For Locals Everywhere: Say Hello To Hip-Hop Prodigy, Genesis Owusu
Introducing Genesis Owusu — the miraculously talented 19-year-old musical prodigy (who’s also a poet and fashion designer). He’s one of four campaign stars we’ve chosen to represent the spirit of Local Supply moving into Spring Summer 2017. Yew! We’re hella proud of the crew we’ve brought together: the synchronized swimmer Olia Burtaev, the musician Ecca Vandal, the daring chef Mitch Orr, and our mate Genesis.
Genesis may be just shy of 20, but he’s already made waves — nay, tidal waves of Hollywood disaster film proportions — in the music world. He makes bloody catchy and very unique hip-hop, and his debut EP CARDRIVE EP from June of this year earned him fans in the fine editors of Vice, i-D, FBi Radio, and Oyster Magazine. But before that it was already clear he was a star: he was a top five finalist in the Triple J Unearthed High competition at age 17. 17! We were still wearing braces, struggling to get our Ps, and borrowing money off of our mom at that age (okay, we still borrow money off our mom). Since then, he’s performed at Groovin’ The Moo, Spilt Milk and St. Jerome’s Laneway, knocking the socks of his audiences and earning him an ever-growing legion of fans. (Word is he’s collaborating with some pretty amazing musicians off the back of all that.) So just how does the guy connect with so many people, of all kinds? How does he do it all? Why is he making the rest of us under-achievers look so bad? We asked him a bunch of questions in an effort to find out more about this enigmatic young artist and his mysterious powers of creation and connection...
Genesis! How does your output differ when you're creating alone versus when you're creating with others?
There’s an element of competition that comes with collaboration. When I create alone I’m thinking almost purely about expression; when I’m with others it’s still about expression, but I have to express better. I have to say the things I want to say, but better. I don’t want to be left behind. It’s a healthy element. In the end, the main mutual goal is to create something that works. Since I don’t really produce and can’t mix, master, stitch, paint or film, aside from poetry and writing, everything I create ends up being a collaboration, which brings the best out of whatever I’m trying to do.
Who are your favourite people to work with, and what have you created together? Who is your community — creatively, business-wise, and in everyday life?
I surround myself within a pretty tight-knit community of people that I love and/or trust on the regular. The people I create everything with are the same people that I eat with, travel with, sleep with and live with.
In your experience does it take a village to make something successful, or is it ultimately down to you and your drive/creativity/smarts, etc.?
That depends on how you want to define successful. Is it about the intrinsic merit or the extrinsic result? Either way, I don’t think it’s a matter of A or B; no one is a master of all trades, so being able to utilise other people’s strengths to realise your own creative vision is often important in creating something of a golden standard. There doesn’t need to be five heads to make a working body of art, but it helps to have one head, two arms and two legs.
Who's contributed to your success so far? Like, who are you gonna thank when you EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar or Tony)?
My family, my friends, my managers and Yeezy. Twice.
Do you feel you belong in the Australian music / hip hop community? Or are you making space?
A little bit of both. I feel like Australian hip hop is going through somewhat of a renaissance right now, allowing me to pioneer and innovate in my own space while still belonging because others are doing the same. We can belong without trying to sound like each other. I can try and be better than everyone, I can end up being worse, or I can put myself in a place where no one can compare me either way.
How do you feel the Australian hip hop scene has changed / is changing / needs to change?
Australian hip hop is changing because the people making it are changing. It’s becoming a lot more diverse. People from different cultures and areas are dipping their feet in the pool, and bringing with them the different sounds and quirks of their unique upbringings, then incorporating that into this unified culture we call hip hop.
What do you bring that's new to it?
I bring Genesis Owusu. Who else has that?
How has recognition and/or rejection by other artists/creators contributed to your feelings of belonging and your drive to create/succeed, etc.?
The Australian hip hop community is generally very supportive of one another. Which is nice. There’s a childlike warmth about it; everyone wants to belong to something, lowkey. In terms of my drive to create however, I wouldn’t say this strengthens or hinders it – I’ve always created for myself. I’m my own #1 fan and #1 critic.
What's more important — recognition in the media or connecting with your fan base?
I think your fan base connecting with you is the most important thing. I think artists should respect and cherish their fan bases for sure, but never compromise. Or at least know when to catch those rare times of when to compromise. I do think recognition in the media is important though if you’re trying to attain a more commercial success, because how are you going to have a fan base if no one is there to hear you?
Is there a group or movement in musical history that you wish you belonged to and/or that you aspire to be like?
I don’t aspire to be like anyone but I am inspired by everyone. I am really about those people who eat really loud on Instagram though.
What aspects of life feel good when they're communal, and what aspects are better left private?
Love and love.
What are you working on at the moment and with whom?
Making tracksuits for the springtime with my friends.
What's next for you?
World domination. With my friends.
Genesis is currently touring Australia. Keep up to date with his shows here or check out his latest track below: