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The Iconic Edition
|9 Jul 2021|6 mins

NIMA Nominations Are IN: Let Us Catch You Up On Five Of Our Favourite Emerging First Nations Artists

Why stop after NAIDOC Week?

The nominees for the 2020 National Indigenous Music Awards have been announced and with Baker Boy and Jess Mauboy challenging for the big awards with distinction yet again, we take a look at some of the emerging and most exciting First Nations artists currently making their mark on Australian and international music. 

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The Kid Laroi
Let’s start at the top of the list. The Kid Laroi is a superstar hitmaker, the type of which we haven’t really seen in a number of years. This kid from Waterloo literally has two songs with Justin Bieber, and that’s without diving into his credits within the rap genre. For reference, a roll call of ‘who’s hot right now’ would surface similar results. As things stand, it would be a shock if The Kid Laroi doesn’t take home a few NIMAs next month.


A category where the aforementioned Kid Laroi might face a challenge is Album Of The Year. In our books, JK-47 and his full-length debut, Made For This, is a serious contender. It might be hard-sell (only because Laroi’s numbers are so far out of this world) but it’s an argument we took the pleasure in spruiking while ‘vertical consumption’ was still allowed in between Sydney lockdowns. With appeal that spans both old and new schools, rap fans can loosely class JK alongside Cordae and rhymers of that ilk. He’s a compelling storyteller with clever wordplay, capable of peppering any mic within spraying distance, over any type of beat. If you haven’t heard JK-47’s Like A Version cover of Tupac’s ‘Changes’, start there.


Hailing from Brisbane, Sycco (pronounced sigh-co) is a young gun with plenty to say as she effortlessly drifts between genres exploring spacey soundscapes. This comparison feels narrow, but if you like BENEE (which we do), you’ll love Sycco. She’s up for a number of awards next month, including Song Of The Year and Film Clip Of The Year with ‘Dribble’ and ‘My Ways’, respectively. Take your pick and enjoy the ride. Sycco is a star for today and tomorrow, and we’re eagerly looking forward to seeing where she takes things next. Luckily for us, her debut EP is just around the corner.


Like Sycco, Budjerah is another teen virtuoso that’s quickly making a name for himself,  and after first catching our ear with ‘Higher’ in the early stages of 2021, the young Coodjinburra man is showing absolutely no signs of slowing down. Fresh off the back of releasing his self-titled EP, Budjerah shared an extended version with live remixes featuring some very talented friends (cc: Matt Corby, JK-47, Stevan, Ngaiire and Ainslie Wills), before jumping on a track with PNAU which is still sitting pretty on the Australian Dance Charts. That one’s more of a night-time bop, but Budjerah generally makes mornings better like a certain Daniel Caesar or SZA might. Tap in.


Becca Hatch
Unfortunate to miss out on a nomination this year, that only speaks to the depth of quality currently emerging from our bubbling music scene. Still, Becca’s star is one steadily rising and has only been furthered lately by a pair of singles dropped in collaboration with fellow Western Sydney artists B Wise and Planet Vegeta. With R&B leaning into neo-soul sensibilities, Becca Hatch shines on both tracks alongside her talented rap adversaries while bringing them into a poppier realm. Expect to find her lining up hits with typically irresistible hooks at the NIMAs this time next year.

Declan Whelan
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