“The Stage Is Set…” A Decade On (Pt.1)

Incredibly, last week marked 10 years since my team and I unleashed on the public our debut release as a crew. The Stage Is Set dropped in December 2002 and went on to not only arguably spawn a generation of MC’s and Producers but continues to be rated as a certified classic in the eyes and ears of many in this country, from the bedroom rappers and  indy emcees  to the major acts headlining sold out arenas.
The fact the albums a decade old seems crazy as I still vividly remember the days and nights spent in my Elwood flat producing, writing, recording and mixing feverishly to complete what began as throwing a few tracks together to constructing an album with a release date.

The Commission was loosely formed a few years earlier, a collective of MC’s from varying parts of the city, we had a lot in common and had been good friends for a few years prior to forming the one crew. Focusing initially on slaying all on the lyrical tip the idea was to come together as our mindsets were similar, skills on par and we all shared the same view to deliver unmatched live sets.
The thought of producing an album was still a while off, so tackling the live circuit off the back of my 12’s and Struts Authentic LP along with various compilation tracks was a good start point, aside from the feature joints we were all on, we threw random verses together and made up unofficial joints, flippin em over jacked instros.
This worked well for a minute, but as the interest in L.C grew and the shows multiplied we felt the need to up the ante and construct official crew songs.

Demo Derby off Strutters debut solo was the first track I had complete control over from the production to recording and mixing. Id done a lot of co-pro and recording with Jase and Prowlz in the 90’s but the thought of tackling an entire album on that tip was next level. At the time I was still using the old Akai DR4 to record vox and after lacing what would go on to be the first track dedicated to the LP, Balans’ “Problem With Balans”, I made the monumental jump (with nuff encouragement from my homie Prowla) from the mind fuck of bouncing tracks in the DR4 to a PC set up for the visual and streamline unlimited track recording and mixing.

This jump had its own fair share of head fucks just getting it off the ground and I was borderline bout to jump back onto the digital 4 track, but thankfully we ironed out the bugs and a whole new world of recording seemed to unfold leading to the decision we should go for self and construct an album from go to woe, in house.

The Hip Hop culture had a rich history in Melbourne since the early eighties but for some reason the rap music element to the culture was slow at progressing to a worldwide standard. Although the scene itself had seemed to grow rapidly in the past 5 or so years, and a handful were most definately operating correctly, the quality control of the bulk of what was being written, recorded, released and supported was still miles behind the N.Y’s, L.A’s and U.K at the time in my eyes, so the defining factor that I wanted our release to have would be just that, a world class comparison.
A low budget bedroom studio and my first foray into complete control over recording and mixing would obviously mean the sound side of things would remain a little raw and dusty, but the crux of the product, the beats, rhymes and cuts had to be taken to a level previously unseen here.

To be continued…


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