5. 1 in 100,000 - L-FRESH the LION
This is another one of those "no jokes this time" songs because rather than dress up like a lion or make a string of jokes about statistics I'd rather just explain to you why L-FRESH the LION is one of the few people in this country right now that makes me feel proud to be an Australian.
Australia has a problem with race. We are absolutely a multicultural society, and in my experience the majority of Australians are not only okay with that but actively embrace it as one of this country's most profound strengths. But a large and vocal minority still think Australia is and should 'remain' a white, Christian place.
There are two important ways our multicultural identity can be communicated internal to our country: through visibility, and through empathy.
Visibility is a simple concept. I am of colour, I am Muslim, I am Vietnamese, I am indigenous - I am here; represent me, include me. This can be as simple as appearing on Neighbours or as complex as 18c; it can be as minimal as Tkay Maizda just making music, or as overt and challenging as Remi's Ode to Ignorance, or A.B Original changing the date. Visibility is important because it is how we see, for ourselves, the diversity of our national character, so that we can then take pride and find strength and our own identity in that.
Empathy is a crucial compatriot to visibility. There are Muslims here and they are not an enemy; there are black fellas here and they do not "want your land"; there are refugees here and they are not illegal, they're just people like you, who care so much about their families they will do anything to see them safe. Visibility can be confronting - necessarily confronting, as anyone who finds a hijab on Ramsey Street confronting really, really needs to be confronted - but that core of human empathy exists inside of every person and if it can be reached and activated, the visible becomes the accepted becomes the embraced.
Get Mine could have been the song I included on this list, but I think 1 in 100,000 is more important, because while Get Mine is a strong communication of presence, 1 in 100,000 does that rare thing of creating strong cross-cultural empathy within the existing Australian discourse.
This is a song about depression, and about the conscious construction of a positive identity that allows a person to engage with and overcome their depression. This is a universal concept, and one that will resonate with a lot of people who have experienced, or who have loved someone who has experienced depression, especially teenage depression, depression at the point of the development of a sense of self. This song is a strong, powerful fight song, a rally ...
... and it sounds kinda eastern, doesn't it? It's clearly an Australian hip-hop track, but it's got that eastern influence in the beat. Look at the video. A young Sikh woman is engaging in Gatka, an Asian martial art, against a shadowy figure representing doubt and depression. This production is a very Asian expression, from the sound to the dress to the conceit.
But the concepts are entirely familiar to everyone. A young girl, beset by doubt and by angst and by fear, literally fights off her depression to become a completely-realised adult, with her own identity, her own strength, her own self. How many movies, how many songs, how many books studied reluctantly in English class tell this story in one form or another? And here we have a Sikh, one of the - in my experience - least recognised, least understood constituents of our melting-pot culture, playing out this story once again, succeeding once again, and making us feel in ourselves a celebration, and an identification with and an empathy for a person different from "us", and, in that moment, not so different from us. Not so different at all. Just us. She's just us.
For making me proud to be Australian, and for giving me hope that one day all of Australia will feel this way too, L-FRESH the LION's exceptional, impeccable, important 1 in 100,000 is my fifth best song of 2016.