Ain't Got Time To Waster
With a debut album ready to drop and another one already written, Sydney MC Undertow is en route to Brisbane City to get busy.
There are some people you come across from time to time who are so focused on what they're working towards they don't even know how to fail any more. They take control of the situation they're in and adapt to their environment. They get their eight hours every night because they believe, at the end of the day, that they've achieved what they set out to do. And they dream of bigger and better things.
Sydney MC Undertow didn't share the subjects of his dreams over the course of our 20 minute phone conversation (not the first thing strangers typically share outside of a therapy session), but the energy emanating from him was indicative of someone that doesn't need to sleep to dream. He visualises success and makes it happen.
Over the course of his more than ten-year career as an MC, both in hip hop as well as over drum and bass and breaks, he has toured the country extensively on the merit of winning Triple J 'Unearthed' in the category of drum n bass/ grime/ electronica under the genre-specific alias of DTech MC for act Kobra Kai, as well as supporting innumerable international drum n bass heavweights who have had their passports stamped on our shores.
But it's with the pending release of his debut album 'Mind Believing' that sees Undertow ready to break out of the gate and chase that fluffy white bunny down the rails 'til his legs fail him. But then, we know how he feels about failure. So eager was the man that he took control of the conversation before it had even started - asking if it would be alright to send through a CD for better preparation of the interview, intent on making this (his third or fourth phone interview for the afternoon) as purposeful as possible. Scene had received a copy of the new album, I learned. Unsurprisingly, it had already been checked out for review. It would be my loss: the one full track plus album promo snippet on his MySpace would whet any hip hop purist's appetite.
Speaking about his initiation into hip hop, it could have been anyone's story; that familiar tale, though all the more comforting for it, recounting of days spent as a teenager, either getting up to no good or nothing much at all - skating, tagging and ciphering in the park. For Undertow this is no longer very recent history but his memories are held onto fondly.
â€œI used to stuff around,â€ he says of his humble beginnings during the mid 90s. â€œYou know â€¦ trying to freestyle. We were inspired by artists more like the Beastie Boys and stuff, and people like that from the early days. And then I met some skaters that were into hip hop. Like, good stuff, like Wu and Nas, and they were all 'Tommy Hilfigered' up,â€ he laughs.
It is clear from his go-get-'em attitude, though, that they were only that: memories. His tireless work ethic has seen him progress into a well-rounded and topically diverse MC, and one deserving of the title 'artist'. Having originally played guitar and written songs for a more Webster's-defined band, he has since made the transition into the hip hop genre and embraced it for its honesty, injecting his own into it. On 'Mind Believing', he has used the medium to address important issues, either his own or those of society at large.
While touching on the impact of topics such as mental illness and the untimely passing of close friends, Undertow still exudes positivity and returns to the idea of remaining positive routinely. â€œWe can all rap as hard as we want and talk about whatever we want â€¦ but at the end of the day, if the music's not positive then the music's not gonna go anywhere,â€ he muses. â€œAnd if the music doesn't go anywhere, as an artist, I don't go anywhere. Positivity can be seen in a lot of different ways. Pushing yourself and pushing your music - that's what it's about. Positivity is a big thing for me.â€
Undertow is launching his debut album â€˜Minds Believingâ€™ at Step Inn May 14; Shark Bar Miami May 15; Buddha Bar Byron May 21; Coolum Beach Hotel May 22. The album is out through Foreign Dub/ Vitamin now.