Colonialism makes a good effort to stamp out any traces of First Nations people. The ongoing colonial project sees Indigenous people as a threat to its success, and for a queer black woman like Mojo Juju, this hostility is doubled. On her new single, the Naarm-based artist––born Mojo Ruiz de Luzuriaga––pushes back. "Native Tongue", which we're premiering today, is a powerful indictment of the structures that have tried to take Mojo Juju's culture away from her.
"My great granddaddy was Wiradjuri/ My father came here from the Philippine/ It's where I live, it's where I wanna be/ But you make me feel so ill at ease", she sings, anger and pain coursing through her patinaed voice. It's a quiet, haunted track that pushes to a thrilling, screeching finale, aided by backing vocals from the Pasefika Vitoria Choir and a warped, abrasive beat from Joel Ma, aka Joelistics. "Every time you cut me down I'm gonna come back fierce/ The time is through for being nice/ Let's call it what it is", she rages.
"Native Tongue", as much as it is a fighting song, is also one rooted in community and family. "I wrote this song about my own experience, but I also wrote it hoping that it might reach other mixed race and/or Indigenous people who have longed for deeper connection to their culture," Mojo Juju says of the track. "My Dad speaks Tagalog, Ilonggo, Spanish and English, but growing up we only ever spoke English in our home. I would hear him talking to his family on the phone, a mash up of all these languages and I thought it sounded really cool, but it never dawned on me until I was older, exactly how much I was missing out on.
"I also remember as a teenager, my Mum researching her family history in an effort to learn more about her Grandfather and her Wiradjuri heritage. Now as an adult, I understand her urge to know more about her roots and lament the fact that I don’t speak the languages of my forebears."
"Native Tongue" is the title track of Mojo Juju's upcoming album, out August 24th through ABC Music/Universal. Watch the song's stunning video, featuring Indigenous dance group Djuki Mala, below.
Shaad D'Souza is Noisey's Australian editor. Follow him on Twitter.