Dropping a tapestry of frustration, resilience, passion and anger woven with stories from Nowra, Yuin rapper Nooky releases his debut EP, Junction Court today.
The seven track EP is a journey painting an image of being a young, black artist living through grief, addiction and navigating the world we live in.
The project began after a visit back home to Nowra, NSW.
“My old man took me out to see some sites and [give] me lessons,” Nooky said.
“It gave me the direction, this would be the story of Nowra.”
The album drew on a local Dreaming story, of the white cockatoo flying through fire.
“The white cockatoo, Nyalwal flew through the fire and was badly hurt, injured and burned … but he made it out the other side. As he was flying over the river, he noticed his reflection and was horrified at what he saw, but when he returned to his community, the people celebrated him,” Nooky said.
“He went through the fire and experienced all that pain but he came out wiser, stronger, bigger, faster and matured. He was badly scarred, but he was a better version of himself.”
Honouring his home, Nooky titled the album after an iconic spot in Nowra.
“It was a place where me and the young ones would go, waiting for the Uncles to come out of the RSL. We would hear the rattling in their pockets, meaning they won up on the pokies. We’d get them for some money and go get a feed. It was a place where a lot of my memories live,” Nooky said.
“It’s always been about family and community for me, having this voice I have to make sure I’m doing this for them and doing it properly. Not sugar-coating anything, being honest, you get the bad as much as you get the good.”
Junction Court was created in response to grief after Nooky lost his cousin. Turning to substance to numb the pain, Nooky began the journey of healing – turning to music.
“Losing my cousin was hard, I turned to alcohol. This project is really my fight, I had to heal,” Nooky said
“It was hard to write, I got into music because of him so turning to music was hard.”
“Hip-hop for me was healing, it’s a vehicle. I get into the studio and put all my emotions into the microphone.”
Towards the end of the project, the realisation of his addiction become clear.
“It only really hit me when the project was almost done, and I was talking to a good mate saying I never used to drink, and since my cousin passed I’ve been drunk,” Nooky said.
“That was two years ago, when I said it out loud I realised that all that time I didn’t even notice what was going on.”
“I’m off the drink now. This process, I feel I had to hurt to get through it, hit the bottom to be able to climb back up.”
“It’s hard, I kept it covered up and away from my family. There is a lot of pressure to be a black artist. You always must be the good guy, the role model – it was hard to be going through that and putting that front up.”
“I think completing Junction Court is what fixed me. The song I wrote for [my cousin] was the last song I recorded on the project. I always knew I was going to do it, but it had to be the last one.”
Nooky found healing not only through his music, but in his family and culture, and hopes that he can inspire others.
“That story of the cockatoo going through the fire, that strength and resilience is something I want people to take from this.”
“This is my journey, it’s my life and it’s my truth. I know I’ll go back to this 20 years from now and remember these exact moments.”
The album begins and ends with the track Nowa Now, an intentional creative choice from the artist.
“I ended the project the same way as I started it because healing is a cycle. I’m still going through that fire, we aren’t at the end yet,” he said.
“But I guess we’ll have to wait for the next album to find out where it all goes from here.”
By Rachael Knowles