Feature: Tasman Keith – To Whom It May Concern
Fresh off a sold-out headline tour and securing 2020 J Award for Best Australian Music Video Of The Yearfor BILLY BAD AGAIN, rapidly rising Bowraville-born rapper Tasman Keith continues his seemingly limitless ascent by unveiling his debut mixtape, To Whom It May Concern.
The idea of hometown pride has always ridden deeper than most in Tasman’s music: everything he does is indebted to the community that raised him, to the idea of giving back and carrying on the storytelling traditions of his family. For Bowraville – a small town on New South Wales’ mid-North Coast most commonly recognised for housing one of the country’s most notorious missions and as the site of one of Australia’s most shameful chapters in history – Tasman is attempting to write a new history through his music, reclaiming pride by lifting up and giving back.
As it happens, Tasman Keith wears this responsibility very, very well throughout To Whom It May Concern, balancing a willingness to interrogate the darkest crevices of his life and Australian society as a whole with a perfectly weighted knowledge of when to shake it off with braggadocio, self-assured confidence, and beats that remind you why subwoofers were invented in the first place. Across To Whom It May Concern, Keith addresses the death of his older cousin, reflects on his career thus far and forwards, drawing connections between structural racism and the music industry, and more.
From the bare-bones, truck-rattling furore of lead single, Confident, to the hypnotic, horror-inspired, nocturnal soundscapes of Nightmares on 9th, Tasman’s penchant for fearless stylistic choices is, at this point, already well established. To Whom It May Concern doubles down on that expansive flexibility, allowing Tasman to comfortably, confidently occupy so many artistic lanes at once while also carving out a space of his own.
With a shifting structure, lavish production, a tripping flow, and auto-tuned vocals that tread the line between rapping and singing, latest single ANSWER recalls the swirling, hallucinogenic panoramas of Travis Scott’s Astroworld and the shadowy introspection of J Cole, Tasman’s most outright excursion into pop territory to date. Atop percolating layers of interweaving guitars and synths, Tasman embarks on a journey of self-reflection, healing, and reconciliation, untangling a troubled state of mind whose weight is cushioned against the floating, atmospheric vocals of Vallis Alps’ Parissa Tosif.
Tasman’s debut mixtape captures a rapper in the midst of a propulsive, undeniable artistic streak, capping a year that has seen his profile rise through collaborations and guest features
With his technical proficiency as a rapper, his storytelling, and the resonant social justice messages of his mission, Tasman has long been positioned as an emergent leader in Australia’s hip hop resurgence. His debut mixtape coronates his reign and exceeds the promises preceding its release, cementing Tasman Keith’s status as a wholly essential artist and a resolute, unassailable voice for the voiceless.