Gela

Baker Boy

Gela

The debut album from Danzal Baker—also known as Baker Boy, The Fresh Prince of Arnhem Land, and Gela (the album title is another nickname, drawn from his Yolngu skin name)—has been a long time coming. Some of its tracks were released more than two years prior to the LP, but the fact that they’re every bit as exciting here as they were when they were first issued is a testament not only to his positive energy, but also his talent for writing and curating beats and melodies. The Yolngu rapper and dancer broke down barriers in 2018, when some of his early singles became the highest-ever charting tracks sung in an Indigenous Australian language. His boundless energy—onstage, in the studio, and throughout his home communities—can be felt across his entire debut album. It’s bright and funky from top to bottom, with songs about love, dancing, music, and striving for creativity. But you’ll also find moments of passionate politics—“Survive” and “Somewhere Deep” might sound as dance floor-ready as everything else here, but they contain messages about his community as well as the needs and problems facing First Nations people across the country. Below, Baker talks through each track on Gela.
“Announcing the Journey” “‘Announcing the Journey’ is announcing Gela, the body of work as a whole. It is a beginning, an opening, a representation for me, culturally, and the foreword of my story as Danzal, Gela, Baker Boy, the Fresh Prince of Arnhem Land.”
“Survive” (feat. Uncle Jack Charles) “I have been criticized in the past for not being ‘political,’ but I always have been, actually. I’ve just framed it among positivity. So, I wrote ‘Survive’ with this energy of being really direct about the issues that face Indigenous Australians.”
“My Mind” (feat. G Flip) “It’s a love song about mine and G’s respective partners, but it’s also just about having incredible people in your life. I feel really lucky to be surrounded by people who are creative and talented, but also just really good people. For me, it is really about my partner, Aurie. We have something special: We’re always collaborating on ideas and working together, and I think that’s a real testament to our love. I wanted this song to hit home with everyone, no matter who you love.”
“Ride” (feat. Yirrmal) “I just really wanted to make a song that was for the dance floor. It’s all about just bringing people together—feeling a good beat, breaking it down, and breaking down barriers at the same time. Yirrmal is infectious on this track; the hook and melody are so powerful, you can’t help but sing along.”
“Butterflies” “This is such a different flavor and tempo for me. It’s funky and juicy; you know it’s all about the wordplay and feeling the vibe and energy. Pip [Norman, producer] and Rob [Amoruso, producer] showed me this beat and I already had the perfect bars written for it. It’s all about chasing the adrenaline rush and really, for me, that feeling of being onstage and just coming alive—it’s something I’ve really missed. ‘Butterflies’ gives me that feeling; it brings the excitement back.”
“Cool As Hell” “A tribute to music and my love of music. Music is a part of my culture. But also, I grew up with dance and performance, and I feel like I am intrinsically connected to music and beat and sound. ‘Cool As Hell’ is a song for that. It’s all about my love for music and the feelings it can give you.”
“Move” “Another love song for my partner, but also a tribute to strong, incredible women, especially those women who brought me up and made me who I am. I was surrounded by strong aunties (if you know, you know) who were just the most incredible support network for me, and now I have my partner, who is equally strong and determined.”
“Headphones” (feat. Lara Andallo) “‘Headphones’ is all about the journey. Lots of creative people would know that it can be really hard to get to create full-time or to make enough money off your art, so this is really just a song about that grind. The grind of a 9-to-5, or just a job you don’t like, so you can make money while you’re trying to grow your profile or career in a creative industry. When you’ve worked a full day, but you have to come home and keep working, it’s a grind, and it’s hard, but you throw on your headphones and just escape into your craft.”
“Somewhere Deep” (feat. Yirrmal) “This reggae, island-vibe track is kind of like ‘Survive,’ where I’m addressing something overtly political but keeping the sound positive. Once again, Yirrmal’s vocals take this track to a whole new level. The message is clear: We need to take care of the land that we live on. In my culture, we believe that the more we give the land, the more it will give back to you, and I feel like balanda (non-Indigenous people) need to learn about that more and give the land the respect it deserves.”
“Funk Wit Us” “Typical party vibes, a floor-filler, the bangers I’ve become known for! ‘Funk Wit Us’ is like an invitation: ‘Do you really want to funk it up? Do you really want to funk with us? Come party with us!’ It’s a celebration of performing live and how much I love jumping on the stage. When people see me live, I want them to feel like they’re a part of something special. I want them to feel like they’re part of my journey, and they can just break it down with me and the crew.”
“Stupid Dumb” “‘Stupid Dumb’ is lighthearted and fun. It’s kind of making a joke of people who are jealous or try to bring people down. I think jealousy is a silly emotion. I mean, everyone is on their own journey and there’s no point comparing yourself to others. So, it’s just like a really lighthearted joke about that. I feel like you can really hear Jerome [Farah, producer and artist] on this track, too—you can hear his identifiable production, which I love.”
“Meditjin” (feat. JessB) “It’s another tribute to the power of music. ‘Meditjin’ is the Yolngu way of saying medicine, so I’m really just saying that music is the medicine. Music is so powerful, it can make you feel all the emotions. ‘Meditjin’ is a tribute to music and all the hard, good, sad, fun times it’s been there for me.”
“Ain’t Nobody Like You” (feat. Jerome Farah) “It’s celebrating individuals for being individual. It’s about knowing that you’re special in your own way, and no one is exactly the same as you. I wanted young kids in the community or kids of color to look at people like Jerome and me and know that they can do and be anything they want to be. I want to inspire the next generation.”
“MYWD” “MYWD: Make You Wanna Dance, says it all. I just want people to dance to my music. I want people to hear my songs or see me live and just not be able to help themselves. It’s just all about that positivity and vibe—so often, there can be a focus on negativity, so I just want to give people a reason to move and dance and sing and be happy.”

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