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Kobie Dee: The Lyrical Alchemist

Gomeroi artist Kobie Dee weaves narratives of empowerment and resilience, reflecting on systemic challenges while celebrating Indigenous strength through his evocative music.

It’s got me thinkin’ while I’m makin’ this, we plan funerals before we plan eightieths / ‘Cause you’re expected to die young if you’re Indigenous, the poison’s in the food and the substances that they’ve given us / They put our Elders on a ball and chain, stop their kids from learning culture, now we think it’s shame / Took our fathers, never knew if they’d be seen again, and wonder why there’s deadbeat dads, a generation’s pain

In Kobie Dee’s latest anthem ‘Statistic’, each verse delivers a potent narrative, laying bare the unjust realities for many First Nations people. The Gomeroi man and Bad Apples Music signee invites listeners into a world where his words serve as a mirror, reflecting systemic violence parallel with grave optimism. Raised in Maroubra in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, Kobie is blazing a trail of triumph against all odds.

“I’m a father first before I’m any of those things,” Kobie shares with a smile after I recount a few of his career accolades. Navigating the music landscape with unwavering versatility, Kobie supported Joey Bada$$ on his 2023 Australian tour and, more recently, Greentea Peng at her Gadigal show earlier this year, making a powerful imprint in the international scene on home soil.

As one of the country’s most talented storytellers with acclaimed lyrical comparisons to J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar, it’s no surprise that Kobie has been rapping since he was just ten years old.

His spine-tingling latest track was birthed after a conversation with producer Jayteehazard. “After a studio session, I was yarning with him about the thought of going to jail as a young fulla, and how it shouldn’t be normal for a young [Aboriginal] kid to feel like they might end up in jail,” recounts Kobie.

Jaytee encouraged Kobie to write it down, and that was when the untapped energy started flowing.

“It was one of those tracks that once I started, I couldn’t stop. I started thinking about incarceration rates and our health, and how statistics say we are going to die much younger because we’re Indigenous. These things are very real for me. So many Uncles and Aunties [of mine] have passed away at such a young age due to health issues. [One of the reasons is] because our bodies still aren’t used to a lot of the introduced sugars”, Kobie laments.

“Suicide is a massive thing too. In the track, I speak about 10 people I know, but the number is even higher now since I wrote it.”

These stark partial realities are all too familiar for many First Nations people, and Kobie reflects on the opportunity it provides for others to learn and enact change.

“Having [Statistic] out there, people are going to learn from this. I know a lot of people aren’t ready to hear these kinds of topics. But I feel like it needs to be out there. I think now more than ever, a lot of people are willing to learn more.”

It’s clear Kobie uses music as a form of transcendence through adversity. He has tapped into its visceral ability to provide a deep sense of healing, with a handful of his darkest experiences flickering across his chilling tracks’ About A Girl and Jody.

“Listening back to [my music] is the most healing. It’s kind of like talking to myself, you know. When I wrote Father’s Eyes it was during a time when I was questioning myself as a father,” Kobie laments. “There was a lot of emotion in me when I wrote that song, but then listening back to it, especially after watching the video clip and all that stuff, I look back and think ‘look how far I’ve come’.”

Throughout our conversation, we reflect on the trailblazing impact of the likes of The Last Kinection, and Shakaya to name a few, who paved the way for First Nations artists today. Kobie ruminates on the broader purpose of his music, and the legacy he wants to leave, joining a growing list of First Nations artists who have defied glaring statistics that inspired him from the beginning.

“I want young Blackfullas to see me and believe in themselves. Everything that I gave a hundred percent of my attention and dedication to led me somewhere or taught me something,”

“And I think that’s the biggest thing I want to push for young people; if you want to do something, give it your all. You’re going to either end up somewhere with it or you’re going to learn a lot from it. And with that knowledge, you can pass it on to other people. That’s the kind of legacy I want to leave behind.”

In 2022 Kobie embarked on his Gomeroi Nation Tour, performing in communities situated on the lands of his ancestors in Tamworth, Narrabri, Walgett, and Boggabilla, and at the Moree Block Party. “I’m not just telling my story, I’m telling our story,” Kobie declares when I ask him how performing explicitly for mob at these events differs from mainstream festivals.

“I know everyone there is going to relate in some way to my tracks. I have a deep sense of pride being able to share these stories because I know the people I’m talking to understand what I’m saying. It’s not that other audiences don’t get it, it’s just more of a connection,”

“Especially with young fullas. When I’m looking at them, it’s like I’m speaking to younger versions of myself… The Gomeroi Nation Tour was one of the best weeks of my life.”

And with no pretence, Kobie’s mastery aligns with his own definitions of success, sharing that success starts much closer to home.

“I’m just trying to be successful in being the best Dad I can be, and the best partner I can be. Success starts here. I feel so happy. We’ve got our little family. I would love to get to the point where I can buy my family a house and where my Mum and partner don’t have to work. And obviously I love music. I want to create as much music as I can.”

Continuing his important legacy in passing knowledge onto others and giving back to the community that raised him, Kobie will soon open a music studio in Maroubra. This creative space embodies a culmination of his vision, and the opportunities he sought after when he was younger. And, it’s confirmed that we can expect a lot more music from the lyrical alchemist in the months to come!

Follow Kobie Dee here for more.

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