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  • Vasili Papathanasopoulos


Black Noise is out now!

Image: Supplied.

South-African born, Meanjin (Brisbane)-based rapper, S.A.B has dropped his debut EP, Black Noise. To celebrate the release, the musician is taking MILKY through the EP, track-by-track!

"My Black Noise is different to the next person's Black Noise, but as our lives move forward, somewhere along the way our frequencies cross-over" the rapper shares of Black Noise. To celebrate the release, S.A.B. will host a hometown headline show, taking to the stage at Blackbear Lodge on Sunday 15 May. Tickets are on sale now!


I was heavily inspired by Deante’ Hitchcock’s “I remember” before writing this intro-track. It was uplifting to hear Deante’ list everything he never had and/or achieved in life, only to show that he ended up exactly where he wanted to be. Although my endeavour was to set the tone of the EP with this song, more importantly, I was trying to evoke the same emotion that I came to be inspired by so that someone could walk away feeling the same way I did. Also, shoutout to my first car - 1998 Toyota Camry CSi.


This will sound like blasphemy to many songwriters, but I never write love songs. I’m just not good at them. Of course, with my first attempt, I wanted to dive into the nuances of commitment in inter-racial relationships. I’ve found from my own experience that when struggles overlap between races in a romantic relationship, it brings both parties closer together and makes you want to fight even harder for what you have. This was the last song written on the EP because it was the hardest concept to explain in 2 minutes and 40 seconds.


I first fell in love with sneakers at the age of 14, but when I got my first job at 17 years old, it was a wrap. I’d be copping a new pair fortnightly like I was paying car insurance. As global as sneaker culture is today, it’s important to remember that it is historically rooted in expression by a community that was otherwise voiceless - Black Americans of the 1960s and 70s. I’ve always wanted to make a record that paid homage to that and last year was the first time I felt like I could do it in an authentic way. I made the guitar loop, layered some ensemble vocals with Coco and added some stanky drums. Oftentimes it takes me a good couple of hours to write A1 lyrics, but it all came pouring out within minutes of the beat being made. I knew then that this would be a single for the EP.


Traveling across the Captain Cook Bridge here in Meanjin made me realise “As a society, we commute across a motorway named after a colonial invader without batting an eye. That’s mind-boggling”. I actually mapped out the first few bars of verse 1 in my head while driving over the Captain Cook Bridge. That set the tone and energy for the rest of the track. After making the beat, tracking mine and Coco’s vocals, I still felt there was a missing piece. That’s when called on musician and songwriter, Tom,who layered these in-your-face guitar power chords and a thunderous guitar solo. I made this track as an adrenaline-fueled reminder that First Nations People and other people of colour are not fighting against a city of statues, we are fighting against what those statues and structures represent - entrenched racism and warped Australian History.


This track is one of my favourites off of the EP. I wrote it after reading “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot. Prior to this, I hadn’t had a physical book in my hands since 2019. When I felt incapable of expressing the intersectionalities between Bla(c)kness and womanhood, as well as Bla(c)kness and manhood, this biography came into my life and pretty much wrote the song for me. If you take anything away from this track, it’s that with centuries of Bla(c)k resilience, comes Bla(c)k exhaustion and sadness. The chorus embodies this sentiment most clearly. I urge you to check in on your friends who have to wake up everyday with no choice but to deal with a system built to disenfranchise them.


This is an ode to my friends, past and present. Funnily enough I wrote this at a time where I was cutting ties with some homies from my hometown. It was bittersweet because although some friendships were irreparable back home, the relationships I cultivated in Meanjin were a breath of fresh air. If I didn’t move here and meet the people I’ve met, I would’ve never thought it was possible to make a studio in my bedroom, record and publish my own music, for it to then end up on national radio and television. I owe my friends everything.


See, when I step into a room, my skin speaks for me before I even say a word. That right there is a subconscious perception that lingers as a result of some divisive narratives about Bla(c)k people. I wanted to shift that mentality to show that Bla(c)k people travel through life at their own frequency, making their own #blacknoise, but at the end of the day we prove that we are confident, capable and brave human beings. I had two verses for the song, but only one of them really hit home for me, so I called on rapper, poet and producer, Sachém for a feature. This is what he had to say about the track…“Sabby sent me a bunch of beats to possibly collaborate on and, to be honest, it really could’ve been any of the tracks I wrote to. But, this sound stood out to me as being something different and [it] had a message that represents me. This ain’t arrogance, this is confidence!”


In June, 2020 this beat was made and song was written. It subsequently conceptualised the EP. I had the three verses with the switch up ready to go, however the hook I came up with wasn’t the greatest. Melrose. was one of the first people I showed the song to and I’m glad I did. He told me the energy of the song dropped too low at the hook and so I tried writing 2 different versions. Eventually I called on Coco to solve my problem. We sat down and spent an hour collaboratively writing a new chorus, tracked the vocals and the song was finished. It’s a long and heavy song, but to expect expressions of art about systemic racism to be comfortable is a delusion. With this final song, I aimed to incite people towards genuine change for First Nations People. I know a select few will listen to this song and an even smaller proportion will take onboard what’s been said. But as I rap in the last verse, “I’m not changing the planet with the sh** that I rap, be tangible with your actions and the world will react”.

Black Noise is out now!


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