Ziggy Ramo’s Black Thoughts
Time Out says
Stream a live performance that will make you smile, dance, cry and applaud
A years back, Sydney-based hip-hop artist and First Nations man Ziggy Ramo recorded his powerful debut album, Black Thoughts. Then, worrying that white Australia wasn’t ready to listen to his searing take on institutional racism, the deep and lasting scar of our colonial history and the brutal weight of intergenerational trauma, he quietly shelved it.
When the Black Lives Matter movement sparked marches across the globe in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in the US, including boosting the huge movement here against Indigenous deaths in custody, he let it loose last year. NME heralded him as having “made 2020’s most important Australian album – five years ago”.
It almost never happened, Ramo says. “When I wrote this album, I didn’t think I’d be alive to see it released. It’s surreal to think that I’ll now get to put this message on such an iconic stage. I’m humbled to be allowed to share my story on Gadigal Country. I hope this performance can create further conversations that Australia needs to have. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.”
With an Aboriginal and Solomon Islander father and a mother of Scottish heritage, he was born in Bellingen, NSW, and brought up across Arnhem Land and Perth. His voice is incredible, and the message he brings to bear, and the personal hurdles he has overcome to sing it out loud, underline the album’s importance. Baring his soul on Instagram when it dropped, Ramo revealed he wrote it in hospital while he was in a “a dark space”, but that it was “very healing for me.”
He could not hold it back a moment longer, he continues. “I wish it was dated. I wish there was no need for it. But unfortunately, it’s more relevant than ever and I refuse to wait any longer. Racism isn’t an American issue. It is everywhere. Australia is built on it.”
Now you can soak up the strength of this hymn to love and compassion, and resistance to dispossession, thanks to Ramo’s collaboration with the Sydney Opera House. He performed the album live from the Joan Sutherland Theatre stage to an empty crowd, backed by a ten-piece band with brass and strings. It was accompanied by sumptuous animated visuals by Kamsani ‘Kambarni’ Bin-Salleh (2018 WA Young Person of the Year).
You can listen in on the Opera House's Stream platform now. Check out his directorial debut too, in the music video for his single 'Little Things' feat. Paul Kelly.
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