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Words By: Stephen Shelverton
All Photos By: Elizabeth Sharpe @ummagummamumma

FULL GALLERY HERE

Roaches get ready to scutter in the shadows of the Genesis Owusu journey in a parallel universe of cool for the 2023 ‘STRUGGLER’ tour.

The coolness factor surges from Genny Wu, like an out-of-control fire hose in style, and fashion, with slick melting grooves and wisdom beyond his years. The stage persona of Genesis, often draped like a deity in bespoke leather garments, escorted by a full cabaret dance crew (his “Goons”), is a backdrop to the smooth vocals and biblical lyrics building in suspense from our king.

Genesis magnetically attracts a treasure trove of awards; they do not impede this king of cool. History dictates being cool without compassion is a pathway to obsolescence; it’s another term that holds him in strength: Humility.

Genny Wu’s ability to ground himself and reveal earthly humility is akin to a pupa shedding the technicolour Dreamcoat of his vibrant stage persona.  Social media is penned in calm mindfulness and gratitude, offering reflections of his ‘regular’ life while simultaneously reminding us of the connectivity of his music, giving thanks to his fans (Roaches), suggesting to strive to achieve better, together. 

These are the marrow bones of Get Inspired, offering encouragement and leadership as a community role model in the arts and exemplifying pathways of kindness, such as visiting Canberra high schools to share his influence.

Recent cases of his humility that deserve to be revisited:

  1. A Denver show sold out in record time. To console those without a ticket he invites them to watch the soundcheck, playing 3 songs with a meet-and-greet, for $20, donating the money to MATW International (@matw_project) for civilian aid in Gaza.
  2. While promoting the ‘Struggler’ album; “Dear Struggler-Buy a copy of the new album, and go in the running to have your bills paid for a month!”.

Stay Blessed, Stay Blessed! How can you not love him for these acts, which are as separate yet intertwined from the stage persona of the best live act in Australia (Official J Award title in 2023)?

Genesis does not takes his achievements for granted; 19 ARIA Awards nominations – winning 7 of them including album of the year for 2 albums in 2 years, the 2021 winner of the Australian Music Prize, 3 Triple J – J Awards, , there are more, way, way more… such as being on Barrack Obama’s recommended music playlist and the 2023 ACT Young Australian of the Year. In these moments of prestige, a very humble Kofi Owusu Ansah will accept an award, using the platform to call for humility in victory- for peace.

“There are a lot of atrocious, atrocious things happening in the world right now, we must do what we can to stop it at any junction that we can. With that being said: Cease fire now, free Palestine.”

Don’t even bother robotically cataloguing and disassembling him into a genre, just let the music melt you down and symbiotically marinate in your cerebral cortex for days. I was determined to express against putting Genesis in the Hip Hop/rap genre, that is until reading every article written on him states the same thing! I was gazumped by Genesis’s acceptance speech for the 2023 ARIA Rap/Hip Hop Album of Year; “Hip Hop made me who I am, and allowed me to speak on the things I wanted to speak on, so I cherish this in my heart always.” It’s final- It’s Hip Hop.

Tonight at the FMH the crowd was a well -dressed meld of cultures and age demographics. A common theme was splashes of scarlet, a tasteful tribute to the entertainer’s flare. I toured the venue to catch up with the awesome merch team of Jo (DZ Deathrays merch extraordinaire) and the hard-working Luke (Happy Birthday), to buy two luscious crimson tour shirts. In between sets a DJ played to keep the FMH a buzz, with a notably punctual introduction to Elsy Wameyo.

Elsy stood on stage draped in a Kenyan Flag over her shoulders, stating there was a time when she was made to feel she could not be proud of where she was from, what she looked and sounded like. Now she is a proud representative of her culture and people. Tonight, Brisbane lovingly welcomed the culture clamping track River Nile that’s been darting in and around Triple J. It is apparent the mark she has had in Adelaide, collecting Peoples Choice for Best Hip Hop Award S.A Music Awards in 2019. Elsy formed a sincere connection with the crowd through sharing language and emphasis for these words with the audience. It left us wanting to see her again soon.

The Earthgang duo came out in a highly energetic style blasting Top Down, with the breezy sing-along chorus; “Top Down, yeah, and I’m floating through the city, yeah…” Fans of Young Thug may be familiar with this positive track Proud of U. This Side was a build to the crowd favoured Bobby Boucher “playing roulette like Bobby Boucher, Wa-Wa-Water on a Tuesday”. Earthgang played the audience well and made ready with some familiar party-trick antics on a crowd that may be unfamiliar with their indie style, that has made them a Hip-Hop heavy hitter.

Struggler’ is the tale of metamorphosis of man to cockroach, backed with the support of The Black Dog Band, cue the stage theatre drama narrative of our downtrodden roach”, and enter through the darkness the man of the hour, bursting out of the shadows wearing his trade mark leather coat-cape adorned in red stripes, sunglasses, and red racing-stripe on his head.

Genesis hits the ground running with Leaving The Light; Stamp me down, but a roach keeps roaching”! That frenetic energy has made this a contender to spiral up the tally room to the top of the single digits in 2023 Triple J Hottest 100, surely! replicating the song theme being a chase, “Better run, there’s a God and he is coming for me!” If you can break the hypnosis of the hot funk, keyboard pace and read the lyrics of the cautionary tale of morality, environmental plundering, choices consequences, and survival you’ll love it even more.

Survivor is a newly released track and it has one of the most well-choreographed cinematographically shaped film clips in 2023, with costume design straight from the catwalks of Milan in the year 2099. Run Roaches, run. 

A 1980’s disco light panel lit the stage for The Old Man. There weren’t many people left not raising their heads to the sky singing in unison “…. There’s, an old man waiting in the sky, just to fuck my life up!”

All the dreamy “ooh-ooh’s” were oozing in the soulful See Ya There. It had us all lovingly lost in that dreamy moment “You’re going to hell baby, I’ll see you there, ah we ain’t too precious!”

The crowd swayed in sweet peristalsis grooves, well in to the next smooth criminal that was Waitin On Ya, “Smiles for sale. Smiles for sale”. This keyboard nudging beauty had the crowd totally mellowed. 

That’s the thing with Genny Wu, it’s the fluctuations in deep calm and chaotic climbs, such as the gyrating Gold ChainsIt looks so gold, but feels so cold in these chains” a buttery smooth flow of lyrics heightened by Genny’s cool presence. Even though I never dance at gigs, it was notable there was not a single roach in the FMH not dancing on all 6 legs, including myself and my son.

During the inter-song narrative Genesis would hold open a black leather-bound book that was the approximate size of a Bible. A glowing aura would light up Genesis’s face when the book was open, giving the impression the book was reading him, rather than him reading it.

Tied Up, oh that’s funk, no doubt! The reworking of biblical stories into contemporary warnings, is efficiently bound without judgments, just observing the struggles the Roach is under. With “Its Sodom and Gomorrah, vogue strike a pose” Genesis demonstrates in full dance with impeccable moves.

With that he launches into That’s Life (A Swamp) – another synth key driven number with a cautionary tale. Close to the half way point the song turns a complete deviation, the twist delivering perhaps my favourite lyrics “My arms are tired from carrying the weight of your shit…” 

My son notes that the show is very welcoming to those that may not be familiar with all the lyrics to join in and live in the moment. Conversely, I was pleased to hear Genesis’s love for Brisbane, “Ah Brisbane, it’s very special to me, it is the first location that the crowd knew the lyrics and would sing to me, I will aways remember that core memory” and “Thanks’ for coming out Brissie to see LITTLE Ol’ ME!”

Next up is WUTD. This motown-esque blend of sexiness and tickled ivories, is ode-like to Marvyn Gayes silk bedsheets. I just love the way the piano keys and guitar wail in agonising synergy, adhering to the lyrical languish, seemingly passionately embraced in the moment, whilst nervously questioning the others intent. Genny Wu master’s lyrical suspense with the inquisitively personal questions “so what ya tryna do yeah?”    then the song fades, out completely without closure.

Balthazar hits so much harder live than on the album, a proper dance frenzy ensues. The pre-Christmas irony is that Balthazar was the wise proud fearless black Arabian king who bought the gift of myrrh to the nativity scene. Just as Genesis brings us the gift of Music in this rich smoky haze at the FMH, with equal regale, poise and purpose, King to the Roaches.

This is the point Genny Wu moved from the stage through the crowd, parting it like the red sea, effortlessly yet with control and confidence, not appearing out of his depth or reluctant. (You don’t get this at stadium gigs with $250 tickets, God I love Aus Music).

Now for Get Inspired if this doesn’t splinter wooden floors around the globe (reminiscent of the Enmore Theatre floor collapse in March 2022 that Genny Wu clairvoyantly/jokingly predicted prior to the event on a Triple J interview) it will be an engineering marvel.

The stage is pelted with a back-and-forth repetition for Don’t Need You with “I don’t like you & I don’t need you”.  The high priest invites an ‘intrusion’ of costumed cockroaches from the audience to dance on stage, to the farewell of “Fear the Roach, Love the roach”.

Kofi ‘Genesis’ Owusu-Anah will continue to transcend multiple art genres with his artistic vision. I think its safe to say it will be done with purpose, conviction, coolness, and humility.

The lights came on! Quick! Run under the fridge… Farewell Roaches.

Thanks to Thinking Loud

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