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Yung Nooky, Nat and Selway


On most afternoons the Nowra youth centre’s music rooms are occupied by groups of young hip-hoppers. Emerging here is a group called Yuin Soldiers, who have a shifting line-up including Corey aka Yung Nooky, Nat and Selway, Nooky’s cousin. Recognising a growing interest by young people from the area in hip-hop, the youth centre has built two music rooms used by budding musicians for learning, practice, and performing. The soundproof room allows hip-hoppers to mix beats and rhymes, record their tracks and place them onto CD or Mp3 player. The services at the youth centre are crucial for grassroots music making in Nowra, providing the only free space in town to use dee-jaying turntables, mixing, editing and recording equipment.

The production of new songs for Yuin Soldiers, like for OBHI, was reliant on computer programs and technologies, creating sounds and beats for the rappers. For Nooky, creating ‘cool’ beats was a skill that required practice and perseverance. He credited Selway for helping with beat creation:

Sometimes I don’t pick it up, and I get frustrated at it. I’m getting better, my cousin [Selway] helps the most. He can just rip em out. Too easy. And they sound so good. It’s a skill that I’m learning. (Nooky)

Nooky outlined how he composed songs:

… We put the beat on there first [demonstrates on the computer screen], then we rap to the beat. You do your back-up vocals and you compress it, bounce it down and it’s ready for CD. Sometimes I can do it in 40 minutes, but then sometimes it can take a few hours or days to do a song. It depends. I’m always writing. When I’m at home I write, and when I’m at school … (Nooky)

To assist Yuin Soldiers’ hip-hop, more established Indigenous artists provided
encouragement, informal schooling and even direct help with composing sounds
and beats. Older performers like Wire MC, Brotha Black and Street Warriors were
seen as ‘inspiration’ for Yuin Soldiers and their music making:
There’s Wire MC, I think he’s related somewhere down the line … he’s
really good, Brotha Black and Street Warriors, and all the Indigenous
rappers they inspire me. (Nooky)
Wire MC and Indigenous performer Choo Choo (CuzCo) had previously
collaborated with Yuin Soldiers. For Nooky, his older cousin Selway, a skilled
hip-hopper from a group called East Coast Productions (ECP), was another
prominent figure assisting in his musical production:
I usually get my beats off my cousin [Selway] because mine still aren’t that
good yet [laughs], he gives me a lot of beats and we sit at home and
sometimes I think of stuff and start writing or something happens and I’ll
just start writing about it. If I write something than I’ll just ask my cousin
for a beat. (Nooky)
OBHI, with most members in their 20s, had been practising and refining hip-hop
over several years. Yuin Soldiers*Nooky, Selway and Nat*aged in their late teens,
were younger and less experienced performers. They spoke of building up skills for
music making. In the same way as OBHI were promoting hip-hop in the TSI to
younger, budding hip-hoppers, ‘showing them the way’ (Big Worm), Yuin Soldiers
had drawn on the expertise and experience of more established acts like Wire MC
and Choo Choo, to advance their creative skills.


While not as geographically remote as the TSI, Nowra is socio-economically and in
a certain way also geographically marginal. This marginality is openly confronted
by Yung Nooky and Nat, through their raps and narratives, performing both
individually and as Yuin Soldiers with Selway. When asked about the origins of
their group’s name, Nooky explained that:
Yuin is our people, like where we come from, and soldiers, they keep
fighting and never give up, so that’s where the name Yuin soldiers came
from. (Nooky)
Their music confronts prejudiced experience, with Nowra seen as a place
perpetuating racialised ideas of Aboriginality. One of Yuin Soldiers’ songs
‘Subliminal twist’ raps about the marginality experienced by Indigenous youth in
Blackfella on the hunt,
Sick of being called a little black cunt,
While I’m walking I’m thinking,
Is this the price of education?
Heartache, racism and discrimination?
I’m sick of teachers saying these kids ain’t black,
Just because were not as dark as them Williams’ girls …
You had your chance and you couldn’t make me quit,
3 months from now, I’ll be done with this shit,
So until then I’m a stay strong and continue to spit,
These lyrics with a, with a subliminal twist, subliminal twist.
(Yuin Soldiers)
Nowra was consistently identified as a place which embodied intolerance. Yuin
Soldiers’ music was a powerful way of breaking down and confronting these issues.
Also, in parallel to their sense of discouragement, were feelings of attachment to
Nowra and the south coast:
Well Nowra is where we live and grew up so its home, that’s a strong
feeling, like this is your place. But it’s also a place that gives you the shits.
You’ve got to get out of Nowra for a while; it can get you down, but go
away, then come back and keep goin. It is a beautiful place and that, but it
can be a pretty racist place you know? (Nooky)


Nowra is home, yet consciously is also a place to escape. Living in Nowra is seen as
a struggle or fight for Indigenous youth, metaphorically drawn out in a Yuin
Soldiers rap, where Nooky makes comparison with American boxer Ruben
‘Hurricane’ Carter:
South Coast Hurricane … you can call me Ruben Carter,
Instead of a right hook, it’s the rapper Yung Nook …
Indigenous Hip-hop 153
The first round’s already won,
2541 ask around I’m the man in that town,
I’m goin big with my South coast sound.
[Chorus- Nooky and Nat]
Ah welcome you all to the South coast flow,
On the map we’re big, that’s how we roll, yeah got the endless rhymes,
yeah for the endless crimes.
In Nowra’s Aboriginal hip-hop, local experience is integrated with a politicised
transnational black culture. Music making can be drawn from daily experiences
within marginal places, providing creative stimulus for rhymes and raps. Hip-hop
allows negotiation through confrontation, using a ‘loud, cool and stylish’ (Nat)
form of music.


Yuin Soldiers also commented on the limited support for musical performance in
Nowra. Indigenous celebrations such as NAIDOC events supplied the majority of
their hip-hop performance opportunities. In addition to Yuin Soldiers’ hip-hop,
Nooky and Selway are involved in traditional Aboriginal dancing. Most performances outside of Nowra privileged their traditional Aboriginal dancing over hiphop. It was rare for any of the young rappers to play a hip-hop gig at school for a
band or music day, or at non-Indigenous music festivals. Music celebrated at these
events was likely to be other genres, like punk, rock music, or so-called traditional
Aboriginal performances, like didjeridu playing or dancing:
Mostly, like the NAIDOC week people ringing me up, and like [pause]
yeah there’s places I have performed at, like here [Nowra youth centre],
and I’m performing here next Friday, and up at the showground in the
middle of town but you mostly get booked out for Indigenous type events.
On occasions when Yuin Soldiers’ performed outside Indigenous events, participation was often confined within touristic representations of Aboriginality, confined
to traditional dancing. Nooky and his cousin Selway had performed traditional
Aboriginal dances for World Youth Day in Sydney, in front of a large audience,
before being invited to perform a hip-hop set, which fused traditional dancing
elements with their beats and rhymes. This was a highlight, lamented as a rare
opportunity to showcase their contemporary rhyming and performance skills. The
lack of hip-hop opportunities contrasted with the praise from audience members
and other more established musicians, at their gigs. A local Aboriginal community
event, called ‘A new beginning’, celebrated during reconciliation week, was a
performance that received special acclaim from an unlikely fan:
Yeah like at that Bundanoon one [gig], this old, this lady came up and said
‘I don’t like rap but I love what you did’. And this fella from Wollongong
Mr. McFlawless, yeah he got in contact with us and said it was good, and
[I] went up [to his house] and did a song with him. (Nooky)
Despite performing a modern, creative and expressive Aboriginality (‘our culture,
it’s like, we sing and dance and hip-hop fits in good’*Nat), there was a scarcity of
encouragement from the wider non-Indigenous community. With ambitions to
become a professional performer, Nooky, like Maupower and Big Worm, has
relocated from his local town, enrolling in a formal performing arts school on the
Indigenous Hip-hop 155
NSW central coast, hoping his relocation will help access career opportunities in