A.B. Original's politically-charged debut Reclaim Australia (Bad Apples Music/Golden Era Records) has won the 12th annual Australian Music Prize, recognizing the best Australian album of 2016.
The hip-hop pairing of rapper Briggs and producer Trials is the first indigenous act to win the prestigious honor, a feat the duo is "proud of," Briggs said. "Our success represents the strength and resilience of our communities and the Indigenous artists before us who paved the way so us and many like us now can see this kind of success," he wrote after the win.
The AMP, modeled on Britain's Mercury Music Prize and Canada's Polaris Prize and decided by a music industry panel, aims to identify and reward the outstanding creative Australian album of the past year.
Reclaim Australia topped an all-time record 364 entries and beat out eight other shortlisted titles to snag a piece of history.
Briggs and Trials were on hand at the Toff in Town to collect their award and the Aus$30,000 ($25,000) winner's check, donated by collecting society PPCA.
Dave Faulkner, frontman of the Hoodoo Gurus and chair of the judging panel, described Reclaim Australia as "more than just a great Australian album, it's a cultural landmark. It's an angry, funny, heartfelt, slamming hip hop album that takes its inspiration from '90s gangsta rap, and filters it through a modern Aboriginal perspective. It hits hard politically, musically and emotionally and the stories A.B. Original are telling are ones we all need to hear right now."
30k and a free ticket to the Gun show! @ABOriginalBAM #ReclaimAustralia @The12thAMP pic.twitter.com/qSv8vrRuKr
- BRIGGS AKA BIG SIGH (@BriggsGE) March 9, 2017
Reclaim Australia, which features guest appearances by Thelma Plum, Dan Sultan, Gurrumul, Caiti Baker and others, bowed at No. 10 on the ARIA Albums Chart last December. Both Briggs and Trials have previously charted Down Under. Briggs hit No. 16 with Sheplife in September 2014 and Trials made an impression as a member of Funkoars with The Quickening (No. 11 peak in September 2011) and Dawn Of The Head (No. 18 in March 2014).
Previous winners of the AMP include Hermitude, The Jezabels and last year's champ, Courtney Barnett.
The 12th AMP Shortlist
A.B. Original - "Reclaim Australia"
The Avalanches - "Wildflower"
Big Scary - "Animal"
Camp Cope - "Camp Cope"
D.D Dumbo - "Utopia Defeated"
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - "Nonagon Infinity"
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - "Skeleton Tree"
Olympia - "Self Talk"
The Peep Tempel - "Joy"