Howler, Melbourne, Saturday November 17, 2018
We all know a large component of historical rap is about big-upping your wealth and status – and why wouldn’t you, if you’d come from modest beginnings? The other side of the coin is recognition and celebration of your roots. For many rappers, bona fide humility gets lost somewhere in between; for NE Arnhem Land’s Danzel Baker, there’s nothing more illustrative of his mission than the lyrics to single Mr La Di Da Di – “Money is all that you got; I got my friends and fam, the only currency I understand.”
The (just turned) 22-year-old rapper had a sold-out Howler roiling with good vibes on Saturday night, in the second-last performance of his current and largely sold-out tour. His inter-song banter was equal parts hype and honesty, all permeated by an irresistibly easy grace; when he mentioned how hard he’s worked this year (which is dead true), and how shocked he was to hear his name announced as winner of Male Artist of the Year at the Dreamtime Awards the evening previous (not to mention winning NT’s Young Australian of the Year a few days before that, to which he didn’t allude), you could see the earnestness all over his face.
The musician’s dancing (solo or synchronised with back-ups) was electrifying as per, and we received an extra helping of Baker’s didge skills during an extended jam in the outro to hit Marryuna. A live drummer lent explosive power to tracks which could have sufficed with the DJ’s beats – but Baker is all about corporeal energy and collaboration, with fellow MCs Kian and Dallas hitting the stage for select tracks.
Baker closed out the show with the news that his debut album is very much on the way, so here’s to manic dancing with our proud black Yolngu boy until that gem drops next year.
Baker Boy has one date left on his current tour: the sold-out, all ages show this Sunday Nov 25 at Northcote Social Club (Melbourne).