Wednesday, 25 September 2013 14:57

Sprung Festival 2013: Live Review

As the sun’s rays shone down from above, Brisbane’s Aussie hip hop massive descended on Victoria Park for the third incarnation of Sprung.

Arriving just in time for Melbourne’s Brad Strut I notice a crowd of hundreds gathered early, lapping up his every word while he fought the direct sunlight in his eyes. Rumours of Trem being there to take the stage for a Lyrical Commission reunion were proven unfounded but that didn’t stop the man they call Strutter putting in a heavy performance.

Thundamentals took to the second stage just as Horrorshow were finishing up on the main stage and were lucky enough to get a strong crowd for the majority of their set.

The Sydneysiders have carved out a nice little place for themselves, and from their relaxed but entertaining set it’s easy to see why. Playing tracks from both their albums as well as new single ‘Smiles Don’t Lie’ MCs Tuka and Jewson had the crowd flowing.

By this point the the sun had well and truly set and temperatures were quickly dropping. The punters enthusiasm was not dampened, though, with the appearance of Urthboy.

Fighting to keep his crowd against the popular Seth Sentry on the main stage, Urthboy pulled out all the stops for a highly entertaining and energetic show featuring lots of banter with the crowd and special guest Jane Tyrell, who arrived on stage during the second song to loud cheers from all over. Midway through, the set took an unexpected but special turn when Urthboy invited a friend out of the crowd, who took the mic and got down on one knee to propose to her boyfriend (he accepted)!

A small but enthusiastic crowd remained on the second stage in anticipation of Crate Cartel and were not disappointed as Maundz & Co proceeded to tear it up. The crowd increased dramatically during their show which only pumped them up even more, delivering probably the most intense set of the day. If the confidence and skill on display were any indication these guys won’t be on the second stages for much longer.

Lazy Grey and Jake Biz are Brisbane legends and the 750 Rebels put in another classic show that will only add to their reputation. Backed by DJ Lopsided they ran through tracks from both their careers with Lazy’s ‘That’s What Rap Is About’ and Jake’s vicious ‘Commercial Hell’ being standouts. Midway through the set they were joined by a pumped up Kings Konekted to the delight of the crowd who raised the bar with a stellar guest spot and opened the way for Jake to announce a new album from him and Lazy Grey called ‘Cold Heat’.

Some of the crowd made their way around to catch the end of a triumphant 360 who was headlining the main stage to a packed-out crowd hanging on his every word. Hip hop in Australia is showing no sign of slowing down.

Visit Scenestr for all the photos from the day!

Published in Urban
Wednesday, 04 September 2013 13:24

360: Everything Went Black

Some people are very hard to pick.

There's a persona 360 has cultivated of a brash, obnoxious, unapologetic stalwart of Aussie hip hop that permeates its way through every public appearance and every syllable spoken on a track. To be honest, before chatting to him on the phone it was this persona that I was expecting to encounter; I was bracing myself. In the end, it turns out he doesn't even answer the phone as ‘Sixty’; how did I not already know his name was Matt?

"Everyone sees a successful artist or musician and thinks they must just be living the life, everything must be amazing. But there's so much other shit going on behind the scenes that people don't know about. It's really hard to deal with suddenly going from that dude on the street that no one would look at twice to suddenly getting harassed a lot in public for photos."

Sixty isn't generally one to plaster his issues across the public space. Even having his photo taken in public has been something the rapper has had to come to terms with.

"This was in my time when I was not a very healthy person. I was a little bit anxious. [But] I still struggle with that shit. When everything first happened we had a gig in Perth. I went to a General Pants store before the gig but I didn't realise that it was just when school had finished. Someone came up for a photo and I was like ‘Yeah, no worries’. Next thing I look back and the whole shop is packed, full of kids waiting, just waiting. I had to go out the back door 'cause I couldn't really deal with it."

Sure, public relations can be tough, but at this point I wasn't convinced that Sixty actually had that much to deal with. I asked him what else was going on. I was not expecting to hear he was going blind.

"I've got a disease in my eyes. I had a transplant in my right eye, and I can't see really out of that at all. And now my left eye has just started going. So it's just a matter of time and then I'm gonna have to have another transplant and then I'll have fuck-all vision. I don't think it'll be 100 percent blind, it'll just be about 80 percent. I'll just see colours, it'll look like I'm underwater. That's what it looks like if I use my right eye. It's all good though, man! It could be a lot worse.

“I'm in a very good place now. There's no drug abuse which there was for the last four years. That shit's like a rollercoaster 'cause it's so much fun. It'd be a lie to say that it's not fun to do it but it slowly creeps up on you and becomes something that swallows you and becomes part of your life. You battle with it so many times. It's a fucking nightmare to really go through it. But I feel like a changed person. I've gotten off everything apart from marijuana because I don't think that's that bad."

Perhaps brighter days are ahead, even if Sixty has had to accept the prospect of living them in darkness. He's been keeping himself busy, excited by the prospect of a follow-up to 'Falling And Flying'. His next album will be even bigger, he tells me, even after I remind him he's talking about an LP that went platinum four times over. And then there's the elephant in the room, an elephant by the name of Pez.

“We've always planned to [do an album] together. So the plan is for his album to drop at the end of this year, my album to drop early next year and then for us to work on a Forthwrite album for next year as well. It's definitely gonna happen. One hundred percent. It's just depending on when it comes out, it depends on how long it takes to work.

"Me and Pez are very different in the way we work. It's actually really good. Pez tends to put a bit of time into his shit. Sometimes he puts a bit too much into it. He's such a perfectionist, that's just what he does. I'm the opposite of that; once one thing's done, if it sounds good I just leave it, I don't go back to it. But then when we're together we bring the best out of each other. I get him to just chill out and he gets me to become more of a perfectionist.”

360 headlines Sprung Festival at Victoria Park Saturday September 21. sprunghiphop.com.au

Published in Urban
Wednesday, 28 August 2013 16:55

Savo: Top Five Tracks Right Now

1. ‘Over Here’ — Partynextdoor feat. Drake. Anyone who knows me knows how much of a Drake fan I am, and I was really excited to hear about Drake co-signing a new artist and pretty keen to have a listen. I must say I’m loving this sound. This track is easily my most played track for the last two weeks.

2. ‘Kiss Land’ — The Weeknd. As usual, The Weeknd is back with another one of his unique styled songs. ‘Kiss Land’ is a huge favourite of mine, simply because the way he seems to structure and flow with the beat. I am addicted to his unique sound and I don't think anything he'll put out will ever disappoint me.

3. ‘Make A Mill’ — Partynextdoor. This is pretty much the first solo song I've heard from Drake's new artist, Partynextdoor, and I am already addicted to his sound, which is very similar to The Weeknd's. I am really looking forward to what he will release in the future, I can see this guy becoming a really big artist, not just in the States, but the whole world.

4. ‘Objects In The Mirror’ — Mac Miller. This is by far one of my favourite tracks from Mac’s new album. I really like this one in particular because it's different to what he usually does. Instead of rapping, he brings his singing back, similar to what he does in his jazz songs. All in all, I’m really liking this new direction.

5. ‘Money Trees’ — Kendrick Lamar. I just feel like I can’t supply a Top 5 without including a track from Kendrick. Such a big inspiration in what I do with music, and I can really relate to a lot of his songs.

Savo plays Sprung Festival at Victoria Park September 21. sprunghiphop.com.au

 

Published in Urban
Wednesday, 14 August 2013 15:50

Drapht: The Perfect Menu

Needing a retreat from the stress of the daily grind, Perth MC Drapht — aka Paul Reid — has turned his deft hand to grinding coffee beans at his new café to cope.

Fans don’t need to worry, though, as he’ll still be in Brisbane to destroy the stage at this year’s Sprung Festival with DJ Rob Shaker. 

“I am a hands on owner… The first couple of months in any business, you have to put your all into it. It’s all my inspiration, all my recipes and basically the way I’ve been living for the last ten years or so.”

A place to drench your arteries in burger fat it is not, Paul being a strict adherent to holistic health, a ramification of his battle with auto-immune and thyroid issues that make him wince at the sight of pasteurised dairy, table salt and processed sugar. We discuss the similarities between a track list and a menu.

“With the café, it’s the same sort of creative energy, but in a different avenue. It feels like I’m working with Trials, Suffa or Ta-Ku. That’s like me working with the chef, coming up with all these lists of ingredients seeing what works and doesn’t work. It gives me a bit of time to take away from the pressure of my music, but still have that creative outlook on something different.”

As a self-described perfectionist, and the ‘Life Of Riley’ album leading him to the brink of insanity, it’s easy to picture Drapht blowing blood vessels like Gordon Ramsay perusing a burnt tomato. However, Paul has learnt to keep this in check over the years.

“I’m trying my hardest not to [give in], I’ve grown up being very hard on myself with anything I’ve done creative wise. Perfectionism is not a nice thing, it’s not something to pride yourself on. I’ve learnt within the last five years I need to give myself a bit of a break and not go overboard.

“If it’s with my music, I can sit there with a song for weeks on end trying to get it perfect, but no one’s going to notice the difference. Those extra days you put into it, it’s not even worth it, no one appreciates that extra length you go to.

“You put yourself through the ringer to please everyone but yourself. Your health is unfortunately the catalyst of that, and you end up being the person most affected by it. By no means would I ever do that to myself again, there’d be no slaving for 18 hours a day on an album anymore. That’s why I want to work on music the way I used to work on music.”

We talk about how the process has changed over the years, from the angst driven young Perth rapper leaking out of ‘Pale Rider’, to the ARIA success of ‘Brothers Grimm’ and the trappings of fame.

“I started writing music when I was 17 and I spent every waking moment on it that I wasn’t working because I loved it. After the success of ‘Brothers Grimm’, I had to push myself to write the whole ‘Life Of Riley’ record. It turned into a job and I hated it, I hated that aspect of music and I hated what it became after it was successful… I wanted to strip everything back and really get the love back and use music as the venting process that it was.”

Paul cites the release of ‘Tasty’ with Ta-Ku as one of these opportunities. A surprise for many, the song’s trap style beat and hard hitting rhythm were a far cry from the sample driven ‘Life Of Riley’, but the track perfectly captures the notion of breathing new life back into the creative process.

Looking forward to Sprung, whose line-up reads like a who’s who of local hip hop, Drapht is happy to be back on stage surrounded by his peers.

“It’ll be like having Wu-Tang on stage with the amount of guests I’m going to have for Brisbane and Melbourne. I’ve been touring with a live band for the last six years. They are some of my closest friends, but this time they can’t come out. So I’m going to flip it up and take it back to where I started, have some MCs and a DJ, that’s the formula. It will be nice to get back to those roots.

“It’s throwing me out of my comfort zone a little bit, and I’m a little bit nervous not having the band behind me.”

With all eyes on Paul, I ask whether his perfectionist tendencies make it harder for him to perform solo.

“You’re not helping me whatsoever here,” he laughs. “You’re putting fear into my head, even more anxiousness.”

Drapht plays Sprung Festival at Victoria Park September 21.

Published in Urban
Wednesday, 07 August 2013 15:09

Urthboy: Politically Minded

Five years ago Urthboy was beginning to worry about the future of the music business.

At Elefant Traks, the Sydney-based independent hip hop record label he helped co-found, the internet was beginning to bite and sales of physical product were losing traction. Life on the indie frontline looked bleak.

But cut to 2013 and everything’s changed. Elefant Traks are coming off one of the most successful years in the label’s history. 2012 delivered a breakthrough for Hermitude, the DJ project of Luke ‘Dubs’ Dubber and Angus ‘El Gusto’ Stuart — their fourth album ‘HyperParadise’ crossing over into the mainstream media – as well as the release of Urthboy’s own LP, ‘Smokey’s Haunt’, which itself went on to rack up the critical plaudits.

“2012 was a combination of lots of hard work and a few things going our way,” explains Urthboy, who in label guise is better known as Tim Levinson. “You’re working alongside artists like Hermitude for ten years before they really start to shake up a more mainstream audience, [and] when it finally does happen and you’re working behind the scenes alongside them, it’s really invigorating and just gives you that reassurance that, first of all, what we’re doing is worthwhile, and secondly, nice guys do finish first sometimes.”

Particularly satisfying was the AIR award for Best Label. Essentially, it meant other labels had been voting for Elefant Traks, acknowledging their achievements.

“That other labels think we’re doing a good job – that makes us all have a little bit more of a spring in our step when we’re working. But you reflect on those things and use it as a way of reinforcing your own belief in what you’re doing … I think the fact that we’re all invested in it and believe in what Elefant Traks is trying to do is a far greater incentive than all those things.”

And compared to the gloomy days half a decade ago? A lot of labels slipped under the waters, but Elefant Traks adapted and have since grown their business.

“Our digital ratio of sales is far higher than our physical now,” Urthboy explains. “So it seems that the audiences who embrace Elefant Traks have long since discarded physical product. So we’ve been close to those changes that have affected the industry and sometimes in a negative way. We have more staff rather than less, we have more projects to work on and we feel like there are more things out there that we haven‘t tried out yet. And our overheads – despite the fact that we’ve got more staff – are so low that we can move and adapt.”

As Elefant Traks’ stock has risen, so has Urthboy’s – but not just as an artist or businessman. His label’s thoughtful approach to rap music continues to draw followers, even when the smart money would be on the enlivening, widescreen hip hop of acts such as Hilltop Hoods, Bliss N Eso and 360. Elefant Traks artists aren’t afraid to sign their name to a cause, and as label head, Urthboy is often called upon to do the talking. So you have his appearance on ABC Television’s popular talk show ‘Q&A’ earlier this year — something he describes in encouraging tones as a learning experience.

“I’m all about getting involved and I feel sad for people who pull themselves out of a dialogue,” he says. “Each to their own: people can do what they like, but I’m just a personality that likes to get involved. I’m an empathetic person; I share the concerns I’ve had with my own career with my artists and the artists that I look after. I always come from that angle and want to get involved. And politics is no different: naturally we’re going to be a little rough around the edges and not be polished media players, but that’s OK. You’ve just got to keep that option open.”

[Ed’s note: This article first appeared in Scene February 27, 2013]

Urthboy Headlines Sprung Festival alongside 360 and Drapht Saturday September 21. Sprunghiphop.com.au

Published in Urban
Wednesday, 17 July 2013 17:05

Bam Bam- Bedrock's Golden Boy

From spinning on his back to spitting on tracks, breakdancer and musician Bam Bam has got it all figured out.

With plans already in motion to create a record of his own, the young Melbourne artist strives to be different. Choosing the right beats is a lengthy process, but one he says should eventually pay off.

“I've got a really unique taste in what I like, I don't really want to pigeonhole myself as just a hip hop artist. When I look for beats for the album, I'm more looking for whatever my ears prick up to, from electronic dance, to straight up hip hop stuff to acoustic guitar type shit. I just try and get as many people to send me as much stuff as they can and hopefully find the gems I'm searching for.

“I'll definitely be releasing more free material, but at the moment I want to focus more on the business side of things. So far everything is going according to plan.”

After releasing two mixtapes of his own and supporting close friend 360 both in Australia and overseas, it's evident he's not a shy guy on the mic. But he admits his own material wasn't always well received.

“Ages back I was doing a heap of music but there was no market for it and nobody liked it. One of the main reasons why I actually thought about giving music a real go in the last couple of years was because I think Australia's ready for it now.”

Hip hop throughout the country has most definitely taken a step in the right direction; adding to the list of success is Sprung Festival. It's an event that showcases hip hop talent of all different tastes and styles — it's something Bam can appreciate.

“Having a festival like Sprung probably wouldn't have worked so well many years ago, but now Australian hip hop is accepted by the mainstream market and the younger generation, it's awesome to see,” he says.

“I'm amped about having it in my home town, that's going to be crazy. I've got a bunch of really cool shit planned so I hope it's a show that people don't forget anytime soon. I'm not gonna fire myself out of a cannon or anything, but there'll be some hectic stuff going on.”

Bam Bam plays Sprung Festival at Victoria Park September 21. sprunghiphop.com.au

Published in Urban
Thursday, 11 July 2013 00:00

Sprung Festival Tickets

In 2013 Sprung Festival returns to Brisbane for a third straight year; and with it a line-up boasting some of the country’s hottest hip hop acts at the moment.

Topping the bill are 360, Drapht and Seth Sentry while other interstaters include: Funkoars, Urthboy, Horrowshow, Thundamentals, Brad Strut, All Day, Purpose and Dialectrix.

The local scene is fronted by Lazy Grey, Jake Biz and DJ Dcide plus Mr Hill & Rahjconkas and Chelsea Jane.

To win a double pass to the Saturday September 21 event at Victoria Park This competition has closed
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Terms and Conditions:

1. Winners will be drawn at random at 12pm Thursday 18th July at Level 2, 192-210 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley. [Winner drawn]
2. Winners will be notified by e-mail.
3. Entrants' email address will not be used for any other purpose except the conduct of this competition.

Published in Competition
Wednesday, 10 July 2013 15:14

Lazy Grey: Me And The Biz

Lazy Grey has so much to say that he barely stops to take a breath.

His answers to my enquiries stream forth like pages torn from a dozen different cultural theses, taped together to form their own manifesto. There are no simple answers, it seems. Instead, everything is a complex issue that Lazy needs to deconstruct and analyse, piece by piece. Having been active as both an MC and producer on the Brisbane hip hop for the better part of two decades, Lazy Grey has had plenty of time to ponder the state of the music world and his place within it.

"The hip hop scene in Brisbane is still growing. There's a lot of different branches these days [compared] to what there used to be, a lot of different sounds coming out. In general I think it's healthy. I haven't got anything negative to say at all! At the end of the day everyone chooses what to listen to; if you don't like it, don't listen to it. I think people now are being really business-minded about how they present themselves, particularly with the way they use digital media. And, you know, I think it's gonna keep growing. Things come in growth spurts. Just when you think that this is as far as it can get there's always gonna be someone who comes out and instils your faith back in it again and makes you say, ‘Damn, these guys just took it to the next level’. I reckon it's on the up and up still."

Talking about the development of hip hop in Brisbane from its early days of breaking and painting trains, Lazy sounds like a proud father. He is, after all, one of the founding figures of the scene, and has remained prolific even if it has meant making sacrifices along the way.

"To be honest most of us have full-time jobs or have other things going on to get money. We don't live off this music."

Most of us have lost track of the collaborations that Lazy has formed over the years; even he has some trouble remembering them all. But it's his latest studio pairing with Jake Biz that's given him a second wind, adding some fuel to his tank and some syllables to his rhymes.

"In the last two years I've refocused a lot of the things that I've been doing and taken a lot of inspiration from Jake Biz and seeing what [he's] done in the last couple of years. Especially with this latest release that [Jake Biz and I[ are working on... we've been in the studio now for six months and I've found myself upping the ante and being pushed to keep writing and do better.

"I've known him since he was recording demos ten years back. When we're on stage presenting the stuff that we record I think Jake's got a very strong stage presence. He has the hunger — he's never comfortable to do just enough, he always wants to push it."

Lazy speaks of the 'hunger' as if it underpins everything that he and Jake Biz do; as if, without it, both of them are destined to pack up their equipment and head back to the nine to five world. Perhaps it's the result of seeing so many others come and go that has left MCs like Lazy with the will to overcome the odds.

"You always gotta stay updated. After doing it for so long, if you start resting on your laurels and think that you've taken it to a level and that's it and you don't try to push any further, you get stale. You get stagnant and people hear it. I'm surrounding myself with like-minded people, even younger people, and getting inspiration from them."
Lazy may not be resting on his laurels, but the production side of his persona does seem to be taking a break.

"I'm not doing it as much, I still get in there most weeks and dig for records and load up the MPC. I still make beats but no one really hears them; I'll have a night off and just make beats for the fun of it."

Lazy Grey and Jake Biz perform at Sprung Festival in Brisbane on Saturday September 21.

Published in Urban
Wednesday, 14 November 2012 14:17

Sprung Festival: Live Review

Despite the rain, enthusiasm for the second annual Sprung Hip Hop Festival wasn’t dampened among punters or the artists themselves.

With the mainstage housed under a huge, permanent structure (that could easily fit several Boeing 747s), the early acts were welcomed by a vocal and well populated crowd, with Seth Sentry and Mantra (arriving on time despite a cancelled flight) getting the juices flowing early on.

Outside, several shirtless guys did their best Woodstock, mud-diving impressions while local lad Evil Eddie had a small, but appreciative audience glued to the soggy ground.

Back inside, TZU brought the musicianship up a notch, Joelistics once more showcasing why he’s one of Aussie hip hop’s most versatile word slingers, while Tuka, Jeswon and Morganics made sure everyone knew that the Thundamentals were in town.

Pez and Illy followed, their enthusiasm and love for the crowd evident with numerous shout-outs littering their respective sets, the fading light only heralding that the headliners from Adelaide weren’t far away.

Big ups to the folks at Sprung... two years running you’ve staged the premier hip hop event in this country. Here’s to many more years and maybe, just maybe a national tour in 2013. Pez, Thundamentals and Mantra have signed on already... that’s if you’ll have them again.

By: The Matchstick

Seven has clear, precise, and well-rehearsed vocals. He played songs from his first EP, 'Floated', and some newer remix releases. The crowd knew the words and at every chance joined in. Seven, backed by Mr Hill, threw inflatable pool toys into the audience to charge up the crowd.

DJ Joyride started Spit Syndicate’s show fiercely. He brought the dripping wet crowd in and Spit Syndicate stepped out and made them shake the water off. SS had an aura of experience around them but are surprisingly young. They fought the rain off and showed love to the Sprung crowd for making it out. Playing new and classic songs they made the crowd jump as the sun was setting. SS work off each other effortlessly, like natural partners.

As the Hilltop Hoods chants rang out, the stage was backlit with smoke in a red and blue silhouette, the trio entered to deep, ominous music. Aggressive from the start the Hoods kept pace with the crowd's high expectations. It was like Hilltop had ADHD, they were jumping and running around stage; speaking to, then yelling at the crowd imploring them to dance more. 'Down The Hard Road' had the whole crowd singing in unison, before they paused mid show building anticipation before playing 'People In The Front Row'. And like a warhorse trained for battle Hilltop knew where they needed to be and when. There were so many hands in the air I think everyone left Sprung with bigger biceps.

BY: Harry Patchett
Published in Urban
Wednesday, 31 October 2012 15:50

Seven: Top Five

Albums from my Tween years.

1. The Butterfly Effect: ‘Begins Here’. As an unfortunate looking teen, I thought that if I could sing like Clint Boge girls would love me. Huge sound and intensity in that ‘Begins Here’ record and in their first EP.

2.
New Found Glory: ‘Sticks And Stones’.  Music about girls. Music about girls. Music about girls. Music about girls. Music about girls. Music about girls.

3.
Hilltop Hoods: ‘The Calling’. One of the first handful of Australian hip hop records I bought as a kid. Safe to say I aspired for that status from then on… after all, I can’t sing like Clint Boge.

4.
Atmosphere: ‘You Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re Having’. Just the ultimate anti-thesis to the Eminem plague/ fever at the time. No gimmicks, minimal hyperbole hip hop music from real life.

5.
Lazy Grey: ‘Banned In Queensland’. Undoubtedly the godfather of the Queensland hip hop scene. Crazy good lyricist and relatable while making me feel like a bad man. ‘BIQ’ was the epitome of loud, drive-with-the-window-down music for us as trouble makers. Good times.

Seven performs at Sprung Festival on Saturday November 10 at the RNA Showgrounds.

Published in Urban
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