Here’s What Indigenous Artists Are Saying About This Triple J/Hottest 100 Mess
"We look forward to a day we can celebrate wholeheartedly the great music industry event with our peers and punters alike."
After years of increasingly frequent questioning and months of explicit campaigning from many listeners, triple j has announced it will not be changing the date of the 2017 Hottest 100.
“We’ve been aware of, and have been a part of, the discussions around January 26 for some time,” they said in a statement this afternoon. “Triple j is heavily involved in the growing dialogue around Indigenous recognition and perspectives on January 26. This is really important to us. We will continue to talk to Indigenous communities, artists and our audience about the date for the Hottest 100 in future years. In short: it’s under review.”
Today’s announcement was provoked by reports leaked to Pedestrian that the station had been “in serious talks” about whether or not they should move the date. It was revealed there had been numerous meetings between management, presenters, and select Indigenous artists about whether the annual celebration was appropriate on a day which many associate with violence and dispossession. These considerations were likely weighed against the logistical and political problems involved in a change, as well as backlash from the great number of listeners who want the event to remain as is.
Though it hasn’t been revealed who those Indigenous artists were, Briggs is definitely making his feelings known in the wake of triple j’s statement.
— BRIGGS AKA BIG SIGH (@BriggsGE) September 13, 2016
Earlier today, before the official decision was announced, Briggs told us he “appreciates the solidarity and leadership shown from both triple j and other artists [in the discussion of the issue]”. “We look forward to a day we can celebrate wholeheartedly the great music industry event with our peers and punters alike.”
That ‘we’ he uses is pretty telling; he’s certainly not the only one who feels this way. When asked for his thoughts on the issues, hip hop artist Jimblah who is frequently featured on the station told us, “Australia Day falls on day one British invasion”. “January 26 could never be a day of celebration. It’s a day of mourning. If there actually was anything to celebrate on that day, it could only ever be Black Australia’s survival of the atrocities we have and continue to endure.”
Despite this strong personal stance, he wasn’t inclined to pressure triple j into action.
“I’m not going to say triple j should or shouldn’t be doing this, all I can talk on is the impact it would have within our community,” he said. “There is a huge cultural shift happening at the moment where so many more Australians are beginning to gain a better understanding of the reality here. With a better understanding comes compassion. Compassion is key. I can only marvel at the thought of what this kind of monumental move could mean for all of us, especially our next generation.”
His statement was taken shortly before triple j announced their final decision.
Aboriginal rappers Nooky and Birdz also spoke out about the issue today telling BuzzFeed’s Allan Clarke they were squarely behind a move to change the date. “It would be a huge step forward for the blackfella population,” Nooky said. “The simple fact is I don’t fuck with Australia Day. Never have, never will. I listen to triple j on the regular, but not on that day I don’t.”
Though Birdz acknowledged a date change would be a largely symbolic move, he commended it as a “great move to show solidarity” and said it should be followed up with solid action with the community.
Solidarity and inclusivity were major themes of triple j’s statement this afternoon as they announced ongoing consultation would be taking place and their partnership with Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience would be continuing for another year. Listeners donated more than $100,000 to AIME last year which went towards helping Indigenous kids gain education and employment opportunities.
“We believe that together with a great organisation like AIME, triple j has a powerful opportunity and a responsibility to create a positive impact,” said triple j content director Ollie Wards.
Though there’s no denying triple j has both opportunity and responsibility on this issue, many are still unsatisfied with today’s announcement with a great deal of frustration being channelled into the hashtag #changethedate. One listener even suggested everyone band together to get A.B. Originals protest song ‘January 26’ to number one to send a “powerful statement” to the station.
It would be a hell of a lot better than Macklemore or Kings of Leon.
You can donate to AIME here.