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Indigenous Hip Hop Stars Inspiring Communities And Breaking Down Stereotypes

Get your spirit in the land, it is sacred.

Our culture is strong and you can’t break it.

This is our land, and you can’t take it.

- Warmun Turkey Creek, Gija Don’t Stop

When the crew from Indigenous Hip Hop Projects rolls into an Aboriginal community, the excitement is evident.

Through the dust, camp dogs and grinning children, Dion Brownfield always has the same thought: I’m the luckiest man alive.

“The welcome we get to some of the most sacred country on earth is incredible,” Brownfield said.

“Day to day we get to experience such beautiful people and rich culture. It’s powerful.”

Brownfield founded IHHP to build up young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with hip hop, art and storytelling.

His team of rappers, choreographers, filmmakers and artists travel to remote communities and ask the elders and young people a simple question -- what story do you want to tell?

In Warmun, WA, they turned a Ngarranggarni or ‘dreamtime’ story about an eagle and a crow into a slick hip hop rap. In Normanton, QLD, they sang about tobacco and emotional wellbeing.

Next week, Brownfield and his team was going to a prison to work with inmates. To date they’ve connected with 55 communities.

“It’s about creating a project that’s mixing the old and the new with a strong focus on culture,” Brownfield said.

“The elders get an insight into modern, youth culture. Ideas about mobile phones, YouTube, consumer law, the world and how it affects them.

“Then for the young kids, the best part of this process is often hearing the messages and ideas that come out when we talk.

“We can delve into some pretty sensitive topics, some communities have their challenges, but we always look for the positives and a way to move forward.”

These clips regularly get more than 50,000 views on YouTube and Brownfield said they were breaking down stereotypes.

“Racism is very much alive here in Australia and the world. Instead of looking at the colour of people’s skin, try to see the spirit, soul and heart of our indigenous people and reach out to them.

“Things like alcohol and consumer wealth and the struggle to fit with whitefella ways have all really only been about for three generations.

“People need to step back and have a really good look with understanding and compassion.”

These music videos are a bright, brilliant insight into indigenous culture, but they also capture stories, dance and song from some language groups that only have a few fluent speakers left.

“Aboriginal people should be treasured,” Broadfield said.

“We have a lot to learn from them in terms of sustainability, their songlines, kinship and sense of community. I’d like to see people reach out.

“Go out bush to places where culture is really strong and you’ll see that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are the most beautiful people you’ll ever meet.”

This story was originally published on August 18, 2015.

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