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Briggs' bumper all-Indigenous Victorian festival lineup champions talent, not politics

Jarred Cross -

Yorta Yorta man and Australian rap royalty Briggs says any music festival not properly representing the abundance of Indigenous performers in the industry "is clearly just lazy and-or f*****g up".

In fact, the 36-year-old said the hardest part of curating the line-up for his upcoming First and Forever festival was having to turn away mates and peers putting their hand up to jump on the bill.

Malyangapa-Barkindji rapper Barkaa. image: Luke Currie-Richardson

Earlier this month Briggs announced the blockbuster lineup taking to Ngannelong (Hanging Rock), a sacred gathering place for Dja Dja Wurrung, Taungurung and Wurundjeri Traditional Owners, for a mammoth day of music on November 27.

Featuring the likes of Baker Boy, BARKKA, Jess Mauboy, Dan Sultan, Thelma Plum and King Stingray, Briggs said with just eight hours of stage time to work with the issue was less about who to get but how to fit everyone in.

"It's just trying to find a balance, you know, and a man of all a taste and age and gender you want to try to have everyone as much as you can represented," he said.

"We're short of talented people to put on this bill."

Initially conceptualised and presented to Briggs by late record executive and promoter Michael Gudinski in 2020, the idea of a First Nations festival has been taken and run with by the rapper in the last 24 months.

He said celebration of Blak Excellence shirks political agenda, letting the talent speak for themselves in an environment open to all.

Arnhem Land rockers King Stingray. image provided

First and Forever is purely "about music", a world-class which stacks up catalogue however you define it.

"Nobody has to assign themselves to any kind of ideology to be part of this festival," Briggs said.

"It's rare that blackfellas get to have a stage that isn't somewhat politicised.

"If you remove that this is a first nations festival, that's a solid lineup.

"First Nations aside, just looking at it musically and in the sense of artistry, you can't fault it."

For the man behind the festival, the array of talent highlights a larger picture; an industry reshaping itself through natural progression and appetite.

"There's a whole new generation of punters and listeners and consumers that are ready for black stories and Indigenous music, and it's not foreign to them and it's not this shoehorned approach," Briggs said.

"I feel like we're in this place now where everything is coming through organically.

"So it's not just having to have positions and quotas.

"People are ready, and it shows in this in this lineup and how it's received."

As for Briggs jumping on stage and joining in on the day, only those there on the day will know for sure.

"Should wander on stage maybe, I'm never far from a microphone," he said.

"We'll see.

"Stranger things have happened."

Tickets to First and Forever are available online.

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