Rising star Kobie Dee has had a jam-packed 2021 and with the release of his debut EP in November, the Gomeroi rapper shows no signs of slowing down.
Gratitude Over Pity is a five-track collection encapsulating real-life adversity and relentless advocacy for his people and culture.
Packed with passion, Gratitude Over Pity has a powerful message.
"I just want people to know that they can make it through anything," he said.
"I talk about my past and some of the negative things that have happened, but there is also where I am now and what I see for myself in the future ... It's never too late to change your mindset."
Written throughout stages of his life, he uses real events and relationships to inform his art; telling each narrative through a lens of understanding and appreciation.
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The 23-year-old said that the EP represents his journey and moments in his life up until this point in time.
"The whole EP is a journey from me being a boy, being caught up in life, growing into a man and dealing with the traumas that I've faced and coming out on top," he said
"I want people to feel connected to it I want my struggles and success to inspire people ... A major turning point for me was focusing on my gratitude over pity and reflecting on what I'm grateful for in my life.
"Those layers of gratitude are my mum, my daughter, my culture, the area where I grew up, the people around me and feeling grateful to be who I am."
His gift for storytelling helps Dee connect with his audience and send a message to listeners who may not have been raised in similar communities to the characters in his songs.
To date, the young star's most successful single is Jody, which has over 3 million Spotify streams.
Jody takes on a diarised style of events following three young boys through the decisions they make and the cards they are dealt.
Dee reflected on a time he realised the power his lyrics held and the opportunity he had to tell another side of these stories.
"A big eye-opener for me was at about fourteen, I performed a song with a friend for the governor-general at the time," he said
"There were people in suits, people we wouldn't usually perform in front of. After the show, they asked questions about my lyrics, there was an interest in what we were saying.
"I realised that not everyone comes from this life, and they don't know what happens in our communities ... I wanted to open the door for them to understand."
The opening single of his EP, About A Girl, plays out the devastation substance abuse and addiction can cause.
The rapper said the inspiration came from seeing so many young girls falling into the trap of toxic relationships and addiction.
"It's something I wanted to bring awareness to," he explained.
"I think if I can tell these stories, it can bring healing to a lot of people and bring awareness to the next generation if these issues come up for them."
His dedication to giving back has birthed two major community projects in 2021, the rapper launched a five-part podcast with the help of the Weave Youth and Community Services series Know Role Models.
Hosting a lineup of inspiring guests such as sporting icon Adam Goodes, the series is a medium Kobie wanted to experiment with.
"I'm used to being interviewed, but to be on the other side of that was really interesting, I was so nervous it's such a different feeling putting out a podcast to releasing music," he said
"Being able to create a platform where I can speak to people that are role models in my community, they're people I've been inspired by growing up.
"Sharing their stories and giving them a platform to inspire other people through my fan base is something I would love to have had growing up."
Earlier in the year in collaboration with Weave Youth and Community Services and Randwick Council, he threw a Block Party in Maroubra's Coral Sea Park that raised over $40,000 for Youth Week 2021.
"Being able to create a free experience in our backyard for the youth that they might not have gotten otherwise and seeing the whole community come together, there's no other feeling in the world that compares," he said.
Dee's art and advocacy go hand in hand, and he works with one message - we're all in this together.
"We can help each other raise the next generation and give them a better life than the one we had," he said
"If I can help break the cycle, advocate for this change, speak about what's happening in our communities and advocate for our communities through my music or these projects then I'll do it to the best of my ability."
By Darby Ingram