Nicki Minaj famously once said “$50k for a verse/No album out” – a declaration of her powerhouse talent despite being relatively new to the industry. Yolngu rapper Baker Boy – real name Danzal Baker – hasn’t made such a declaration, but with an Order of Australia, a nation adoring his every move and not so much as even a mixtape out, he bloody well could.
Now, after a string of beloved, energetic singles, Baker Boy is ready to re-introduce himself in his fullest, and most personal, form yet: Gela. Gela is the name of Baker Boy’s forthcoming and long-awaited debut album, out on Friday 15th October, and is the rapper’s skin name.
“Gela is who I am,” Baker said in a press statement, “and it’s my story.” To help him deliver the news, he has enlisted G Flip – non–binary ICON, EMA winner and another subject of Australia’s affection – to kick off the rollout with new single “My Mind”, and (surprise, surprise) it’s very good fun.
Propelled along with that all-too-infectious cowbell, “My Mind” sees Baker Boy – who just earned himself a stack of 2021 NIMA nominations – flex his rap skills over a different style of production than usual. He swaps out the frenetic and nostalgic atmosphere of previous bangers like “Meditjin” and “Ride” – both of which appear on Gela – for smoother, bubbling synths accompanying the glittery electropop of G Flip.
It should come as no surprise that two of the most captivating performers in the country were in turn captivated by one another when creating “My Mind”. “Working with G Flip was a real privilege, we've known each other for a while through touring, but it was mad to see them in their element in the studio,” Baker said in a press statement. “G is a real talent, not only their voice, but their songwriting is like no other.”
G Flip – Georgia Flipo – returned the love in a separate statement, saying that they’ve known Baker for a while after taking on multiple festival circuits together. “... A song collab was always on the cards,” they explained, “We met up at the studio sometime in 2019 and ‘My Mind’ was written in a day”. Capturing lightning in a bottle really does take no time at all.
G Flip is one of many collaborators set to feature on Gela, with appearances coming from Yirrmal, Jerome Farah, Lara Andallo, Thando and more. And, in an interview he gave with MTV Australia last year, Baker said he’s had these tracks stored away for a while.
“There's a couple of tracks that I was going to release this year then COVID happened,” he said, “but I think it's pretty good to hold onto music and listen to it over and over to be confident [enough] to release it to the world."
The album is set to chart Baker’s experiences transitioning from living in a remote community into inner-city Melbourne. The album’s stunning artwork, painted by street artist Adnate, portrays that juxtaposition and duality, but also Baker’s journey that he’s undergone in front of millions.
“I want people to see what my life is like, and where I come from,” he said. “The journey from a remote community to living in the city and trying to adapt, and have that balance, is a lot of hard work, [but] it’s an amazing journey.”
It’s been a long time coming, but come October, we’ll all get to immerse ourselves in the history of one of Australia’s most exciting artists, as told by the artist himself.
Baker Boy’s Gela is out everywhere on October 25. Pre-order and pre-save the album now.