When it comes to racialized discrimination and injustice, silence is violence – and that makes Sydney-based hip hop and freestyle artist Ziggy Ramo the roaring sound of peace. Since his first release in 2016, Ramo’s razor-sharp lyricism and effortlessly cool musical talent have positioned him as an essential voice in Australia’s national conversation.
Born to an Aboriginal and Solomon Islander father and a mother of Scottish heritage in Bellingen, NSW, and brought up across Arnhem Land and Perth, Western Australia, Ramo – whose full name is Ziggy Ramo Burrmuruk Fatnowna – defies categorisation.
In music and life, he’s an activist, but he’s much more than that. With feet firmly planted on the ground, Ramo somehow rises above the fray. From racial discrimination and toxic masculinity to trauma, mental health and even plain old love, Ramo is insightful, articulate and poignant with infectious energy to match. His musical influences go beyond old-school hip hop greats like Lauryn Hill and Yasiin Bey to include Aboriginal activists such as Charlie Perkins and Gary Foley. His songs reflect the fiery inner-monologue of a person carrying ancestral trauma while navigating the throws of contemporary life and interrogate issues typically eschewed with gripping humanity and grit.
Ramo’s new release, Black Thoughts (2019), is an extended version of the artist’s 2016 debut EP by the same name. Written while hospitalised and on suicide watch four years ago, the album is now a source of healing for Ramo – though, at the time, he thought of it as more of an obituary. He might have rediscovered strength and hope, but the conditions of systemic racism and injustice that brought him down in the first place are still at play. Recent attention on police brutality against people of colour and Aboriginal deaths in custody in both the United States and Australia bring his work on Black Thoughts into new focus.
“It was a full album back then, but I was holding onto it because I knew Australia wasn’t ready to listen. It was always a larger story. It’s my stories, my dad’s stories, his dad’s stories. All of ours. I wish it was dated. I wish there was no need for it. But unfortunately, it’s more relevant than ever and I refuse to wait any longer. This album is not the answer to the question. It’s a starting point for continued conversation. A lot of you have been asking what you can do to support change during this time. You can start by listening.” – Ziggy Ramo
Ziggy Ramo’s previous releases include debut EP Black Thoughts (2016), as well as singles Same Script (2017), YKWD (2017), A to Z (2018) and Pretty Boy (2019). In 2017, Ramo picked up West Australian Music (WAM) titles for Indigenous Artist of the Year and Hip Hop Artist of the Year, as well as triple J Unearthed Artist to Watch. He followed up with explosive live performances at Splendour in the Grass and Falls Festival in 2018. The full Black Thoughts album is a bold statement: Ramo is here to stay, and he won’t allow silence to continue its reign.