born Indonesian and African-American parents, was adopted by Australian-American parents and moved from America to Australia when she was 10 years old. She had a confronting start to her hip hop career when she 19.
“During the 90s, I wasn’t Australian enough because of my culture and accent. I grew up in the States – I have an American accent. People were like ‘you can’t be seen as an Australian act because of your accent. You’re trying to be a fake American’. I was confused. I felt disrespected and not wanted,” says Mirrah.
“We’ve made a humble music history moment in Australia. I am the only hype woman for a male act.”
“Hip hop is my conversation as much as I would have a conversation with a young person to build on self empowerment. Music is a beautiful way of translating a message to someone without preaching to them.”
For Mirrah, an Indonesian, African-American hip-hop artist, who was adopted by Caucasian parents at four months old and now lives in Australia; it is less about gender than race. She has been creating music for more than 20 years, performing as a dancer, rapper, singer and poet. She has regularly been told she does not look ”Australian” enough to appeal to the Australian audience.
“Being a person of colour and a person of ethnicity; that’s been a huge battle as a female,” says Mirrah. “I luckily haven’t received sexism as much from Australia; I’ve been very much respected, but other women have definitely been victims of that… [they] still to this day get it.”
“As a female, we all have our own trials and tribulations of survival in the game,” she says.
Those trials were on show at 2018’s inaugural Jumanji Festival, a hip hop event staged in Melbourne and Sydney last March. It boasted some big names, including Lil Wayne, Tyga and Metro Boomin, but it made headlines for the zero presence women on the line-up.
In the wake of a social media backlash, festival organisers apologised for the lack of female artists, saying they had approached some female rappers but “opted to secure the best possible artists irrespective of gender”.
Alphamama was not convinced. “I think they’re full of sh-t. If all they consume is male hip-hop music, that’s all they know,” she says. “It’s laziness and I think it’s perpetuating this culture that it’s ok to do that and it’s not taking responsibility for the industry.”