Ballarat rapper Mitch Burgess, known as EMBE, delves deep into personal stories in his new EP The Backyard Rapper.
It’s a reflection of life growing up in Ballarat, telling tales of hardship and growth.
The seven track CD was launched on April 28, a debut for the up and coming 21-year-old artist which was many years in the making.
Three years ago leaving high school to study psychology, Burgess wouldn’t have imagined following a career in rap, let alone winning the regional final of the statewide Freeza Push Start competition, running rap workshops and releasing a CD.
But the idea of a challenge has driven hard work and commitment.
“Music is the last thing I thought I would have gotten into. I studied psychology for a year after school. Then rapping became a challenge that blew out of proportion,” Burgess said.
With bigger goals in sight, he faces challenges on each step of the journey, including overcoming the fear of performing the EP’s intimately personal songs live on stage.
“When I first started performing the songs on this CD I was freaking out a lot, because I was really worried about the way people would look at me outside of performance,” Burgess said.
I have come to understand there is a big difference to me performing, listening to me on the CD and me in real life.Mitch Burgess, stage name EMBE
“Once I got my head around that and I got support for the music I was making it helped a lot. Because I was very very nervous creating this.”
Burgess describes Change Me for the Better as one of his most personal tracks. It tells the story of a family he used to live with during their experience of domestic violence from the perspective of two young children.
“The song goes through what they are seeing from the moment they wake up to the moment they come home from school. It goes to more than just the violence – to the harassment at school because the kids are a bit different, and the older brother is trying to look after his little sister but it doesn’t help him in the process.
Watch one of his film clips here (coarse language warning).
“I explain my position in that situation being an outsider knowing that all of this is happening, seeing it happening but not being able to do anything because I was too scared at the time to intervene. I was looking after the kids, taking them away and making sure they were alright, but they were pretty used to it, which was the scary part.”
Burgess also shares the power of rap with the Ballarat community in his songwriting workshops Project Origin. He works with disadvantaged youth and those interested in rap to teach venting and expressing anger or frustration through lyrical content.