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The New Locals: Genesis Owusu

Above all, Canberra’s rising rapper values proper arch support in his sandals.

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Genesis Owusu started writing music to brush off the haters. He was in Year 7. Fast forward a little to the release of 2017’s Cardrive EP and a handful of singles, this year sees him hitting his stride. And we’re not even six months in.

At just twenty years old, Genesis has had tracks produced by Hiatus Kaiyote and, most recently, The Free Nationals’ Callum Connor. He’s played sets alongside Noname, Amine, and Sampa The Great. Music runs in the family: Genesis’s brother is rapper, Citizen Kay. When the urge struck, they’d collaborate as The Ansah Brothers. While 2018 thrust Genesis’s solo project into the spotlight, his March release, WUTD + Vultures, hints that the best is yet to come.

Bridging the interstate gap, we connected over email to chat about A Tribe Called Quest, answering questions with questions, and the importance of sandal arch support.

How long have you been making music for? Do you remember the first track that you wrote?
I’ve been making music purposefully since about 2015, but I’ve been making it as a little hobby since about 2011, maybe late 2010. I’m pretty sure the first track I ever wrote was a song called “Can’t Knock Me Down” and it was trash. Like a little faux inspirational diss track to all my imaginary year 7 haters. The chorus went something like “you can’t knock me down, you can’t stop me, bullet through my back and you know I still rock, G, oh,” then something about “not stopping till I D-I-E, not stopping till I reach the T-O-P.” Goes kinda hard actually.

You’ve previously mentioned wanting to fuse genres. Is that something that you still want to pursue? What are you listening to a lot of lately?
Yeah of course. I think the pursuit is less of one to just fuse genres for the sake of it, and more of one to just create sounds that are authentically me without worrying about the boundaries of genre. My recent listening on Apple Music and Spotify is looking like JPEGMAFIA, D’Angelo, Fela Kuti, Solange, Tierra Whack, Michael Jackson, Future (DS2-era Future), and a bunch of disco playlists.

What’s the craziest time you’ve had at a gig?
All my shows go pretty crazy. But I did a show in Wollongong recently with Sampa the Great, Confidence Man and DZ Deathrays, and I went into the crowd during Confidence Man’s set and I’m pretty certain I saw the beginning of a threesome. Wollongong Uni is a wild place.

Do you work with other producers much? In your opinion, who is doing the best work in Australia currently?
I can’t really produce very well yet so all my work so far has been in collaboration with other talented producers. Simon Mavin and Perrin Moss from Hiatus Kaiyote are monsters musically; they’re just consistently making next level shit. They produced my songs ‘Sideways’ and ‘Awomen, Amen’ as well as some other stuff we haven’t put out yet. Also, we haven’t released anything yet, but I’ve done some sessions with Melbourne artist Harvey Sutherland and the fruits of that were crazy, he’s on some next level shit too.

‘WUTD’ was produced by The Free Nationals’ Callum Connor. How did you get in touch?
I was doing a show in Brisbane in a little pub, probably wouldn’t hold more than about 200 people. I walk into the venue and I swear I see some guy who looks like Moses Sumney at the door. To preface, I was supposed to see Moses Sumney at the Opera House the day before, but halfway through the drive from Canberra to Sydney my car broke down and I had to get towed back to Canberra. I realise the guy at the door is Moses Sumney and I’m clearly shook. As the night goes on, I see Mac Demarco as well as the members of The Free Nationals walking around this little pub too. I realised it was around the time of the Laneway Festival circuit and I guess the festival was in Brisbane the next day. Anyway, I do my show, they all say it was fire, and Callum tells me that when I’m in LA next we’re linking up. And you can guess the rest.

What’s the best part about the Canberra music scene?
Probably the unity and the camaraderie; it feels like there’s a general notion where if one of us wins, we all win, so everyone’s down to support and look out for one another.

Best movie you watched recently? What was your favourite part about it?
The last movie I watched was Us, the Jordan Peele one. I loved it, I saw it twice. This might be weird but my favourite part is probably the little skittering sound the tethered made when they crawled around. Wild. Also the fact that the tethered uniform looks similar to my new tour uniform. Mine is better though, the tether sandals don’t look like they had very good arch support.

What’s the first album you ever bought? Did you save up for it? How old were you?
The first album I ever bought was Born Sinner by J Cole. In the lead up to the release he kept saying that if the album did bad, him and his mum would have to go back to working at the post office, so I felt bad. I would’ve been like 15 at the time, and before that album I just used to pirate everything. Sorry. About two months later I bought my first physical album; a vinyl of A Tribe Called Quest’s Low End Theory. That’s still one of my favourite albums.

Last item of clothing you bought?
A pair of sandals and a red turtleneck for my new on-stage uniform. I’ve got a new live concept that’s going to be super tight.

Is there an album on the horizon?
Who knows what the future holds?

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