Barkaa’s powerful debut EP ‘Blak Matriarchy’ shows gratitude towards her heritage
Updated: Dec 10, 2021
Malyangapa and Barkindji artist, fearless story-teller, and unapologetic rapper Barkaa, has released her empowering debut EP entitled ‘Blak Matriarchy'. Through every track, the EP invites us to engage with and absorb Barkaa’s profound thoughts and raw experiences of which she shares without any hesitation. Whilst the EP explores bittersweet revenge, the riddance of toxic relationships and the strength that stems from pride in one’s identity, the project collectively emphasises Barkaa’s gratitude towards her elders and ancestors as she pays her respects to them for paving the way for her and the coming generations.
The production on this EP is sensational, with all of the tracks possessing their own distinct sound and seamlessly fluctuating in tempo and style to match what Barkaa’s messages convey. The EP features a mix of Latin fiesta-inspired, deep bass and classic 808 rap beats. Although Barkaa’s releases have always contained strong messages within them, this project stands out as she analyses the past whilst digging deep into a future of rectified injustice.
Through introducing listeners to the EP with the ruthless ‘Blak Matriarchy’, Barkaa exposes this country’s dark and covered-up history, and the continuous oppression of First Nations people that is still occurring today. Barkaa explores the disconnection she feels within this country as she is still fighting for freedom and equality in 2021. The rapper's lyrics highlight that she is proud to be ‘blak’ and that it is time to reclaim Indigenous power: “All hail to Blak Matriarchs’”, she exclaims with tangible pride.
The multi-layered production on this track immediately captivates the listener and is reminiscent of an ominous thriller movie scene that perfectly complements Barkaa’s penetrative lyricism. The entire EP holds strong family ties with both Barkaa’s mother and daughter featuring in the ‘Blak Matriarchy’ music video. With this incredible start to the EP, Barkaa makes it clear that she will never stop fighting for freedom for the sake of her daughter, mother, and her ancestors.
By completely demolishing this track, Barkaa leaves every listener irrefutably respecting her grind. ‘Godz’ is an empowering anthem that encourages people to continue hustling despite the constraints that are forced on them. Whilst the whole EP is living proof that you need to back yourself to turn your dreams into a reality, this song in particular celebrates Barkaa’s successes. The chilled instrumental allows listeners to hone in and focus on Barkaa’s lyrics, whilst a surprise switch-up in the last quarter of the song sees the beat transition from a kick-back beat to a slower, reverbed instrumental featuring some delightful horns, she simultaneously switches up her lyrics to give recognition to her elders and ancestors. Barkaa hits us with some of her deepest introspections and lethal bars on this track, stating: “Barkaa here came back from the dead, had a noose on my neck kicked it off with my legs”. After your first listen of this track, you’ll be praising Barkaa as your new God.
Released as a single 5 months prior to the EP’s drop, ‘King Brown’ signaled to listeners that this EP was going to be a fearless one. This track fuses a bouncy Latin fiesta type-beat, with revenge-ridden lyricism utilised to empower women overcoming a past relationship. The track explores how toxic relationships need to be disconnected from and eradicated in order for an individual to thrive. Barkaa highlights her own growth in relationships in this track, shifting her focus from romantic relationships to working on herself and her family. This track allows me to live vicariously through Barkaa, leaving me with my head bopping and feeling like a boss cutting off those toxic relationships.
“They used to look down on us, look who’s looking up now, Bow Down”
‘Bow Down’ is unquestionably the most confronting and authoritative track I have yet heard from Barkaa. The song dives deep into the injustices that First Nations people have incurred over history and how this discrimination still lives on to today. Barkaa opens up about the generational trauma she has faced, from her mum being a part of The Stolen Generations, to the ongoing police violence that continues to oppress First Nations people in their country. Barkaa’s lyricism flows effortlessly as she expresses her gratitude to her ancestors for the strong blood that runs through her. ‘Bow Down’ foreshadows the systematic change that is bound to happen in this country, as more people stand up against racial injustice and Indigenous power is reclaimed. Barkaa is proud to be an Indigenous woman and it is abundantly clear that she owes no one an apology for being uncompromisingly proud of her roots - as she should be.
‘Come Back’ ft Mi-Kaisha
“Blak and strong and powerful, melanin shine beautiful” has been on repeat this past week. ‘Come Back’ is one of the most powerful, soul-feeding songs I have heard in a while. Whilst this song transparently shows Barkaa’s experiences with her past demons, this track can be felt universally no matter your history. R&B and neo-soul singer Mi-Kaisha adds volumes to this track with her elevating vocals taking over the chorus and allowing some deep breaths in between Barkaa’s verses.
Through this track we’re given insight into Barkaa’s main objectives with making music, not to become famous nor rich, but to simply give back to her family who have given so much to her: “I just wanna pay back my mob with what I was gifted”. Barkaa highlights that after being “trapped in addiction and imprisoned” at 19, she has now flipped her life around and is determined to keep doing so, recently celebrating 5 years of sobriety. Barkaa now wants to give back to the ‘Blak Matriarchy’ that continues to support, nurture and raise her as her dreams are coming true.
‘Groovy Remix’ ft Briggs, Birdz, Nooky & Kobie Dee
This one definitely caught me by surprise. ‘Groovy’ was originally released in late 2020 as a bouncy, unapologetically tenacious single. However, in this remix, we’re blessed with features from Briggs, Birdz, Nooky and Kobie Dee – 4 First Nations artists who have left in indelible mark on the domestic music scene. In this collaboration, all of the artists address the unprecedented challenges that have been thrown at them whilst emphasising that they know their worth in the scene through their expert lyricism and delivery on this track. The bouncy bass reflects exactly what the title suggests; a groovy track that cements Barkaa, Briggs, Birdz, Nooky and Kobie Dee’s indisputable talent and impact.
This entire EP is a masterpiece overflowing with Barkaa’s undeniable talent to cohesively express and fight for First Nations people’s freedom and self-empowerment. Every track is packed with insightful meaning, and conveying these messages through Barkaa’s passionate voice is bound to engage any audience. The production throughout this EP accompanies Barkaa’s sound impeccably with each track forming its own unique ambience. The rapper's deep craft and drive to be authentically herself makes this project stand out as it fiercely encapsulates where Barkaa’s heart lies.
‘Blak Matriarchy’ will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions, so, get ready to shed some tears, feel like a boss and take in an eye-opening discussion, during which you’re experiencing an adrenaline rush that will last throughout the entirety of the EP.
'Godz' Produced by @justagent
All other tracks produced by @jayteehazard
First Photo by Luke (@bl_snaps)
Last Photo by Tristan (@tristan_edouard)
Words by Violet Murphy