Premiere: Poet and rapper Luka Lesson delivers a vital cultural message with The Medics’ Kahl Wallis

Brandon John

Today we’re more than thrilled to bring you ‘Living Artefact’, the new track by one of the country’s foremost slam poets, writers and hip-hop artists Luka Lesson, and featuring vocals from Kahl Wallis of The Medics.

As made clear by the title, the track boasts a clear, determined message about carrying on with cultural songlines, respecting heritage and wearing it proudly. Wallis brings his Indigenous perspective to the discussion, pairing it with Luka’s Greek-Australian upbringing to fight against cultural whitewashing.

“Looking at how to break free from racist stereotypes and represent a narrative of ancient cultures in contemporary words and music that challenge and inspire audiences gave birth to Living Artefact,” Luka explains.

“It is a statement to combat the sterilisation of both of our cultures, where difference is celebrated as a part of our lineage which has brought both of us to our contemporary experiences.”

Kahl adds that, from his perspective, the song “poetically and artistically touches on the displacement and continued forced assimilation of First Nations people around the world.

“For me it’s a personal, spiritual journey which has deep connection to ancestors and country. I’m a living continuation of my ancestors and we are living proof of how to maintain resilience and strength, respecting and acknowledging those who have come before us, who have shaped and inspired our voice.”

In approaching this track, and their music as a whole, Luka and Kahl are simply picking up the mantle of the the storyteller held by their ancestors, and using it to draw attention to new stories that need to be told. Together, they hope to help reignite a passion for “understanding and awareness around cultural and racial issues.”

“We’re having a great resurgence in orating one’s own story to large crowds,” Luka says. “However, where we used to be called story-tellers or bards and the venues amphitheaters, caves and under trees; we are now rappers, singers and slam poets and our venues big stages, bars and YouTube.

“In order to keep our cultures alive, especially for Indigenous peoples whose stories are so often repressed, we find voice again in oral traditions through these new mediums. The need to speak out and be heard is essentially irrepressible.

“It’s an exciting time to be a poet and hip-hop artist. And, it’s as important as ever to bring these issues into the mainstream conscience so we can break down cultural barriers for a more cohesive world where everyone’s heritage is truly celebrated and valued.”

Fellow rapper L-Fresh the Lion also has plenty of kind words for the new track, giving Luka and Kahl an effusive shoutout.

“Luka Lesson shines on Living Artefact,” he says, “sharing with us a much-needed dose of culture, ancestry and heritage. His flow is hypnotic and his delivery radiates strength. Kahl Wallis’ voice uplifts. The two together make this song truly hit home.”

The pair will have their chance to bring the message to the people directly when they head off on a national tour in August, covering regional centres as well as big cities. It’ll be the latest live expedition for Luka in a career that’s already seen him tour with socially conscious icons like Nahko and Medicine for the People (US), Akala (UK) and Tiki Taane (NZ).

Check out the new track above, and some of Luka’s brilliant spoken word below.

*For more from Luka go here:

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