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Hip-hop's rising star JK-47 unearths new tunes at Laneway Festival

David Prestipino -

Freshly armed with creative juices and a cracking sophomore album, Indigenous rapper JK-47 can't wait to "bring to life" a three-year project when he makes his St. Jerome's Laneway Festival debut that kicks off in Brisbane on Saturday.

The presence of the rising Indigenous rapper - real name Jacob Paulson - adds to what is arguably the festival's strongest line-up yet, the 19th edition stacked with heavy-hitters, headlined by Stormzy, Steve Lacy, Dominic Fike and Raye.

With a third of the 2024 line-up making their Australian debut, Laneway has again cemented its reputation as the best festival for alternative music fans to catch the clutch of up-and-comers outside conventional genres but on the cusp of greatness.

One of them is Paulson, with the 27-year-old Minjungbal/Gudjinburra man of Bundjalung Country near Tweed Heads telling National Indigenous Times he can't wait to bring to life tracks from his sophomore album Revision For Regrowth, released last November, including the first banging single off the album Rain, a tune you can't help being moved by.

"It's big man, I'm really excited to share this vision and bring it to life on the stage," he said from Round Mountain in Cabarita Beach, where he and long-time friend and collaborator Jay Orient have been rehearsing ahead of the Laneway tour.

"The whole album was a three-year process and it's only been out two months, so it's really still gotta shine, you know, it's only started and I'm so excited to grow with it, grow the set, grow everything around, build the shows."

The new album has come at a time of transition for Paulson, both musically and personally, and he says he is still and always will be evolving in both spaces, with the philosophical shift occurring as he became a father in 2020, just as his acclaimed debut album Made For This dropped, grabbing attention across the country with its bold portrayal of history, identity and culture.

"I grew with that album... I didn't know how important it was going to be, I just made a decision to speak about certain things," he said.

"You know I can make any type of music you want out here; but I wanted to speak about certain things that relate to my heart and my mind.

"But from the old album, even though I was talking about issues, I was focused on the solutions as well... at the end of a song there was a resolution, a resolve of the feeling, the emotion brought through the music."

The title of his anticipated second album hints at a bigger picture, a concept of shedding our victim mentality, with Paulson's raw and real lyrics effortlessly and eloquently delivered with collaborator Jay Orient's funky beats and remixes, piano riffs and ethereal soundscape, the tempo changes and sharp versatile rapping giving the listener a sense of freedom and hope, and being on the edge of the tide of uneasiness sweeping across Australia after a rollercoaster year of divisiveness and hope.

"So yeah this [new album] is another big resolution, its resolve, another resolve... the whole album is the resolve," Paulson said.

"I talk about stepping out of a victim mentality... becoming a victim to your own emotions.

"Everyone becomes subject to that, it can become normal reality, but things have to become outside the norm."

Paulson approaches making music in the same vein, experimenting with instruments old and new, random beats and remixes regularly trialled and interspersed when the pair practice, then honed in rehearsals.

A similar approach is taken with his many collaborations, which have seen the triple J Unearthed Artist of the Year shine among the burgeoning Indigenous rap and hip hop scene that continues to flourish.

Paulson said he wants to next experiment with a symphony orchestra. We can't wait to see how that deadly pairing pans out but, for now, settle in for a ride with one of Australian hip-hop's leading forces.

The St Jerome's Laneway Festival tours the country and Auckland before finishing in Perth on February 11. JK-47 won't play the Perth leg of the festival but WA fans can hear the powerul, soulful, authentic artist at the Boorloo Block Party on February 24 at The Rechabite Hall, as part of the Perth Festival.

Laneway 2024 Dates

Brisbane: Feb 3 – Brisbane Showgrounds

Sydney: Feb 4 – Sydney Showground

Auckland: Feb 6 – Western Springs

Adelaide: Feb 9 – Bonython Park

Melbourne: Feb 10 – The Park, Flemington

Perth: Feb 11 – Wellington Square

More details and city line-ups can be found here.

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