Bad Apples Music Artist
Forever community-focused and proudly outspoken, Nooky is one of the most vital voices in the Australian music landscape. The proud Yuin rapper, producer and radio host has been championing Blak excellence for well over a decade, and come 2022, he's taking his mission even further. On January 26th, Nooky will launch a new, all-encompassing platform called 'We Are Warriors'. After first experiencing racism as a child, Nooky heard those three powerful words “we are warriors” from his mother, and those three words have informed his life trajectory ever since. "It instilled a fire inside of me, a sense of pride and this unimaginable desire to be successful," he says. "It gave me the push to defy all of the odds stacked against us." Now, We Are Warriors will become its own initiative highlighting prolific Indigenous excellence across music, fashion, sports and everything in between. It will begin as a content series, further evolving into a clothing line and workshops in Indigenous communities throughout the year.
Coinciding with the launch, Nooky will also be dropping his first single of the year entitled 'Run Dingo'. Sampling legendary Indigenous blues musician and activist Black Allen Barker, Nooky also borrows a poignant metaphor from Barker's original piece. "The lyrics in his song talk about the dingo culling’s and the price on their heads, drawing a comparison with blackfullas," he says. "Like Allen, I feel like there’s a price on our heads too, especially when we're being vocal about certain issues and topics."
'Run Dingo' contemplates the longstanding obstacles faced by Indigenous people, and Nooky personalises these issues by discussing the uncertain future for his children and his desire to break generational trauma. "Last invasion day, I was looking at my daughter and thinking, 'one day, someone is going to call you racist names and it'll hurt. One day you'll feel this divide. One day you'll be confused as to why the white kids celebrate this day, and your people don't'," he says. "This song brought me back to the essence of why I began to make music in the first place." Produced by frequent collaborator i.am.solo, 'Run Dingo' features a minimalist, atmospheric backdrop that allows Nooky's cathartic vocals to take centre stage, retaining a sense of poignancy on what remains a solemn day for Indigenous people.
Nooky's upcoming ventures will build upon his seemingly unstoppable momentum in recent years. In 2021, Nooky began his first tenure as a radio host on 'Blak Out', a new weekly radio program broadcast nationally on triple j. "It’s about Blak Australian music being at the forefront, and not being an afterthought," he says. "It’s a celebration of Indigenous excellence and a platform to drive our music, artists and communities." In an unwavering dedication to his hometown of Nowra, Nooky released two EPs in Junction Court and Lylebird Park, both named after locations in the city. On those projects, Nooky further implemented his no-holds-barred, hyperactive brand of rap. Working with acclaimed producers like i.am.solo and Mansus, Nooky's music combined intricate flows, sledgehammer social commentary and loads of South Coast slang. Despite his commitment to newer rap styles, tracks like 'Nowa Nowa' infused those sounds with traditional Indigneous storytelling; and furthering his message, songs like '432-0' addressed homegrown police brutality in the midst of a global Black Lives Matter movement.
Delving into fashion, 2021 also saw Nooky team up with cult label Geedup to start his own brand called Mission, producing streetwear garments with an Indigenous focus. Mission encapsulates Nooky's core ideals of perseverance and overcoming adversity, or as the brand's motto states more succinctly, "We don't jump hurdles, we run the fuck through 'em."
Growing up in Nowra, Nooky's younger days saw him surrounded by addiction, racism and a revolving door of relatives at the neighbouring Goulburn prison. As a teen, he found hip-hop through his older cousin Selway, and music became his healing process. "Music is where I let the warrior come out and protect myself," he says. "I had to fight the pain and turn it into supreme confidence. I could do and say whatever I wanted." Soon, Nooky made the move up north to Sydney to pursue his music career further, but still proudly represented Nowra with his assertive style. "Nowra is such a part of me, my upbringing and my Indigenous identity," he says. "We move different, we talk different down there. You get a sense of pride, loyalty, honesty and belonging, plus the famous Nowra 'no fucks' attitude."
Nooky soon reached international ears too, traveling to the United States where he collaborated with Taboo of Black Eyed Peas, and even interned at Harvard to work on a Broadway production. He is also a member of Muggera Cultural Enterprise, a family group that shares Indigenous culture through traditional dance, song and art; performing on global stages including the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the Rugby World Cup. Back home, Nooky won Australia Council's prestigious Dreaming Award at the National Indigenous Arts Awards in 2016, and that same year, he signed to the Bad Apples imprint. Alongside his new labelmates like Briggs and Kobie Dee, Nooky performed at mainstay events including Falls Festival, BIGSOUND and a historic Indigenous showcase at the Sydney Opera House, dubbed "the blackest house party in the whitest building in Australia" by the ABC. Staying true to his community, Nooky also threw 'Coastchella' in 2020, a fundraiser show featuring OneFour and B Wise that raised funds for South Coast areas affected by the bushfires.