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Creating art that aggressively conveys an unabashed statement can be a double edged sword. Its capability for catharsis among an audience can often be diluted by those that misconstrue the message or interpret it as a personal attack. Remi acknowledges that such a risk existed when he wrote ‘Ode to Ignorance’, but it seemed the only way to truly get his message across. The track is volatile, unapologetic, and steeped in first hand experience of the prejudices it touches upon.

‘Ode to Ignorance’ portrays a culture of non-conscious racism that’s pervasive in Australia and it’s one that hasn’t been explored in quite this way before – especially by a hip-hop artist from Melbourne. We were compelled to hear more about what motivated Remi to channel his anger and frustration at the state of race relations so directly into his art and as you might expect, he had a lot to say.

In ‘Ode to Ignorance’ there’s the reoccurring point that a lot of this racism comes from media representation. Do you think that’s something we can change in our lifetime?

I think we definitely can. There’s a lot of simple things about how people respond to ethnicity that we can change, especially when it comes to Islamic people and how they’re portrayed by the media. It often seems like if you’re of a certain ethnicity, if you do or say something, you represent your whole people whereas other certain ethnicities, it’s just the individual. I think that’s one of the main things.

When the Sydney siege went down, the flag in the window was literally just a piece of text from the Qur’an. It had nothing to do with ISIS but as I was watching the news, they kept labelling it as being an ISIS symbol to make it seem like a threat that really is awful had come to our shores and really, it was just one madman with a gun. But as a result of that, innocent people were persecuted. Things like that, you know? [We should be] giving fair and adequate reports on what is actually going down. To be honest, I don’t think that is going to change exactly because a lot of media outlets benefit way too much from that. I think the next step is for people to stand up against being lied to, to say it’s wrong and to call people out on it. That’s way more important.

Do you think a greater diversity in media personalities would change how other current personalities behave and, more importantly, how society reacts to these issues?

Yeah, definitely. The more presenters we have of all races, well, the more people we have culturally in any context adds diversity. A lot of people don’t actually know that what they’re saying is intolerant, a lot of people don’t actually know what they’re saying is ignorant. They just get told all these things and what they’re shown all the time creates an impression.

I think we have a large degree of non-conscious racism in Australia where people aren’t aware that what they’re saying is necessarily discriminative.

Exactly. There’s also definitely some people that are hateful as we saw with the Reclaim Australia rally but that’s not everybody. A lot of the conversations I’ve been having with people about the video clip are interesting. Some people get a little upset at the line “If you’re not male and caucasian, you ain’t shit”. That’s me summing up the mentality of these ignorant people, that’s not me persecuting all white people – I don’t believe that leads to equality, pointing fingers. A lot of people have pulled me up on that and I answer that as diplomatically as possible. If you accept people with open arms, then this song is not for you. This song is literally for really ignorant people and I’m sure they’ll show their faces. When you release something like this, they always do.

The weird thing about that reaction though is lyrically, you recognise it’s a mindset before you recite that hook in the song. It’s interesting that people still take it as a personal attack.

Definitely, but I also think a lot of people get very hot under the collar when anything like this gets brought up. I’m literally just outlining my experience and a lot of people hear this all the time and they immediately don’t want to be tarnished with that brushstroke. They’re scared of that. The fear of ignorance is because there’s a lot of things that come with being called ignorant so I do understand that response [to the song,] but they shouldn’t feel that way. It’s not about a competition, it’s not about who should be greater, it’s about an even playing field that doesn’t exist right now.

Was the lyric ‘tell McGuire to cram it before I go apeshit’ a reference to Eddie McGuire’s King Kong joke about Adam Goode?

Yes. [Laughs]. That was that. Even if it’s little stuff like that, I think it’s important to bring up examples of this shit happening. Because again, that kind of thing, when it went down, a lot of people didn’t know it was wrong. They were just like “oh, we’re just having a bit of fun” and that whole vibe. Fun shouldn’t be at the expense of other people’s livelihood, that’s the one thing that you have to get across to racists.

Being accused of oversensitivity for feeling victimised or laughed at by something in the media also worsens the original issue, too.

Exactly. [The song is] also a very raw and in-your-face emotional piece that’s meant to represent how you feel in the moment when that shit goes down. I’m not like that all the fucking time. My mum’s white and people take away from this that I hate white people? No way. The only place where I feel mixed race is in my house. The only time I feel evenly represented is when I’m walking around my home and I see mum and dad – I’m seeing black and white. But as soon as I leave the house, that completely changes because of the mentality of society and that’s why I get so pent up because I love my mum as much as I love my dad, why can’t people do the same?

Would you like to be seen as a positive influence on the current state of racial relations in the country?

When you write a song, you definitely think about how it’s going to be construed, but this joint wasn’t meant to be a protest song, it was just meant to express how me, my friends and my family feel and our experiences with living life in Australia since we were born. That’s the end of it. I don’t know enough about everything to do with race, I just know about injustice. I will always represent that in my music 100%, but people can flip it however they want because they will. I’m just an artist saying my truth. What the truth is to me, you know what I mean? My experience.

I’m happy to talk about it and I will continue to talk about it, but I’ll continue to talk about every other injustice I come across. I don’t want to become known for my colour and standing up just for that. I want to represent everybody and I definitely want to represent the African community 100%, but I want to represent all my caucasian friends, my Indonesian lady friend. I want to represent injustices. I don’t want to represent one thing.

It’s all about being an artist across the board. That’s just what I am, this just happens to be the most emotional song that’s on the record and it’s come through like that. I want to start conversations.

‘Ode to Ignorance’ appears on Raw X Infinity and the deluxe edition of that album just dropped. What makes it deluxe?

It has the instrumentals of every song on the album which I think is really important because the music as good if not better than the raps always. I’m a huge fan of Sensible J and Dutch and their production. That’s all there and we’ve got a few joints we’ve had for a while that some people might not know about that were on previous stuff and they’re different and we thought they were funky so we wanted to add them in there.

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