ALBUM TITLE: Reclaim Australia ARTIST: A.B Original VINYL STATUS: New With January 26th just around the corner, it may seem like a strange time to review the explosive debut album from ‘A.B Original’ – but perhaps it’s also fitting since this vinyl just arrived on my doorstep wearing its frank political heart defiantly on its sleeve. While it was released in late 2016, ‘Reclaim Australia’ is the long-overdue product of the masterstroke collaboration between Briggs (Adam Briggs) and Trials (Daniel Rankine), with a few special guests thrown in for good measure. If the title doesn’t give it away, this album is not a light-hearted ode to the sunburnt country; but I wouldn’t do it the disservice of merely calling it a protest album either. What we’ve got here is a social and political thriller dripping with insanely killer hooks and stomping beats. ‘Reclaim Australia’ eases in with ‘Foreward’, featuring the iconic voice of the legendary Archie Roach advising to “get in their faces”. Sure enough, Briggs and Trials do just that, launching into a no-holds-barred dissection of oppression, racism and inhumanity – confronting for some, but all too familiar for others. Amid the heavy messages on the album, there’s also a lot going on musically, with a nod to 80s and 90s West Coast rap and plenty of proof that Briggs and Trials aren’t just skilled rappers – they’re also extremely gifted songwriters, flowing seamlessly off one another with raw and roaring tracks like ‘2 Black 2 Strong’ packing emotional and technical fire. In light of the upcoming Australia Day celebrations next week, the album’s dominant single featuring Dan Sultan titled ‘January 26’ is a pretty timely tune. Whirling a spotlight on the brutal reality of that date for Indigenous Australians, Briggs and Trials also somehow straddle a fine line between defiance and humour, with lyrics praising lamingtons and slyly suggesting a date change for Australia Day: “I said how about March 8th? We can do it on ya nan’s grave/We can piss up, piss on her face”. Yes it’s a serious issue, but their ability to pack a punch and wink at the same time levels this from a simple protest to a viable challenge of the status quo. You can listen to this album one of two ways – for the musical triumph that it is, or as an educational middle finger to society. Whichever way you choose, it is undeniable that Briggs and Trials have managed to create the near impossible: ear candy with a conscience. It’s confronting and alarming and they’ve checked politeness at the door – and maybe it’s an approach well overdue.
LABEL: Golden Era Records GENRE(S): Hip Hop/Rap RELEASE DATE: November, 2016
BY TIANA SPETER