When the Shepparton rapper and label owner was asked to put on a show at the Sydney Opera House, Briggs didn't hesitate. “To be able to take over such an iconic building with a young, fresh, new wave of Australian musicians who are all Indigenous, and people of colour...” he says. “It’s gonna be something else.”
Briggs’ Bad Apples House Party, on May 30, will see the Yorta Yorta man take to the Joan Sutherland Theatre stage alongside friends from his Indigenous hip-hop label, Bad Apples Music, including up-and-comers the Kid Laroi, Jesswar and Rebecca Hatch.
Briggs’ hope for the night is for everyone to walk away thinking that they’ve just witnessed something they haven’t seen before. “I just try to create those moments that people remember, both artists and punters,” he says.
Special guests include exciting duo Electric Fields, in what is shaping up to be a night filled with powerful lyrics, hard-hitting performances and an unapologetic sense of purpose and pride that only the Bad Apples collective could bring.
Known for his own style of political activism, Briggs, who is also a comic writer for The Simpsons creator Matt Groening and a regular contributor to ABC’s The Weekly and Black Comedy, recently created his first billboard-sized joke.
After driving past a billboard in his hometown promoting One Nation’s Pauline Hanson, declaring that the senator has “the guts to say what you are thinking”, Briggs couldn’t pass up the opportunity to let her know exactly what was on his mind.
It's a real billboard. pic.twitter.com/FVg6LI9X26— The Weekly (@theweeklytv) May 1, 2019
“I thought if she can have a billboard, why can’t I? I took it to The Weekly and we got together on the plan.” Purchasing the opposite side of Hanson’s billboard, Briggs and team retorted with “I’m thinking I can’t wait to see the back of Pauline Hanson.”
Having the opportunity and the platform to be able to respond to racism and divisiveness is something that will likely always be a part of what Briggs brings to the conversation. “I think it’s indicative of the atmosphere that the media and these political parties let breathe. It’s nothing new, it’s just what it is. I’m not surprised.”
It’s also no surprise to Briggs that some people took offence to his latest offering, ‘Life is Incredible’ – his first solo release in four years, after a hugely successful collaboration with Trials as hip-hop duo A.B. Original. ‘Life is Incredible’ is a dark, comic take on the fact that Indigenous Australians’ life expectancy is much shorter than the average Australian.
It’s a complex issue, but a simple message. “The video clip is what really drives [the message] home. So many people feel attacked by the phrase ‘white privilege’ because they feel like it’s assuming they have had an easy life, but what we are talking about is how disadvantage for blackfullas is a completely different thing from the benefits they think we get – these imaginary numbers that they cook up. And so the whole concept of this was to take the extreme fact – the mortality rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders – and then simplifying it, saying ‘if we die earlier, we should be retiring earlier’.
“If this was another race of people, or another section of our community or society that was dying at this rate, it would be front page news. If it was Australian cricketers...“ he says with a wry chuckle, “You know what I mean, people would lose their minds.”
Briggs’ Bad Apples House Party takes over the Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House on Thu May 30. 7.30pm. $29-$59.