Monthly Archives: February 2012

Beast On The Mic – 2011 Tour Vid!

My L. Commish bredren Brad Strut got real busy last year since he returned to Burn. Smashin stages across the land with his 1 Man 1 Mic stage show. Unkuts own Joshy Davis was there for the majority capturing bits on cam and went on to construct this ill 6 minute vid to give a taste of the Beast on the mic if you havent had the fortune to see him live and direct yet…

Checkidout…

 


Piano Breaks 2 Mixtape…

In the theme of dope mixtapes dropping recently, Dan Greenpeace dropped this gem. Makes for some good end to end listening, tidily crafted on the cut…

Check it out!


Same Shit Feature…

My first official DJ and old Run For Kover pal DJ Frenzie just dropped a new mixtape featuring local joints from 2011.
“Same Shit” off For The Term… scores a guernsey on there droppin in just after the dope intro. The tapes put together super tidily, check it out if you get a tic...


RAP DIASPORA – THE FULL INTERVIEW…

Since FTTOHNL dropped a few months ago Ive had the opportunity to speak alot through some great interviews, this one was also right on the money. I was asked to contribute my 2 cents to a couple questions for an article that ran in the Big Issue Magazine re. the state of Hip hop in this country. The article featured a couple weeks back and some good grabs were pulled from my interview but considering the depth of the interview alot of things I touched on obviously couldnt make the short editorial which also included other  comments from various local artists.

With the consent of the magazines interviewer, heres the full version. It may seem a little weird to read as multiple Q’s are bunched in at the beginning of certain paragraphs. It should all make sense though as it unfolds.
Shout out to Dan Rule again for hitting us up on the topic…

* Basic Background 

– Just for context’s sake, could you let me know your age and where you grew up?

 I’m on the 40 side of 30, Born & lived in Sydney’s inner west (flats & commission housing) til relocating to Geelong, Victoria at the age of about 13 and right in the midst of my mind being blown by this amazing new culture that had been exploding on our shores for the past couple of years. Just as the major cities were flourishing with the Hip Hop culture I was dragged to a sleepy hollow an hour from Melbourne and an hour by train away from the action! After a while I made connects and began regular travel to Melbourne eventually moving here.

* I’d love to hear about your introduction to hip-hop…

– You came up in an era in which painting and graffiti culture was still very much intrinsic to hip-hop; were those two pursuits very much linked for you?

– Tell me a little about the transition from listening to MCing/producing

– Did you draw early inspiration from first generation Australian crews (if so who) like Def Wish Cast and co, or do you feel your chief early inspirations were golden era NY peeps?

My initial introduction to Hip hop was in the early 80’s whilst still in Sydney. Its extremely hard to pinpoint the very first thing that grabbed me or even to put them in exact chronological order but the combo of those first couple of Rap tracks to bless our airwaves in 83/4 along with seeing a preview of the film Beat Street at my mates dads video shop on one of them old vids that just had upcoming previews on them, and of course the buzz surrounding this amazing new book at the time that was supposedly impossible to obtain “Subway Art”, were the main instigators that come to mind.

Mum and I were without the oldman and we didn’t have the luxury of a car, so train was usually my travel mode, therefore those early, primitive but productive tags and pieces that began to appear from our station in West Ryde to the city captured my attention as well. The culture as a whole movement really struck our shores in a big way and all the elements grabbed me by the throat. I even enlisted in Breaking classes in Parramatta! But I would definitely say when it took a hold of me it was definitely as a total movement… Every aspect of it became part of me, so the two pursuits of graffiti and the music to me seemed one. It’s actually funny when I think about it now at how shocked I was to find out some writers didn’t even listen to Rap!

As far as my shift from avid listener to becoming a participator, it really started to manifest in about 89/90. A mate and I had put two boomboxes face to face and recorded ourselves a year or so prior after “Down Under By Law” came out but Id say by the end of 89, start of 1990 Id started to put work into writing rhymes, they weren’t for anyone else’s ears but mine of course! Then after meeting and connecting with a fellow Geelong Graffiti artist “Raise” we started talking about the local rap that had been circulating, the new AKA brothers 12” Coming Out Large was just about to drop at the time and I mentioned to him that I had a few verses Id written. I spat something to him right there on the train on the way to Central Station Records and he didn’t believe I wrote it! I had to convince him it was mine and that I had more… From there the slow process started, pause tape style recordings and eventual hookups with others in Melbourne further advanced the process, til we hooked up with heads like Frenzie we didn’t have the first clue about production or multi track recording, break beating and pause tapes was all we new. It was still years prior to me putting on my production hat, but these connects led me to learning about digging and sampling etc…

My first inspirations were obviously US artists but it wasn’t til I heard and saw the likes of A.K.A and other local artists actually put it to practice that I figured I could expand my secret rhyme writing to a larger scale. I’m a fan first and foremost and the thought of doing it was not only daunting but I always thought unless I was somewhere near what my heroes were doing then there’s no sense in airing it. I guess I saw it as an insult to not only them but the culture.

* How would you characterise Australian hip-hop in the early days, both in terms of attitude/philosophy and community…

– From my experience, the sub-culture of people making hip-hop and going to shows were something of a small village…everyone knew of each other and had their opinions, beefs etc. To be given any credence, you had to come up through the channels. Would you agree?

 

Yeah, you’re on the money!

Exactly that… It was a relatively small subculture; if you didn’t know someone personally chances were you knew of them. Although not everyone got along, far from it in fact, differing opinions and both verbal and physical beefs entrenched it, there still seemed to be this sense of unity in the fact that we were all working towards the same goal and for the right reasons. If you were an out and out sucker, toy or sellout, you were exposed. And the invisible guidelines were there and generally followed, paying dues was paramount, like you said to achieve any credence you had to earn them stripes via the channels set.

 

* How would you characterise Australian hip-hop today?

– It seems now that, with the vast popularisation and diversification of what might be considered hip-hop in recent years, the notion of Australian hip-hop as a genre or even community becomes problematic…

– Your record, for example, and what comes out of Obese these days — let alone someone like 360’s record are so far removed they can’t really be linked via genre or philosophy or whatever…

– Do you feel like you’re part of some wider Australian hip-hop narrative, or do you see yourself in terms of a smaller community of purists? 

– Or, perhaps, do you understand what you’re doing as fitting into a wider tradition and diaspora of hip-hop chiefly from NY, Philly, Detroit et al…? 

 Firstly, I still struggle with the term Australian or Aussie / Oz Hip Hop. I don’t think I’ve personally called it that, ever. I totally see how and why it was used, and can appreciate that, but it seems like my worst fears have come to fruition with the current state of play and the people representing, using and riding under the term. I don’t think it ever needs to be mentioned, we are who we are doing our version, that’s all. Can you believe some youngsters not only, ONLY listen to supposed “Ozzie Hip Hop”, but they actually diss US rap in a manor suggesting their totally unaware that the music originated there and that we took from it and adapted our own? It’s just crazy. To me it’ll always just be Hip Hop or rap from Australia.

Beyond the bad banner, the problem we have now is that the next generation (small pockets of knowledgeable heads excluded) don’t actually know Hip Hop from a bar of soap, or pop at least. If all they know is the garbage they’re fed and told on certain radio stations locally and the terrible crap from overseas that’s also passing as Hip Hop on the TV, how the fuck are they ever gonna know? They’re not privy to the exciting new movement I was in the 80’s,they don’t have the influx of classic album after classic album of the 90’s when it was impossible to put out music unless your talent was worthy of throwing dollars at. It’s up to all of us to teach them, or at the very least put it out there for them to see. Not enough of them want to explore the roots of the music and the culture itself and the fact its being grossly misinterpreted and misrepresented is where my biggest gripe is. Using the term Hip Hop to categorize something that besides potentially a couple words rhyming together has no bearing or relation to the music or the movement at all is ludicrous.

I class my album as Straight Up and down Rap, Hip Hop Music, I’m happy with the terms real, hardcore or underground but don’t put me in the skip hop with the rest, please! I’m definitely a purist and at times a fraction jaded as any traditionalist would, but I never hate on people doing the kind of music they want, my discontent comes in when either the artist themselves or their label or even media go on to categorize them as Hip hop when they are far from it. Please, lets keep the Hip Hop section in the store, the Hip Hop stage at gigs and the Hip Hop reviews in media for the Hip Hop artists and releases, its not rocket science.

* What drives you to still make records? 

– I’d love to hear a little about what you wanted to do with ‘For the Term…’

– It certainly describes a different side of Melbourne to what we’re used to hearing these days…

– Everyone’s so swept up in the whole inner-city coffee-drinking garbage these days; your record describes scenarios that couldn’t be further removed…

– The production, which is super rugged, dark and dusty also eschews current aesthetics, which are super brash and brassy and maximal..

– What do you hope people take away from the record, both lyrically and musically?

 

With regards to the album, it’s just me. It’s my rap life. It’s pretty much the album I always envisioned. It’s what I know, what I see, what I’ve done. I think it’s a real reflective and personal release that follows that traditional blueprint of a classic rap release. It wasn’t my intention to make something so removed from other stuff that’s out today, it just came out that way. There’s no doubt its got that golden era feel to it but I don’t think it sounds dated or throwback, maybe that’s just me? Minimal production with ill loops and bangin drums, straight up lyrics and cuts is rap music isn’t it? The new records I listen to similarly follow these lines as well so maybe I’m just in my own world?!

As far as what people take from the album, I’m open, they will what they will. I certainly know it can’t be for everyone so it’s all good either way. I made it for me and the likeminded souls who feel the same; I guess I hope those who enjoy it take from it the same as I take from my favourite releases. Break down my raps like I used to Rakims, pick out the samples if they can, have an overall appreciation for the endless hours that went into not only crafting the rhymes and beats but the marrying of it all as one complete album I poured everything into over quite a few years?!

I’ll always make records. I’ll always be doing this. I’ve done a few interviews lately and I always state the fact that Hip Hop as a complete culture found me and locked me in for life. It’s why the albums title is what it is. There’s no escaping this, I live, breathe, eat and shit the culture. You can’t escape it when it has you like it has me. I may only paint once a year but its still in my blood, I may put out an album every couple years but I’m still rhyming to myself daily, I’m still diggin weekly, my body doesn’t allow to attempt windmills at 38 but I love watchin heads spin, I play records every day. I’m still a fan first and that’s what keeps me hungry, that’s still keeps me inspired, when you lose that you might as well throw it in.

 


Omega Man (Tommy Ill Remix)

Im not a massive fan of remixing joints that already have a beat thats unfuckwithable, it happens time and time again and I see it more often than not as a pointless exercise as generally the remix-er never truly hits the mark in offering a different flavor to the OG but still complement the vocals…
Dont get me wrong, some vox could do with remixes, and thats when i mostly appreciate them, but by and large if it aint broke why fix it?
Anyway, I consider Prowlas OG backing to my Omega Man “Unfuckwithable” and any real need for a remix is null and void, kinda weird I guess considering the acca was made available on the Omega Man single when it dropped, but it was more a bonus offering than a cry out for someone to hand me a remix. Regardless, remixes were made at the time ranging from good to poor, a couple of standouts shone no doubt and I hadnt heard much more on it til my man Tommy Illfigga hit me off with this one today.
Without going back into the others, I think this ones the illest thus far…
Big ups Tommy Ill. Enjoy.


The Big Issue – Rap Diaspora…

Last weeks Big Issue Magazine featured an editorial titled “Rap Diaspora”.

I was interviewed as part of the editorial and small grabs were taken for the article. Im yet to scoop a copy but heres a transcript of the editorial itself. Nice to be asked to comment on the relevant topic, thanks to Dan Rule for the call up.
(Report back for the extensive interview in the next couple days).

RAP DIASPORA

Australian hip hop acts have been making incursions into mainstream culture since the Hilltop Hoods broke through with their defining 2003 record The Calling, but the artists topping the charts are hardly representative of the wider culture. In 2011 and 2012 hip hop in Australia is more diverse and fractured than ever before.  

Trem One has never identified with the notion that Australian hip hop could be considered a genre. Now “on the 40 side of 30”, the veteran Melbourne MC and producer has always understood his involvement in rap – which stretches back to his introduction to graffiti culture while riding the trains of Sydney’s west in the mid 80s and recently manifested in his reflective nonetheless sinister new record For the term of his natural life…– to be partial to a much wider movement.

“I still struggle with the term ‘Aussie hip hop’,”offers Trem, who politely refuses to give his real name.“I don’t think I’ve personally called it that, ever.”

“I don’t think it even needs to be mentioned – we are who we are, doing our version of it, and that’s all.”

It may seem like an odd statement to an outsider, but Trem’s assertion echoes the attitude of a generation of early Australian rappers who schooled themselves on the formative elements of hip hop culture – graffiti, break dancing and MCing – filtering out of New York City in the early 80s. For senior rhyme practitioners like Trem – let alone first generation crews like Sydney’s Def Wish Cast and Melbourne’s AKA Brothers and rugged underground MCs like Brad Strut and the recently retired Bias B –hip hop is a movement with a geographical, social and cultural lineage that begins in black, urban America. Trem and his like understand themselves as students and interpreters of the form, rather than forbearers of an ‘Oz hip hop’ genre.

“Can you believe some youngsters only listen to supposed ‘Ozzie hip hop’?” he urges disbelievingly. “Not only that, but they actually diss US rap…It’s just crazy.”

A mere glance at the breadth of hip hop’s class of 2011 would tend to support Trem’s thinking. The sheer breadth and diversity of records to have been released in the last 12 month would tend to suggest that local hip hop has transcended the idea of core community participants and audiences.

The stark loops, dusky atmospheres and gritty renderings of Melbourne’s criminal underbelly for which For the term of his natural life… was lauded in underground circles couldn’t exist on more distant creative orbit from the bouncing electro buzz and pop-riddled hooks that sent mischievous new-school Melbourne rapper 360’s new record Flying & Falling to the top of the ARIA album charts when it dropped in September. Likewise, Adelaide crew Funkoars’ brash, rocked-up, cheek-laden albumThe Quickening and Perth rapper Drapht’s chart-topping April release The Life of Riley could hardly be considered in the same breath as the brassy, soul-drenched tropes of Ru.CL’sBrimstone & Fire or longstanding Sydney collective The Herd’s typically political traversal of electronic textures, band aesthetics and pop on their fifth record Future Shade.

From the more polished, radio friendly aesthetic that has come to define Melbourne powerhouse Obese Records’ younger stable (including the likes of Dialectrix, Mantra, Thundamentals and Illy) to the more lateral material coming out of Sydney’s Elefant Traks (Joelistics’ soul-searching solo debut Voyagerand indigenous crew The Last Kinection’s pop and reggae-infused debut Nutches) and Big Village Records’ clutch of more playful acts (Ellesquire and Tuka included), hip hop’s tendrils are reaching so far and wide it’s near impossible to trace, let alone define.

“The core hip hop scene is not little tribe like it once was,” says Tim Levinson (aka Urthboy), MC with The Herd and label manager at Elefant Traks. “It once was real tribe – you had a village type atmosphere around the hip-hop scene and you tended to know others who were involved.”

Trem recalls a time in which “paying dues was paramount”. “Not everyone got along, far from it in fact…[but] there still seemed to be this sense of unity in the fact that we were all working towards the same goal,” he recalls.

Hip hop today – with its multitude of incarnations, styles, approaches and threads – might be better described in terms of a diaspora. It’s an idea Levinson, who frames ‘Oz hip hop’ as a lethargic industry and media-bred term, is happy to get behind.“There have been a number of different acts that have succeeded and taken hip hop in Australia to a new place as far as its popularity and reach and the industry recognition and clout that it has,” he says,“which has just allowed all the undergrowth – all the younger acts – to come through with a lot more confidence in actually pursuing it in their own way.”

“The diversity of the music and audience reflects the broader context of how music is appreciated these days. It’s almost a faux pas to talk about a genre in pure terms now.”

Indeed, there are plenty of distanthip hop devotees who sit completely outside of any real manifestation of what might be considered the Australian hip hop scene. DJ and producer Declan Kelly  (aka Dream Kit) is a member of production crew This Thing, an 18-strong collectiveand label that includes the talents of Galapagoose, Woogie, Ben Houghton, Mike Kay, Baba X, Andras Fox and Thomas William. Alongside Sydney artists like Jonti, they’re are morphing experimental, beats that echo of left-of-centre US hip hop producers such as Madlib, the late J Dilla, Dabrye and Flying Lotusinto positively bizarre, abstract and funk-laced terrains.

Kelly, whose love of hip hop came from mining older forms of black music like funk and soul, sees This Thing’s experimental outputs as part of something far larger than a localised genre.

“We’re influenced by a lot of people from Australia, but also a lot of people from overseas,” he says. “It’s about us but it’s about the world too.”

By Dan Rule


OZHH Awards 2011…

The annual awards were held over at ozhiphop.com just recently where FTTOHNL managed to scoop 6 awards.
We took honours for-

BEST ALBUM – FTTOHNL
BEST TRACK – Animal Kingdom 
BEST CLIP – Animal Kingdom
BEST MALE MC – Trem
BEST VERSE – Strut on Reminisce
BEST ALL ROUNDER – Trem 

 Thanks to all who nominated and voted for the release in the respective categories, again its good to see Hip Hop awards predominantly going to Hip Hop acts!