Jun 16, 2017 9:05PM

Get To Know Talented New Australian Rap Hunk Genesis Owusu

Intimately and immediately.
Genesis Owusu is a handsome 19-year-old Australian-Ghanan man who makes music and fashion and poems. His debut EP CARDRIVE EP came out today. When I overheard it whilst enjoying my usual evening sixth-whisky-of-the-day on a mutual friend's veranda yesterday, I realised I must get to know this exceptionally talented artist intimately and immediately. "I must buy him a drink," I said to myself, "And he will spill his guts to me, and we will form the deepest of bonds. We will know each other inside and out. We are soul mates!" And then I used those exact words in a pitch to the good editors of Oyster Magazine, in an email replete with heart and eggplant and sploosh emojis. Attached was my proposed travel itinerary. Alas, it turns out that online editorial budgets at independent fashion magazines are not what they used to be, and Oyster would not be flying me to Canberra business class. Furious, I said, "No one likes email interviews. How in the hell am I going to make this piece good — phone him, or something? You know I don't have credit!" And the editor replied, "I don't know — use your imagination!" And I said, "Quiet! I have an idea..." 
 
Zac: Genesis, I want you to imagine if you will that it's late on a Thursday night and you're at a Canberran truckers' bar called "Chuck's". A dishevelled, late 20s, but still pretty handsome guy leans over, spills a little of his drink in your lap, and says, "I'm Zac, a writer at Oyster Magazine. *winks* Can I buy you a drink?" What do you order? 
Genesis: Tap water to drink and Dom Perignon to waste your money because I'm salty. These jeans designer.
 
And then the bartender has poured my whisky sour and your drink too, and I say, "What's your story, Genesis?" And so you start at the beginning, and say, "Well, Zac, I was born in..." 
Ghana, West Africa. My family and I moved to Canberra in 2000, when I was two. Being put in that situation automatically made me an outlier, which was something I quickly grew to accept and own. So since then I just unapologetically did really cool shit.
 
So, then you get to the part where you're telling me about how you study journalism, and I say, "How is that? Do you really want to be a journalist? Journalism blows." And you reply...  
Yeah nah it's pretty trash. I just wanted to write. I originally wanted to be an author but then my mum told me no one reads books anymore. I wanted to be a poet but poetry doesn't come with the Gucci flip flops. So now I'm a rapper. Still doing journalism for the back up though.
 
And now you get to the part where you're talking about your music and you say you have an EP called CARDRIVE EP coming out today, so I say, "What kinda music is it?" And you answer... 
Winter music for rose-tinted night times. The soundtrack of a goon with a sabretooth; a product of the CBR ZOO but a vibe for anyone who shares the mentality of a wolf in a bootleg Versace blazer, ya know.
 
Now imagine that Sue (a reeeally disheveled late 40s Chucks waitress with a belly-ring and a full back tattoo of her kids) has just finished her shift. She's throwing down a few tequila shots beside us. And as she slams down her last shot glass she says to no one in particular, "PUT. ON. A. SOOOONG. I wanna daaaaaance." Which of your songs do you put on, and why? 
'Void', 'cause it's hard af and I'm tryna see what Sue booty do.
 
And I'm like, "Man, your music is fucking awesome! How did this EP happen?" And you tell the story... 
I had a dream once, or like a day-dream or a vision of some sort, I don't remember. But I was in the back seat of a car at night. I was on a road trip of some sort. There were 3 other people in the car but no one was talking to each other; everyone was in their own little world. I had my earphones in and I was listening to something wild. The only light shining on me was from the stars and the brightness on my iPod. And that's all I remember. When I snapped out of it, I really wanted to make whatever it was I was listening to in my dream, and that became the EP, hence the title. The title also comes from the internal/external journey I was going through when I wrote it. I wrote the whole thing in 2015, which was a really weird time 'cause I was lowkey depressed but there was a whole bunch of cool, exciting and scary shit happening around me at the same time (people started listening to my music, I became a Triple J Unearthed High finalist, and I had a bunch of exams 'cause I was finishing year 12), so it was a time of real positive/negative, mental/physical conflict, and the EP was entirely the product of that. The EP also goes for 20 minutes, which is roughly how long it takes me to get anywhere I need to be in Canberra by car.
 
So the song ends, and Sue sways on over, and she says, "That's a pretty funky get-up you have there." And you say, "Thanks — it's from a collective start up fashion label called PUR that I co-own." But Sue is distracted by something over your shoulder. "Hey, that's my ute!" and she's off out the door. As we watch Sue through the window march up to a guy who's whizzing on her car tire in the parking lot, I say, "So tell me about this fashion label." And Sue smacks the guy across the back of the head, and we both wince, and you answer...
Just a group of young niggas who do things the way we want to do things. A bunch of likeminded outliers who are becoming the standard itself. We all do different things that feed into each other. We have our musicians, our artists, our designers, our directors, our business moguls, our producers and our DJs, and we all come together to build a living canvas of creative power.
 
I'm really impressed, and I'm like, "A journalism degree and an EP and a fashion label?" And you say, "I also write poetry." And I'm like, "Wut! Save some pussy for the rest of us..." *high five* "...if you're into that sort of thing?" And you laugh at my, er, joke, so I clear my throat and say, "What sort of poetry? Can you share anything?" 
Sold myself for 3 shoes and a belt buckle,
Honey suckle lies and ice cubes in the throat funnel,
Cherry picked the kisses from a casket of some misery,
I sewed the seed but it was picked and salted out of history,
Alas, alas, alas, alas, alas, Young Boy,
Your cymbals crash, crash, crash, crash, Young Boy,
Your momma comin', comin', for that ass, Young Boy,
Your toys bigger but you're still a child in class, Young Boy,
Be humble,
Before their face turn sour and they're wishing for your stumble,
Bees bumble and they're swatted till they come through with the honey,
Money trees with fallen branches will be driven over,
Land Rover tyres are worth gold but will stay shouldered, cold.
#reecegurney
 
And then like we order our sixth round of drinks and I'm like, "How do you do it all? I am so unproductive" and start crying. What do you say? Any advice? 
I try a lot to be like the character Mulan from Disney's 1998 animated box office smash Mulan.
 
It's getting pretty late and I'm still sobbing on the counter and I've somehow got onto the topic of my family, and then I say to you between sobs, "Your family must have been great." And you tell me about how your family is a musical one and the music you grew up on and how it inspired you... 
Everyone in my family loves music, and most of us have been on some wild eclectic shit for a while. Like Missy Higgins to Missy Elliott type eclectic. My parents raised me on everything, most notably Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, Ray Charles and a whole bunch of African and gospel music. My brother was heavy into Red Hot Chili Peppers and the day he discovered Kanye West was the day that changed all of our lives forever. You'll hear what I'm talking about in my music – just a constant mix and match of sounds and flavours from everywhere. Now I bump Beethoven 'Moonlight Sonata' in the whip, after 2 Chainz.
 
Meanwhile, Sue's getting LOOSE and she's sick of this place's shit, and she takes out a gun, and she points it at the bartender, and she wants "all the mother-fucking cash in the mother-fucking til" as payback for all the times Chuck kept her tips, and she's fucking using you as a hostage now, and backing out the door into the parking lot, and she pushes you into the driver's seat of her ute, and she gets in too and points the gun at you. And she says, "Drive!" And she puts on your EP, CARDRIVE EP — 'cause she fucking loved it — and your life flashes before you, specifically to a memory of a thing that inspired a song on the album, which was... 
All this yelling reminds me of the time I tried to record 'Goondocks//CBR ZOO II' and I tried to do all the screaming in one sitting without warming up my vocals and my throat started bleeding and every time I tried to talk I sounded like Sideshow Bob on The Simpsons when he kept stepping on the rakes.
 
"What the fuck are you doing? Drive!" she says, smacking you across the back of the head, and all you can think is to start driving to...
Canberra.
 
...because... 
All a goon knows is the ZOO.
 
And as the sun begins to peak over the horizon, and you're driving straight down the highway towards it, you put on the radio and on comes a really moving song that got you through some hard times, called... 
'I'll Make a Man Out of You' from the soundtrack of Disney's 1998 animated box office smash Mulan.
Text: Zac Bayly
Photography: Shane Sakkeus