ENTERTAINMENT

A.B. Original's Powerful Splendour Set Pays Tribute To Elijah Doughty 

'How do we unite when you keep killing our kids?'

24/07/2017 1:21 PM AEST | Updated 24/07/2017 2:03 PM AEST
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Australian rappers A.B. Original used their set at Splendour In The Grass to issue an emotional, incendiary call for justice for indigenous people, leading the crowd in chants and tributes while dedicating their set to Kalgoorlie teenager Elijah Doughty.

Doughty, 14, was run down by a driver while riding an allegedly stolen motorbike last year. His death sparked national outcry, and led to large protests and demonstrations in his hometown of Kalgoorlie.

In a court decision handed down on Friday, the driver who hit the teenager was acquitted of a charge of manslaughter, and instead found guilty of the lesser charge of dangerous driving occasioning death, and sentenced to three years; jail. This verdict, too, was met with widespread controversy, criticism and anger.

A.B. Original, made up of Indigenous rappers Briggs and Trials, have built their fearsome and critically acclaimed reputation on speaking about issues affecting Australia's aboriginal community, including actions of police and courts, deaths in custody, incarceration rates, Australia Day, and life expectancy and health problems.

In their highly-anticipated Splendour debut on Sunday, while other acts went heavy on confetti, smoke cannons and eye-popping light shows, A.B. Original went for a very simple stage backdrop: a picture of Elijah Doughty, blown up large on the big screen, the boy wide-eyed and smiling.

Through the set, the rappers repeatedly paused to talk about Doughty and the court system which they claimed had "failed" the Indigenous community, as well as leading the crowd in chants of "no justice, no peace", widely used by the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States.

Briggs and Trials also repeatedly changed lyrics in their songs to reference Doughty, including during a cover of Paul Kelly's iconic 'Dumb Things' -- with a guest appearance from Kelly himself -- as Trials rapped "this is going out to my brother Elijah that was failed".

Kelly and A.B. Original had previously collaborated on a cover of the song for Triple J's Like A Version, where Trials' original line, before changing it to reference Doughty, had mentioned the Don Dale detention centre.

In an interview with HuffPost Australia following their performance, the rappers expressed despair and disbelief at the sentence handed to the driver responsible for Doughty's death.

"When it comes to a situation like Elijah's, and the response and the reaction, like people trying to justify what happened because he allegedly stole a motorbike, that is indicative of Australia's relationship with Indigenous Australians," Briggs said.

"It's not lost on us for us to stand up there in front of a predominantly white audience and deliver a message that is really hard to hear. How do we unite when you keep killing our kids?"

Trials admitted Doughty had made a "mistake" but that it should not have ended with the teen losing his life.

"That's how you grow as a human, how you deal with those mistakes. That's what it's all about. Your rite of passage is literally f**king up until you figure out what is right and what is wrong," he said.

"I did some dumb shit when I was a kid. I do dumb shit as an adult. But that don't never justify someone's life being taken from them."

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