Artist Spotlight - Narli
Updated: Nov 11, 2021
Jannali Doncaster, better known by his stage name Narli, is an up-and-coming hip-hop artist hailing from Bundjalung Yaegl land. Narli’s discography fosters a deep connection to his ancestry, with his impressive flair for weaving stories through his music acting as a way of paying homage to his ancestors who have utilised storytelling as a tool for maintaining culture for hundreds of years. It is this connection to his people and kin that allows Narli to articulate and perfect his craft in order to inspire others. Through the powerful platform he has built, Narli has allowed similar artists to take a plunge and to create music as their true self, not in the image expected by society.
Back in 2015, a then 18-year-old Narli was one of nine young Indigenous people who were chosen to take part in an Indigenous Arts Mentorship program aimed at partnering the participants with an industry professional to assist them in turning their dream into a career. Narli was partnered with Live Nation’s AJ McFadden, who mentored Narli on understanding the significance of building music not just as a craft, but as a business. This wholistic learning experience nurtured Narli in his artistic pursuit and ensured that he continued on his current path.
Narli has released a vast array of music, including two 3-track EPs; 2018 debut ‘A Moment In Time’ alongside producer Hazy and February’s ‘Midnight’. ‘A Moment In Time’ represented Narli’s first solo piece of music away from his group ‘Indigenoise’, a collective made up of poets, artists, producers, musicians, practitioners and creatives alike. The group was centred on being a voice for their varying peoples whilst giving these artists a chance to reflect on the lessons they have undertaken in life.
Every track Narli has released has a purpose and a message that he is trying relay to his audience. It’s this unwavering passion that truly separates him from other artists and allows him to be a constant idol for those in his community. Moreover, Narli acts as a catalyst for change in the Indigenous community, thus continuing to show the rest of Australia what he and many others have to offer.
"I'm trying to create music that's timeless"
- Interview with MTV
Narli’s video collaboration with rapper JK-47 on ‘Land’ is a raw and influential piece that draws on both of their cultures for inspiration. The video depicts both artists’ undeniable connection to country, with the video centred around different tribes coming together through the use of a ceremonial dance. It perfectly complements the song as both Narli and JK-47 switch vocals and keep the audience glued to the screen. In addition, we also see members of Narli’s family in the clip, further reiterating the importance of family and his willingness and desire to bridge the gap in the Australian music scene.
As an artist and person, Narli actively works to advocate for helping disadvantaged youths and giving them a voice. Acting as a facilitator he guides teenage youths in remote communities in expressing their feelings and emotions to create a sense of change through collaborative storytelling, with ideas centred around respect for woman, love and trust under the label ‘Lighthouse Mob’. It is through this self-sacrifice that we see not only an artist, but a human who is willing to use his platform for good and to inspire the younger generations.
Me an My Buddas
As such, Narli continues to be a musician who creates music with purpose. Each song has a significant meaning and message that can be related to by all people. By embracing his identity everyday Narli is able to lay the foundations for those to come after him, just as it was done by his ancestors before him. It is the cultural unification to bring Australia together as a country that continues to drive him every day, and we as listeners of his music can sit back and enjoy this poetry in motion. This motivation was encapsulated recently in a moment when he was selected to perform in front of tens of thousands of screaming fans and many more watching him at the first State of Origin game in Townsville alongside The Veronicas. Showing that the rest of Australia is starting to sit up and take notice, and furthermore, that Narli is the painter and the world is his canvas.