it as a culture of hope; hope for people who didn’t have any opportunities and at 14 I decided that I wanted to be a rapper.

"I didn’t know the name for it, all I knew was that there was this new style of music, dance, of culture and it was not judgmental"

"Growing up in the Torres Strait was fun. It was full of activities like fishing, hunting, diving - full of cultural activities. The whole island was our playing field," he recalls.

“Hip Hop arrived on the islands in a number of ways... I didn’t know the name for it, all I knew was that there was this new style of music, dance, of culture and it was not judgmental. I saw it gave you the freedom to do whatever and that I could be a part of it.” 

But one of the most important lessons Mau Power's childhood taught him was the ability to be creative, be imaginative and make your own fun - an opportunity he no longer sees afforded to the generations that followed him.

"We had nothing, but we created everything we needed to have fun. We built our own canoes out of roof sheeting materials, we made our own bikes out of old bicycles and spares parts that were thrown away. We built own own basketball court out of planks and ply wood on a dirt gravel area. It wasn't much, but to us then it was everything because it was our own."

Though Mau Power spent a lot of his youth being active and outdoors, he did have a quiet and sensitive side to himself, too. It was through the vehicle of rap music that he was able to explore it.

"The first song I remembered getting into was De La Soul 'Ring Ring Ring'," he says. "There were many MC's like Chuck D, Ice Cube, Ice T, Dr, Dre, Snoop, Nas, Notorious Big that inspired me to rap. But Tupac was the main artist at that time that really inspired me."

He's gone on to collaborate with the likes of Australia's own music legend Archie Roach and artists like Christine Anu; fusing his messages with melody and heart.   

Most of all, Mau Power finds music's greatest strength lies as a communication tool. And it is one he continues to use to share the stories of his and Australia's first people.

"I was hooked on the fact that it was a freedom of self expression," he says.

 

Mau Power makes up one of ten 'social influencers' set to go-live on SBS 2 Facebook this month as part of SBS Uncensored: a project where young Australians can talk openly about what issues matter to them.  

Mau was live @ 2pm on Thursday, July 5 on SBS 2, cif you missed it, all good you can catch up now. 

 

Find out how to join in:
SBS Uncensored: 10 young Aussies coming to you LIVE on SBS 2 Facebook
SBS Uncensored brings to you ten young Aussies from around the country to talk on what matters to them when it comes to making a better Australia. LIVE on SBS 2 Facebook this month; get in on #SBSUncensored.
 

 


 

First Contact (season 2) airs on 29 November, 30 November and 1 December 2016 at 8:30pm on SBS. Across 28 Days, six well-known Aussies take an epic journey into Aboriginal Australia. Watch the trailer here, and catch-up on episodes after the program airs via SBS On Demand here.