There's a theory that the word "Aboriginal" was churlishly chosen for Australia's original inhabitants because it really means "not original". 

Its insidiousness is open to interpretation, because the Latin prefix "ab" can mean either "from" - hence, from the origins - or "away from". However, no-one could accuse Aboriginal rapper Djarmbi Supreme of being unoriginal.

Most rappers prize themselves on their polished hi-fi production, but the sonically subversive Djarmbi dubs himself "The Lo-Fi King". The majority of emcees focus on finessing their flow, but Djarmbi likes his lines jagged and jarring. Many rappers like to show off their bulging biceps, but Djarmbi flaunts his swollen stomach. And whereas most hip-hop heads accessorise with the sharpest shades and jauntiest jewellery, Djarmbi stripes himself with garish greasepaint and has been known to don a false nose with a paintbrush pierced through it.

"I never wanted to be a hat sideways, gold chain-wearing thug or something like that," says the 29-year-old art school graduate, stripped to the waist and sweating at the end of a 30C day in Melbourne.

"The mask is like a latex, Hollywood make-up mask that I used sometimes just mucking around. That's like a moulded wizard's face that I've turned up and painted and shit, with the paintbrush. I usually try to actually paint my face, rather than using the mask."

But the colours come from his real home of Stradbroke Island in Queensland's Moreton Bay - Quandamooka country - where he is one of the Traditional Owners, the Noonuccal people.

"In actual fact it's real ochre, traditional war paint," he says.

"It's like million-year old, pure pigment from up home. I go and carve it out from this little spot that I go to. Those colours have been used for thousands of generations by my people and in a lot of south-east Queensland it's like a ceremony colour, that pure red and white, and particularly for the red nose, that's like a trademark of the Brisbane sort of area, for people to paint up to go and fight.

"I've ruined so many T-shirts by doing it, because it's pure red pigment and it just doesn't come out and I've got to have a shower afterwards because it's mixed with oil. Traditionally, it's supposed to be mixed with animal fat, but I couldn't find any and I didn't want to use just beef dripping or something."

He laughs.

"So it's just petroleum jelly, it's like a good synthetic for it. It's really uncomfortable, but I like doing it. It's a good little ritual to do. I always try to do little bits of culture here and there.

"It's also trying to bring in a bit of theatrics, a bit of mystery or something like that. I'd rather make people think about it and try to draw them in somehow instead of just being some 16-bar whiz kid that happens to write good rhymes."

But he does happen to write good rhymes. 

On "Red Nose" he raps:

Come fuck wit a certified piss head rapper
Have a d and m with a pig headed wanker
Turciops truncatus drunk artist bottle nose
Traditional knowledge but I'm kickin it modern yo
Cross country diametrically opposite of Cottesloe
Wanna know where that crown? I got it bro

Morelia spilota, I'm slithering, make way
Raise the roost, these chickens ain't safe
I smell you dogs, I'm that sharky
Dope kicks, but you can't buy my soul like Kev Carmody
So right now, play me loud,
But don't speak my name again when ya lay me down

"Turciops truncatus is the scientific name for the bottle-nose dolphin, the main totem for Quandamooka country," he says. 

“Morelia spilota McDowelli is the scientific name for the coastal carpet python, the main totem for the Noonuccal/Nunukul people.”

For Djarmbi, it's always been about the words.

"It's always been about being a writer and having the ability to write, having good grammar and literacy but twisting the fuck out of it," he says.

"I was raised in a house with no TV. We had books and we were shown from an early age how to read and digest books properly and really appreciate them and we were punished for throwing books. So books were like diamonds in our household."

Djarmbi's love of words can be seen in the prolific puns that writhe out of his twisted Twitter feed. His Twitter handle changes constantly, from "Tyrannosaurus Fonzarelli", when his debut EP dropped, to "Hawaii Elvis" when he was holidaying back home on country, to - at the time of writing - "Djeezus Slyce". 

But his official handle, Djarmbi Supreme, is no meaningless moniker.

"Round Victoria 'djarmbi' is like 'mate' or 'brother'," he says. 

"Most people with experience with the community know of the word. It's a bit like the way people call each other bruz or cuz. Up back home it's buunji and in a lot of desert regions they say buunji for your non-related but close brother. 

"So it's kind of like a spin on best mate, Djarmbi Supreme. Djarmbi's just like common lingo. It's a generalised southern Australian term, it's not my language."

The term "djambi" is also in used in Dharug, the language of the area now known as Sydney, to mean "brother in law". But Djarmbi also raps in his language, Jandai. On "Soup's Up", he spits:

I'm cooped up with a flat battery n full fridge
No sheets on my bed, I'm gonna pull a sickie
Fighting hunger pangs, no lunch nothing to munch
Tchare inter? Nah, wanya bang
Grog. Nyinda ngariyuba milgari
Don't ever leave me, don't ever spill on me

"'Tchare inter?' is 'have you eaten?,'" he says. "And 'wanya' is like, 'where's this or that', looking for something. 'Nyinda ngariyuba milgari' translates to 'you are my sweetheart' in Jandai language.

"My Nanna, Dad's mum, spoke language - she wasn't speaking it every day but she had fluent dialect when she wanted to, more often it was when she got drunk or something like that, she would forget what language to speak. 

"So I've always had these little bits of words, just like the same as anyone has a bit of family slang for if you do a fart or you need a piss or have got to do a shit, you've got a little slang word - and it just so happens that those slang words were Jandai language. 

"It's a pretty common story in the Aboriginal community - a lot of kids think they don't have language but they've probably got 50 words if they write it down. So you know, things like being able to sing 'heads, shoulders, knees and toes' in language, it's stuff that I pass on to my kids, who have traditional words in their names.

"If I want to go learn new phrases and things, sometimes I'll invent little bedtime songs that are phrases that I've been able to put together. Things like the one in that song, 'nyinda ngariyuba milgari', I pulled out and wrote that as a little poem for my missus - something amazingly romantic like that - and that's how I remember that. 

"I thought, 'Shit, I'm probably the first dude that's said that to his wife in years, you know? It could have been four generations since someone in my family's said that to a woman... But then I had to go and ruin it by saying it was about beer."

He cracks up laughing.

Djarmbi's father, from whom he gets his Aboriginal heritage, also passed on his bent for booze.

"He wasn't a traditional man or anything like that," says the rapper. 

"But he definitely had a lot of noticeable characteristics, like his tendency to support his mates and be really connected to family and the outdoors and that sort of stuff and, you know, a big drinker, a sort-of champion darts player and a keen pool shark and pretty much a genuine legend. 

"My dad was involved with the original Brisbane Panthers. All that leather in a tropical climate, just made 'em more disgruntled. He was an arsehole to his missus, but that was just the dark part of his silver cloud."

Djarmbi's parents split up when he was young."

Dad was a boiler-maker, a proud Aboriginal man with a tendency to be violent - and there were some domestic violence issues in the home. Mum's not Aboriginal. She left and he kind of followed to be close to the kids and so he was working in Warrnambool and Portland - he was a boiler maker working in smelters, foundries and stuff. 

"We set up shop in Warrnambool because my mum met my stepdad down there. My stepdad was a solicitor, he worked at community legal aid, so it was sort of a pretty interesting household because through the week it was real sort-of left-wing sort-of human rights-based sort of community times and on the weekends when I'd see dad it was real, like grassroots, sort-of working class stuff."

On "MJ n the Glide", Djarmbi raps about how his father only just made the life expectancy for Aboriginal men, which the Australian Bureau of Statistics says is still 10.6 years below that for non-Aboriginal Australian men:

Super lo fi for the scumbag eardrums
Here comes an arrogant fuckhead minus the bum bag
Youse are docile when it comes to beer runs
Weird huh, how it's not enough, one slab.

One man army, Djarmbi, workin on the sun tan, chargin,
Lung cancer workin on the son, dad carked it,
Life expectancy, never passed it, marked it,
So I know I got fuck all to run rampant and party
"The year he passed away was 11 years ago and 53 was the exact life expectation for him that year," says the rapper. 

"He had throat cancer, but he fell over and hit his head and that's what killed him. It's debatable that his Aboriginality had anything to do with his actual death. It could have been his susceptibility to the cancer and his mental health. But he hit his head and had an aneurysm or something like that, because there was no one else around - someone should have been there to just pick him up but he died, so it's a weird story. It just so happens that he was only expected to live until that age. Quite odd."

To mark a decade since his father's demise, Djarmbi got a tattoo that is still his favourite.

"See that, there," he says, holding up the back of his left hand to brandish a set of numbers in gothic script. 

"Longitude and latitude co-ordinates. That's where my dad and my grandparents and a lot of my ancestors are buried. Well, that's where their ashes are laid to rest, on Stradbroke Island. So that's where I expect to be left as well. That's my favourite place in the world, that's my Mecca, that's where I want to be. So that's probably my most important tattoo - I got that to commemorate my dad's 10-year passing, but also just to sort of show how important that place is to me culturally and personally."

Djarmbi is covered in ink, but he started getting it back when most of today's tatted-up masses were still cringing at the sight of a needle.

"I've got 14 animals, call me David Tattenborough," he quips. 

But he takes his tattooing deadly seriously. For Djarmbi, it's more than skin-deep.

"My family - the men specifically - have been marking themselves for identification forever," he says. 

"It's part of our culture. But it would be with a scallop shell, a cut shell, scarification and symbology and all that sort of stuff. It's a contemporary version of that culture. It's a continuation of the manhood ceremony that continues throughout life.

"I started when I was 17 and have never stopped really marking milestones and basically just decorating myself with my identity because you would have seen back in the day that people from opposite areas and tribes and families could look at someone's body markings and know who they were, know something about their experiences and what type of importance they had to the community and development in terms of their experience.

"More often than not it would be markings about how many fights they'd won, how many people they'd killed and how prolific they were at performing ceremonies, all that sort of stuff. Everyone in my family's the same, I'm not even the most tattoo'd dude in the family."

Both sides of Djarmbi's family jump out of his skin. Across his sizeable stomach is a huge sailing ship emblazoned with the word "FAMILY". His formidable forearms are marked with "QUANDAMOOKA", the traditional name for his Country, encompassing Moreton Bay and its islands, including Stradbroke Island. Across his chest is "NOONUCCAL", the name of his people - he also identifies as Goenpul and Ngugi. On either side of that word are his family surnames, LEITCH and NICHOLSON. His mother's grandfather, Sir David Nicholson, was immortalised long before Djarmbi had his name inked for eternity.

"He was the most amazing dude," says Djarmbi. 

"He came from a tiny town in New Zealand, a little place called MikiMiki, like a one horse town. He ended up being the first dude in Australia to ride the wall of death, on an Indian Scout - that's like an 800-pound motorbike - it's insane. And he ended up being the longest seated Speaker in Queensland parliament and still to this day is highly regarded as one of the better men in government."

As Speaker, Nicholson led a coup against notorious ultra right-wing Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen. On Djarmbi's track "Cuntspiracy Theories" he raps about pissing on Bjelke-Petersen's grave, among other things.

"Yeah, some of those things are true," he laughs. "Some are dreams, and some are just a piss-take."

Djarmbi also takes on the modern incarnation of Bjelke-Petersen - Murdoch columnist Andrew Bolt, who contravened the Racial Discrimination Act in questioning the racial identity of fair-skinned Aboriginal people. 

On "A Spurt Of Dope Juice", Djarmbi raps:

I wanna spear that Andrew Bolt cunt
To prove light skin mob still practise culture
That's word... Honest...that's my word
I won't sleep easy till that rat gets burnt

"It scares me that he's got so much support from the public," says Djarmbi, who works as an Aboriginal Education Officer in Aboriginal Health. 

"I can respect someone if they're objective and well researched. I can accept that there's racist people in the world that aren't always going to like me, but he's just not smart. He doesn't have any professional integrity. I can't see why everyone loves him other than the fact that he gets away with saying all the racist shit."

Bolt is perhaps symptomatic of a worldwide problem - that people value opinion more than facts. Djarmbi agrees.

"He just loads it up so bad and people mistake his opinion for news - and that's really what scares me is that people can get sucked in. Some of the views are just insane. He's basing a lot of his shit on the same theories that formed policies that were outlawed and called racist and I thought everyone knew that human rights blew a lot of that shit out of the fucking water. 

"He shouldn't be out there except for making a little blog here and there or maybe there's a certain redneck Klan meeting or something happening where he could go and get on the podium and address his peers. There's not enough good people out there with high profile journalists' jobs that can beat him at his own game.

"So yeah, I really do want to spear him in the leg - that's not a joke."

Djarmbi applies his war paint in the video for "Buckley's And None"

There are plenty of jokes, however, on Djarmbi's EP and two mixtapes, the Sex Pest Chronicles Volumes 1 and 2 - both of which feature "cameos" from a long list of Aboriginal celebrities. Curiously, all sound exactly like Djarmbi Supreme - including actress Deborah Mailman, whose punchline has to be heard to be believed. 

His persistent parodying includes puns that straddle the line between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal worlds - one of his songs is called "Wadeye Fink" and his YouTube and Skype handle is "Wadagai". It's a refreshingly irreverent take on Aboriginal culture, which is usually treated with only reverence or revulsion. As author Salman Rushdie once said: "Original thought, original artistic expression is by its very nature questioning, irreverent, iconoclastic."

"Yeah," says Djarmbi. "I've got a strong belief that people need to stop waiting for fucking clapsticks and didgeridoos and dot paintings before they can call something Aboriginal art. People are too scared to accept that there's a contemporary version of this 60,000-year-old culture that's legitimate. I can stand there and chant and do a cultural show if that's what they want, but so can all these other people. You know, I'm doing MY thing."

So, given Djarmbi's originality, what does he make of the theory that "Aboriginal" really means "not original"? It sounds like the kind of yarndi-fuelled yarn that proliferates in conspiracy-obsessed hip-hop circles, but it circulates wider than that.

"One of my best mates, Mark, he brings it up sometimes," he says. 

"He remembers, because he went to an Aboriginal boarding school. He reckons when he was there, there was this little miniature uprising among all the Aboriginal boys in their dorms, they were all sitting around saying, 'They're saying we're original, but if you put ab in there, we're not, like abnormal'. But I know enough about the English language to not get offended by it.

"Whether the root of it is some evil plot to have a little jab in the ribs every time it's said, you can see them all chuckling in their pearl coffins now, but it doesn't worry me.

"Aboriginal, you can use it in all sorts of ways. The word Aboriginal to me, that's how I was raised and it identified my family. We would be told that we were Aboriginal, so I can't see it as being negative.

"Plus, as far as I'm concerned, by this point, it's an appropriated term. It has become something else. We say everything's 'deadly', but that doesn't mean it's going to kill everyone, it's quite the opposite. 

"In that sense, I think we're some of the best in the world at appropriating terms because our language has all been fucking stolen. We're storytellers, so we'll take new language and breathe new life into it - because that's what we do."

Video: "You Gotta Dance" by Djarmbi Supreme