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Noongar rapper Flewnt inspires youth detainees

Rhiannon Clarke -

Noongar hip hop artist Flewnt has served as a source of inspiration for youth at Banksia Hill Detention Centre in WA.

The rapper has been encouraging the youth to write and record their own music album, through the Hip Hop 101 program.

A total of 11 unique songs have been collaboratively created by the participants and skillfully recorded at the Banksia Beats music studio. These compositions have now been compiled into a album.

Flewnt, whose real name is Josh Eggington, won the prestigious 2023 WA Music Award for Best Indigenous Act and leads the program alongside fellow rappers Optamus (Scott Griffiths) and Rush (Te Hiiritanga Wepiha).

Together, they guided the young people in exploring the art of hip hop and lyric writing with various writing sessions during the week.

Individuals have the option to compose their lyrics privately in their units or freestyle in the purpose-built studio at Banksia Hill.

Optamus, who has been leading the hip hop program at Banksia Hill for six years, mixed and mastered 'Banksia Beats Volume 2' offsite.

(L to R): Corrective Services Commissioner Brad Royce, Flewnt, Banksia Hill Aboriginal Services Manager William Hayward.

(Image: supplied)

Outgoing Department of Justice Director General Adam Tomison said the youth can express themselves through the project.

"The hip hop sessions allow young people to express themselves creatively and explore their Culture under the mentorship of role models," he said.

Banksia Hill has gained notoriety, having been the scene of many disturbances, including riots, and self-harm incidents.

Dr Tomison said music and other arts support engagement, prevention and treatment of health and mental health conditions among adolescents.

Showing off his musical talent Flewnt performed alongside his 11-year-old rapper son, INKABEE, during a CD launch event held at Banksia Hill with special guest in attendance WA hip hop star Drapht.

"I wanted to be able to contribute to young people being able to tell their stories, but also maybe harness a bit more of that cultural level, connect as a blackfella as well," said Flewnt.

"They really are pouring their hearts out in these songs and they genuinely mean what they say. They're saying it because they've had a time in their life where they've been reflecting so deeply."

Optamus said the hip hop program had a strong track record at Banksia Hill and always had a long waiting list of young people wanting to participate.

"We're able to dig a little deeper and develop an authentic relationship with these young people that have been through some pretty tough times and are looking sometimes at how they can change their lives," he said.

"It's about the young people being able to express themselves, reflect on the past, think about their hopes for the future, and do it in a supportive manner."

Flewnt performed alongside his 11-year-old rapper son, INKABEE.

(Image: supplied)

Rush said it's important to understand the environment and circumstances that resulted in the young people being here

"This is what makes our program special. We speak their language."

Corrective Services Commissioner Brad Royce said the present conditions at Banksia Hill made it possible for young people to take part in a wide range of activities such as Banksia Beats, in addition to their regular educational pursuits.

"Bolstering of staff numbers and progressive implementation of the new model of care have led to a reduction in critical incidents and significantly improved out-of-cell hours for detainees," Commissioner Royce said.

Listen to Banksia beats vol 2 here


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