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Hip-hop heroes bring old-school love to Block Party

David Prestipino -

Ever-expanding circles of inclusion have been the hallmarks of the five Perth Festivals delivered by outgoing artistic director Iain Grandage.

From 2022's immersive song-and-dance inspired Noongar Wonderland, to the ground-breaking 2020 production of Hectate - a Noongar interpretation of Shakespeare's Macbeth - celebrating and connecting with a culture and language 45,000 years old has been at the heart of Mr Grandage's tenure.

For all the brilliant and breakthrough artists and productions Perth Festival has championed through its five Noongar-themed programs since 2020, perhaps the smallest and rawest event of all typified the connection and celebration Grandage sought to achieve through his tenure, which ends this year.

Noongar-Wongi hip-hop artist and activist FLEWNT'S inaugural Boorloo Block Party in 2022 was a roaring Festival success, with the second incarnation last year highlighted by the memorable performance of his young rapper son Inkabee - an artist in his own right who typifies the close-knit, inclusive nature of the Indigenous hip-hop community.

Last Saturday's third Boorloo Block Party installment at Rechabite Hall reached new heights from the get go, with Inkabee bringing the house to its feet early on, with the good feels continuing way past midnight, as the congregation of rappers convened on stage for one almighty finale, to the delight of the sweaty, smiling crowd of old and young, eager to keep hearing the beats.

Every local and interstate Indigenous rapper on the bill had the crowd reflective and enraptured, with J-Milla's impromptu cue for a dance-off on the dance floor a wild romp, while 3%'s powerful and playful set hit home, while the poignant and all-inspiring set from the night's final act JK-47, Triple J's 2020 Unearthed Artist of the Year, a highlight.

JK-47 - aka Jacob Paulson - has fought hard to repel the demands of record labels to find a way to rap as an independent artist, with his latest release Revision For Regrowth - the revelatory sophomore follow-up to 2020's acclaimed debut Made for This - testament to his perseverance.

Saturday's third Block Party, an all-Indigenous cast of rap and hip-hop artists, had hearts racing and heels jumping from the very first beat, a packed audience a sweaty, satisfied, connected crew throughout.

For Tweed Heads-based JK-47, his hip-hop contemporaries were like family while on the road, given he's spent considerable time away from his wife and young son after performing across Australia as part of February's Laneway Festival.

The tight bond these hip-hop heroes share was none more evident than seeing Paulson bop along to FLEWNT'S epic set (highlighted by the sunny new release 'Souwess' and soulful Black Boy, a song about growing up disadvantaged that took out Best Song and Best Hip Hop Song at the 2019 NAIDOC Music Awards), before casually conversing with fans and friends on the dance floor.

The good vibes kept vaporising as the all-star cast of rap royalty converged on stage for one almighty finale, a celebration apt for a crowd strongly connected and craving more.


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