- READ MORE: Ziggy Ramo is the Indigenous rapper who made 2020’s most important Australian album – five years ago
The show opened to scenes of an eerily empty Sydney Opera House, with Brendan ‘Japangardi’ Kerin, a representative from the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, performing a smoking ceremony and songs of country before Ramo took the stage.
When he did, he was dressed in a dark green tracksuit reminiscent of a prison uniform, and his neck and wrists were bound with chains, symbolic of the incarceration and oppression of First Nations people.
Ramo was backed by a ten-piece band for the concert, which saw him perform powerful renditions of songs from ‘Black Thoughts’. Animated illustrations designed by Kamsani Bin Salleh, known professionally as Kam Barni, provided visuals for the spoken word and instrumental sections from the album.
The show felt more like a piece of performance art than just a livestreamed gig, with Ramo becoming visibly emotional and passionate at times. Upon finishing ‘April 25th’ he fell to the floor crying and screaming “I can’t breathe”, echoing the words expressed by Black victims of police brutality.
Watch the full performance below:
Speaking of the show when it was announced earlier this month, Ramo said in a statement, “It’s surreal to think that I’ll now get to put this message on such an iconic stage.”
“I’m humbled to be allowed to share my story on Gadigal Country. I hope this performance can create further conversations that Australia needs to have. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land,” he said.
Ramo released ‘Black Thoughts’ in June, to coincide with the Black Lives Matter marches that were happening around the country at the time. In an Instagram post, he explained the story behind the album and revealed that it had been completed five years prior, in 2015.
“I wrote this album while I was hospitalised,” he wrote in June. “I was in a dark space and on suicide watch. It was my obituary.”
“I wanted to document my thoughts so that our stories could be heard after I was gone. With the love and support of family and friends I was able to rediscover hope. The album was very healing for me, but I never put it out because I knew as a country we weren’t ready to listen.”
Read the full post below.
Ramo recently appeared as a panellist and performer on ABC’s Q+A. He played a live rendition of ‘Stand for Something’, after being told by the broadcaster that his original song choice, ‘April 25’, was “not appropriate”.