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Mojo Juju (MEL)$29.60
NATIVE TONGUE is a fitting title for the third studio album from Mojo Juju and it is her very essence laid bare. It is raw, honest, emotional and intrinsically political. It is also brutal and relentlessly real. Since cutting her teeth and making a name for herself on the Australian touring circuit in the late 2000s, Mojo Ruiz de Luzuriaga, a.k.a Mojo Juju, has been many things to many people. She’s been a troubadour, a soothsayer, a shapeshifter and a darn good songwriter.
Now, after a decade honing the art of story-telling, she’s made the boldest move imaginable; she has decided to finally just be the story. ‘Native Tongue’ is exactly that; Through the telling of family history and her own personal experiences, Juju explores her relationships with Elders and Ancestry and how that informs her own identity. Contemplating her Mother’s Indigenous heritage, her Father’s experience as a Filipino immigrant and her own place in the cultural landscape of modern Australia, it is an album about self-discovery and it is her most sincere, heartfelt and personal offering to date. “One of the most crucial elements in order to know who you are is to know where you’ve come from, to know your roots. We’ve all heard it before but it really started to resonate with me. I started to think about the importance of oral traditions, how songs are such a huge part of that. I wanted to document these stories from my family, as well as my own experiences with identity and culture. So, delving into my family history is only the beginning of the story, but I think it’s a very good place to start. ”Stylistically, Juju once again embarks on new territory through collaborations with multiple producers – Steven Schram (Paul Kelly), Joel Ma (a.k.a. Joelistics), jnbo (The Cactus Channel) and Jamieson Shaw (Netflix series ‘The Get Down’), and includes a number of features from an eclectic array of guests; Hip Hop MC Mirrah (L-Fresh The Lion), Soul music royalty Joshua Tavares and spoken word artist Lay the Mystic. The album opens with the latest single and title track to her new album, ‘Native Tongue’, and it cuts directly to the bone.
Lead by an absolutely mesmerising beat (courtesy of Joelistics) and the haunting vocal work of the Pasefika Vitoria Choir, Juju treats these opening moments like a live exorcism; she takes a hand over either side of her chest and turns herself completely inside out, laying her innermost workings bare for all to see. She pulls no punches and offers no quarter, tearing at the foundations of the institutionalised prejudices she has had to face as a mixed race, queer woman, growing up in a country with no place for her, never feeling enough a part of any one community to be accepted. It is a song that manages to be so personal and painful, yet simultaneously empowering and anthemic, as though it were written for every mixed race or Indigenous person who has ever felt like they did not belong. This time around Juju has taken her eclectic influences and created a seamless and authentically original sound, continuing her dedication to bucking labels, bending genres and doing her own thing. Perhaps the manifold musical incarnations of Juju are symbolic of the manifold pieces that make up her identity. Perhaps this unique blend of Soul, RnB, Blues & Hip Hop is in fact her ‘Native Tongue’.
The single ‘Native Tongue’ is streaming from July 6th. New Album ‘Native Tongue’ is due out through ABC Music / Universal August 24th.