Staying Conscious with Rapper Zeadala
Rapping with the intention to create change, Sydney MC Zeadala is a conscious rapper. Her values and beliefs send a clear message with her music, from political lyrical content to creating awareness of the systemic influences of the world. Her words come out of love and respect from everyday frustrated citizens. Her latest single ‘Your Hands’ highlights just this, speaking about the Australian disappointment and distrust of almost every national institution at an all time high which is prevalent even more today with the awful stunt at that just happened at the Opera House.
We sit down with Zeadala and chat about why we should change the way we ‘process’ refugees, what it’s like growing up as a mixed-race child in Australia and how she got into political rap.
You rap about political issues, what inspired you to speak out?
Growing up, I was always interested in what was happening politically. I was weirdly aware of political parties, leadership and what policies each were trying to push in regards to certain issues. At the age of 15 I was introduced to a band called System of a Down. They sang of war and genocide and the injustice of sending poor people to fight wars for the rich. Hearing them speak of such things as war continued to consume my father’s homeland in the middle-east over the years set off a light inside me. It was as if they spoke to me and said, “You don’t have to agree with the status quo, you don’t have to accept war as something that just happens, you have permission to disagree, to challenge ideas, to look at the full story”. I researched, I read, I wrote to make sense of it all and has it naturally become a part of my being as well as my music. I thought maybe I could be that spark for the next 15-year-old kid who wants to create some positive change in the world, but doesn’t really know where to start.
What is the most important thing people can do to create change?
To use one’s voice. To speak of fears, of love, of truths, or to speak up when we see injustice. There have been times when I have remained silent when I should have spoken out in solidarity. I think of those times whenever I feel fear around voicing my truth. Speaking out is challenging at times and requires one to be bold and brave. Think of the Maya Angelou’s and the Malala Yousafzai’s or even the Whitney Houston’s. The voice moves people in magical ways, could you imagine a world without it?
You come from two different nationalities, what was that like growing up in Oz?
Growing up in Australia as a mixed-race kid was quite challenging. As it was all I ever knew, I felt quite normal being raised by parents who come from two very different countries. We spoke Thai, Arabic and English at home, celebrated all the cultural holidays and ate shish kebab to green curry and some bangers and mash. Still, I never really fit anywhere. I found it weird that my peers were consumed by my being a-bit different. I am pretty sure I mostly thought about watching The Simpsons, lolly bags and riding my bike at Bicentennial park after school. But that may have been because my parents taught me never to judge anyone based on their colour, race or religion. And for that I am so grateful. Now I have amazingly beautiful friends who come from all over the world and my life could not be any more colourful or rich. How lucky am I?
If there was one thing you could change about our current system, what would it be?
That’s a hard one. There are so many things I would change. However, given the severity and brutality of the situation I would definitely change our current system of ‘processing’ refugees and asylum seekers. Over a hundred children who have fled war with their families are being held on Nauru prison by our government. Some have developed Traumatic Withdrawal Syndrome and have lost the ability to walk, eat or talk. I can’t imagine having to flee war to arrive at something that would cause me to live with complete hopelessness. It’s heartbreaking. What these people on Manus and Nauru need is immediate medical attention and a system that will fulfil their basic human rights.
How did you and Mack Fyah work together?
Mack and I met at a gig at Glebe, and began collaborating with Fermi soon after. It was fairly effortless as our music, passions and philosophy fit together like “Yo fam, where you been my whole musical life?!” I featured on some of Mack Fyah’s tracks before we arrived at my first single release ‘Vulnerable.’ It was from then I knew I wanted to create more with these amazingly talented dudes and we did just that, which led to my second single release of ‘Your Hands.’
What other projects are you working on?
I am currently working on my EP which is set to release early next year. It is being produced by Fermi and is a body of work that has been in the making for a little while and something I think people will really gravitate towards sonically. It holds some darkness, some light, and something that is very much representative of my life and the duality that governs it.
What stimulates your soul?
A dip in the ocean. There is nothing that stimulates my soul more than a swim in the ocean, it’s totally my element (even though I am a Gemini). I am home, and feel so invigorated by the salt water it just touches my soul in a way that is a bit hard to explain. If I ever feel overwhelmed and drained of energy by that fast paced Sydney life, I visit the sea and I just come alive.