A.B. Original – the duo of Yorta Yorta rapper Briggs and Ngarrindjeri rapper and producer Trials – have returned with their first new music in over four years. It’s a song called ‘King Billy Cokebottle’ that they describe as a “teaser track” ahead of an “official” single that will arrive in November.
The song is named after the stage name of Louis Beers, the 1970s Australian comedian who frequently wore blackface to impersonate Indigenous people. As with much of their work, the duo take incendiary aim at the both the history and ongoing impact of colonisation and racism in this country.
“All I speak is facts, all I bleed is Black / All I see is red when we speaking ’bout the flag,” Trials raps on his verse. “Why the fuck would I welcome the oppressor?” Briggs asks on his own. “When four out of five say we’re lesser.”
Elsewhere on the track, the rappers reference Beers, as well as other instances of blackface in Australia – such as white Australian comedian Chris Lilley’s character, or a Hey Hey It’s Saturday skit from 2009 that offended special guest Harry Connick Jr. on air. Watch the accompanying video below:
“‘King Billy Cokebottle’ drags an ugly side of Australian Larrikinism to the table; where the joke’s on us,” the duo say of the new song in a statement. “We get told to get over it and to fit in with ‘Australian Values’. That’s Assimilation, and that is essentially asking blackfullas to not exist.
“Don’t ask us to be ‘one of the good ones’. If we have to feel the anxiety and discomfort of living in a country that wishes we weren’t here, so do you.”
‘King Billy Cokebottle’ marks the first new song from the duo since their 2018 standalone single ‘Blaccout’. Before that, they released debut album ‘Reclaim Australia’ in 2016, featuring the single ‘January 26’ and collaborations with the likes of the late Archie Roach and Gurrumul along with Thelma Plum and others.
In 2017, they appeared on triple j’s Like a Version segment, delivering a cover of Paul Kelly‘s ‘Dumb Things’ joined by Kelly himself. In April of this year, A.B. Original revealed they were making new music again, with Briggs tweeting: “back in the studio; airing grievances. Everyone can get it this season.”
That news came a month after A.B. Original performed as a duo for the first time since 2020 as part of this year’s WOMADelaide Festival in Adelaide, bringing out Courtney Barnett, Mo’Ju, Birdz, Plum and more during their set.
Both artists have released solo music in the years since dropping ‘Reclaim Australia’. Briggs released an EP titled ‘Always Was’ in 2020, and Troy Cassar-Daley collaboration ‘Shadows’ the following year. Trials’ debut single, ‘i’m a fucking wreck’, arrived in 2020.