Baker Boy has risen to the occasion at this year’s National Indigenous Music Awards, sweeping up three of the gongs available, including the coveted artist of the year.
The Yolngu hip-hop artist, real name Danzal Baker, beat a competitive field for the artist of the year title, with shortlisted acts including Electric Fields, Emily Wurramara, Jessica Mauboy, Mau Power and Thelma Plum.
“Woah, my heart! This is crazy. I honestly didn’t think I could win at all tonight,” Baker said. “To my family back in Darwin across Arnhem Land, I’m so proud to represent my people and so overwhelmed by the support and success I have achieved rapping in Yolgnu Matha and English.”
Baker also picked up both song of the year and film clip of the year for his single Meditjin, which features New Zealand rapper Jess B.
It wasn’t Baker’s first taste of success: he won artist of the year at the Nimas in 2019 and best new talent the previous year. His single Cool As Hell was nominated for three Aria awards last year, and he was named Young Australian of the Year on the day it was released.
Album of the year at this year’s Nimas, meanwhile, belonged to Archie Roach. The veteran singer-songwriter took home the gong for Tell Me Why, the highly acclaimed album of both new works and re-recorded classics that accompanied the release of his memoir of the same name last year.
Roach told Guardian Australia last year that Tell Me Why was about trying to come to terms with his complicated past as a member of the stolen generations and the reverberating effects of that throughout his life.
Ngarrindjeri singer-songwriter Ruby Hunter, Roach’s partner and longtime musical collaborator before her death in 2010, was posthumously inducted into the Nimas Hall of Fame this year.
The Nimas new talent award went to neo-soul singer Miiesha, whose debut album, Nyaaringu – “what happened” in Pitjantjatjara – came out at the end of May.
The Indigenous language award went to Rrawun Maymuru and Nick Wales for their song Nyapillilngu (Spirit Lady), while KDA Crew took out community clip of the year for Djabuganydji Bama.
The Nimas ceremony took place in Darwin and was hosted by actor Elaine Crombie and Nima creative director Ben Graetz after actor Stephen Oliver was prevented from attending due to Northern Territory’s recently closed borders.
The ceremony featured performances from Jessica Mauboy, Mitch Tambo and Electric Fields. It was broadcast on NITV, Double J, and streamed through social media platforms from Larrakia country (Darwin) in the Northern Territory on Saturday night.