Smash a Kangaroo

As I’ve recounted in the stories of my travels around the Ngaanyatjara lands in Western Australia lately, the music scene there is alive and well, thanks to some dedicated guys equipped with Macintosh computers, Garageband, and the desire to show the young men of these communities how to record and distribute their own music. I’ll have a full report on some new CD’s coming out of that part of the country later on, but today I want to share news of another initiative that’s resulted in a lively new single called “Smash A Kangaroo.”

The inspiration this time comes from an American DJ and hip-hop artist who goes by the tag Diplo, which I understand is a shortened form of Diplodocus. Diplo toured extensively in Australia earlier in 2007, and was impressed and intrigued by the prevalence of hip-hop in indigenous communities that he visited along the way. I’ll admit to feeling the same way on my first visit to Maningrida a couple of years ago when I head 50 Cent blaring from boomboxes around the town and kept meeting kids with Tupac t-shirts to complement their Sydney Swans caps.

While he was in Australia, Diplo started working at two ends of the country, in the “jungle” of Maningrida (remember, he’s a white boy from Philadelphia) and at a juvenile justice facility in Sydney. Interested in finding ways to promote regional variations of hip-hop around the world, Diplo set up a recording studio in Sydney, and used his time in Maningrida to record the first single for his new “Heaps Decent” project. Proceeds from the sale of “Smash a Kangaroo” will go to support the Sydney recording facility, so I’d urge you to head straight to iTunes and purchase a copy for the low, low price of only $0.99 (US$–it’s similarly priced and available from every other national iTunes stored I’ve checked, including Australia, the UK, France, and Germany). The song is a mix of rapping, scratching, sampled didj, and bush tucker–you haven’t heard anything like it before.

You can find out more from the Heaps Decent website and from their MySpace page. The latter lets you listen to “Kangaroo” for free (but don’t let that stop you from making a contribution to the cause at iTunes). There’s also a wonderful, funny video that shows footage from the Maningrida workshops. The second half of the video is an inspired mashup of shots of young indigenous kids dancing layered over the surf classic “Wipeout.” It’s a hoot and a half.

Check out Heaps Decent on MySpace Diplo brainstorming with the Maningrida mob

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