If music was sport, Genesis Owusu heads into the 2021 ARIA Awards on a hattrick.
The hip-hop artist bagged two honors at last week’s J Awards, including the major trophy of Australian album of the year, for Smiling With No Teeth, released via Ourness/AWAL.
Owusu’s debut album, enthused triple j music director Nick Findlay, on announcing the album of the year, “is equal parts chaos and consistency; a hugely ambitious record that absolutely nails its vision, wrapped up in outstanding storytelling and bold, confident sonic landscapes.”
With that win, he joins an elite group of champs that includes Tame Impala, Gotye, A.B. Original and Courtney Barnett.
And there’s a real prospect of more to come.
For the 35th annual ARIAs on Wednesday (Nov. 24), the rising star (real name Kofi Ansah-Owusu) is the equal leader with six nominations, including chances for artist of the year and best album. He’ll also strut his stuff on the night as a performer.
To borrow from the sports playbook, Owusu is in form.
Owusu is “quite clearly at the top of his game right now,” notes Ben Godding, senior director, marketing, Australia & NZ for AWAL, the Sydney-based affiliate of the global distribution and music services enterprise. “For an independent artist to be competing at that sort of level,” he continues, “shows an artist that is also hugely relevant.”
Genesis and his team at Ourness Music Management “knows what they want, where they’re going and a true appreciation of Genesis’s audience too.”
Other industry power players know where he’s going, too. In July, Owusu was promoted to Spotify’s RADAR program, the benefits of which include features in the RADAR playlist, promotional support for upcoming releases, on-platform marketing, bespoke content, and social promotion.
“Genesis is an artist we are really excited about,” Alicia Sbrugnera, Spotify’s head of music ANZ, said on his appointment. “Evolving from his roots in hip-hop into something much much more,” she continued, “he has developed a passionate fan base across Australia and the U.S.”
The planets align this year for AWAL, which bags eight ARIAs nominations in total, including those nods for Owusu and shortlistings for Spacey Jane (song of the year for “Booster Seat”) and Nick Cave & Warren Ellis (best adult contemporary album for Carnage).
Since its launch Down Under in 2012, AWAL Australia has partnered on releases for the likes of Angie McMahon, Spacey Jane, and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, whose 2013 album Push the Sky Away (through AWAL) became the alternative rock legends first ARIA No. 1.
“We work with every artist to define their version of success,” explains Godding.
However the ARIAs pan out, 2021 has been a blast for Owusu, who operates in his own lane with a flair for interstellar funk blended with punk, rap and more bangers than a New York City hot dog vendor.
There’s more to come. “AWAL was set up originally by visionary entrepreneurial disruptors,” says Andrew Klippel, founder of Ourness, “and therefore exactly the distribution partner a creative company like Ourness and our artist Genesis Owusu requires to help accelerate our adventurous artist development.”
The 2021 ARIA Awards will stream live on YouTube from Thursday 4.30am ET, through a partnership with YouTube Music.
This year’s ceremony is a virtual one, taking place at Sydney’s iconic Taronga Zoo.