With a passion for hip hop and health, Perth-based rapper Ziggy hopes to be a voice for those that don’t have one. The 21-year-old pre-medical student and gifted MC is gaining attention with his EP Black Thoughts: an articulate and impassioned expression of the frustration and pain of witnessing Aboriginal culture and lives being lost at a devastating rate.
For Ziggy, he sees many gifts in being an Indigenous man. “To me it means I’m the luckiest person in the world," he says. "I think it’s an absolute honour and privilege to be Indigenous. Not only are we the oldest living people in the world; we are the strongest. We literally survived genocide.”
I’ve got a strong connection to my non-Indigenous culture, but I’ve had to defend my father’s culture all of my life.
Having spent time living and learning on country, one of the most positive things Ziggy has learned from his culture is the ability to be present. “It’s something that I think has been gifted to us.” Ziggy muses that this ability has a lot to do with a culture’s survival: “It’s no easy feat to navigate the way through this country for thousands and thousands of years, and I think that is within our blood and that is passed on. I think our ancestors are the most incredible human beings to ever touch this earth.”
And this presence infuses his creative process. “How I write and my creativity, that style, that is all about being present. The way I navigate words to music is that same thing.” Being able to speak about issues uncensored is another freedom that Ziggy achieves through his music. “When I write I don’t second guess myself,” he says.“As Indigenous people we are so often forced to give away our intellectual property to help educate those around us.” In his music Ziggy doesn’t hold back. “For me with creativity, when it happens, I don’t try and filter it. I really need that outlet.”
With plans to gain both a PhD in Indigenous Knowledge and Heritage, and a guaranteed spot in medical school, Ziggy sees his path as being one of raising awareness and also one day becoming a doctor, inspired by his time living and working in healthcare in Yolgnu country in East Arnhem Land.
“[While]promoting the prevention of chronic disease in remote communities, I was working with a lot of doctors and they knew everything there was to know about health, the only issue was the need to deliver culturally appropriate health,” Ziggy tells SBS.
Identifying as both Indigenous, from his father descending from Wik mob of Cape York Peninsula, and non-Indigenous with Scottish heritage on his mother’s side, Ziggy acknowledges inhabiting the ‘third space’, the in-between. “I’ve worn my kilts and marched with Bagpipes. I’ve got a strong connection to my non-Indigenous culture, but I’ve had to defend my father’s culture all of my life.”
Although inhabiting this space has been a struggle at times, he sees himself in a unique position from which to change the way our country deals with Indigenous issues.
Not only are we the oldest living people in the world; we are the strongest. We literally survived genocide.
“We’ve got a lot of people today who are both non-Indigenous and Indigenous, so you’ve got people who understand both ways.” Educating Non-Indigenous Australians, especially those with policy-making capacity, on Indigenous ways and protocols is how he sees the lives of Indigenous communities improving. “We are never going to be able to unite as a whole if we don’t validate both ways of life.” Ziggy tells SBS.
“We are the oldest continuing civilisation on the map that’s something we should be so proud of. And that’s what I want to do, is bring that pride back.”
Check out Ziggy’s music here: https://soundcloud.com/ziggymusicaus
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.