African-Australian Rapper KUDZAI Takes Aim At Gang Stereotypes
The video for KUDZAI's 4 Deep In The Suburbs starts off menacingly — a police siren wails, and four figures clad in black walk down a quiet street.
- KUDZAI's song, 4 Deep in the Suburbs, was written in response to racist scaremongering
- The music video has racked up more than 150,000 views on Facebook
- The track was also added to new releases playlists curated by editors at Spotify and Apple Music
When the lyrics to the Melbourne rapper's new track — featuring his friend Tjay Gonera, aka Papi — kick in, it seems like the kind of nod to indulgence and violence that crops up often in hip hop.
"I see you got it all and I want it, fast cars and your woman," Kudzai Chirunga sings.
"As soon as you fall asleep I'm coming, and if I see lights I'm running."
But then there's a break, and you hear audio snippets of commercial TV news reports about the much-debated problem of crime in Melbourne and whether young African-Australians are overrepresented among offenders.
That's when Papi — who, like Chirunga, is Australian but was born in Zimbabwe — flips the perspective from the stereotype to what it's actually like to live as a young person of African descent in Melbourne right now.
"They love to judge by your colour, clothing and name," Papi raps.
"No matter what we are all perceived as the same."
The song was written as a response to what the pair see as the racist scaremongering that has targeted their community since news reports about African teens involved in crime began appearing last year.
The Federal Government has been pressuring its Victorian state counterpart to do something about what it says is an "out of control" problem with "African gang crime" in Melbourne.
But many Melburnians of African heritage, as well as Victoria Police, dispute that characterisation.
The pair released the song, under the name KUDZAI, earlier this month, and the video has already racked up more than 150,000 views on Facebook.
The track was also added to coveted new releases playlists curated by editors at Spotify and Apple Music.
"Being African and being affected by what the media is saying, watching how the public is responding to it, reading the comments in every video that's posted — it affects you," Chirunga told RN Breakfast about the inspiration for the song.
"You are reading these comments from the nicest-looking people — they could be your next door neighbour.
"And they are commenting things like, 'Kick them out of the country, send them all home'. Who's all? We are not all doing any of the crimes."
The pair say that, while they had experienced racism before, the current furore has made them feel further isolated.
Chirunga points out that neither he nor Gonera or their community condone the crime that is occurring.
"We all are on the same side as Australians," he says.
"We are Australians. We don't like what's happening.
"But at the same time, if it's overexaggerated and blown out of proportion, and it is now affecting us as a whole — the good ones who pay taxes and everything — then we are going to have to respond to it."