Sunday, December 30, 2012

Things I Didn't Do This Year

I want to write a memoir commemorating all the new friendships and amazing experiences that have grown out of this year. Moving to Sydney has changed my life and put me into a new mindset where I can actually remember who I am and I can start to work out what I want from life and accomplish things I had only dreamed of in the past. Seeing so many people working together to accomplish their individual dreams and and working with groups that are like family and are equal to more than the sum of their parts has been so inspirational for me. Being an outsider that has so easily become accepted into this small scene, not just as a fan but as a friend, has changed my whole perspective of the music scene in Australia. Yes there are problems and there is drama like in every social group but overall from what I have seen the hip hop artists in Sydney have so much respect for each other and are very accepting and supportive of each other.
I want to go through some of the highlights of the year just briefly. This is a different sort of entry because I am typing all of this on my phone. It's not going to look as pretty as usual. Although I want to focus on the good parts of this year, I do want to bring up some of the things that I failed at this year so that I have the inspiration to better myself in the next year. Next year I need to use what I have learned to manifest physically my goals.

Best of 2012

Deciding to move to Sydney early in January after spending the night on the beach with Cathy- from our apartment in parramatta to walking the headland at sunrise, it certainly was a weekend to remember.

The Herd and the Thundamentals at Manning Bar Sydney Uni- this was my first concert since moving to Sydney. The best intro to Sydney life and how to act casual when meeting semi- famous people. Of course I also found out that night that semi-famous as well. Well, "twitter famous" anyway, for what it's worth..

Funkoars supported by Def Wish Cast and Ellesquire - me and Kathy really bust onto the scene that night. We met so many good people that night, Kathy with coconut bag in tow.

Spit syndicate at Star Casino - the guy in the plaid shirt, one dayers in action

Atmosphere supported by Evidence and Horrorshow - my first time seeing the most influential hip hop group on me that really started all of it. Slug is my favourite emcee and he really delivered that night. It was so great to see Horrorshow perform with them since Solo is such a huge Rhymesayers fan.

Come together festival - a chance for oz hip hop to really shine and showcase its talent. I didn't quite agree with the headliner this year but there were many stars shining bright.

Last Kinection and Daily Meds at the Annandale- a really important night and our first night getting to know the Big Village crew

Getting my tattoo on my birthday Friday July 13th- seeing Sky'High maybe wasn't the best night ever but it was an experience.

Rainman supported by Daily Meds and Mothership- arguably the best night of the year. Rainman is one of the most underrated emcees in Australia. I love the message he pushes in each song. But it was late that night making tea that something really life changing happened to me.

Spaceport hip hop nights - the best venue, and the most interesting, open, and incredible people in Sydney all shared something through those doors. From the first night there I felt like family.

State Advanced "28" album launch - the Canadian part of Broken Thought Theory, all of Mothership crew was out. My absolute favourite people in Sydney. I felt like I knew everyone for years as soon as we met and that's when you know it's something special.

Big Village at Oxford Arts Factory, Newcastle, and most important Katoomba - Read my blog entry about these nights, such incredible energy in this crew.

P Smurf with Broken Thought Theory supporting - the two best crews in Sydney and all the people that mean the most to me in one place.

Tuka at the Annandale- one of the funnest nights, it made missing out on Brother Ali not so bad as we danced the night away. Tuka is a very talented and twisted individual that never compromises who he is for who people think he should be. He shines.

Kendrick Lamar one of the hottest hip hop acts in the world right now. It was an honor to see him and feel his energy even from the nosebleed section.

So that is a lot of highlights! And that isn't even everything!! Just goes to show what an amazing and busy year that I have had this year and all because I moved to Sydney to find myself again. Of course the biggest highlight of the year was all the new friends that I have made. I don't have space to list everyone here but you all know who you are and you are so special to me.

Now here are a few of the things that I slacked on and should have grabbed and taken more advantage of...

Firstly I always meant the blog to be a weekly thing and that was a complete failure. Most months I turned out two entries because I put so much time into them. I'd like the improve on that, even if some entries end up a lot shorter.

I was asked to do a hip hop podcast with a friend in wollongong and I always regretted not going down to do it.

After going to so many shows this year the one that I really regret missing was Brother Ali, one of the most unique emcees in the world.

As some of you may know, I have been saying for months and months now that I was going to start rapping, after jumping in on my first cypher at a party. Well I've been slowly working on it but I need to get into it a lot more.

And super importantly I have greatly missed my connection with nature after moving to Sydney. I came here for the people and I found them, but I miss the ocean and I wish I had found my way there a bit more frequently this year. And connected to that I haven't meditated or worked on my spiritual beliefs enough this year. Especially with December the 21st being so important this year I was expecting a lot more from myself.

And of course as I sit here alone at 10:30 pm on December the 31st 2012, I missing my best friend Kathy who went through all of this transformation with me and was always there for me when I needed her this year. And I'm not there with her on her birthday and it's killing me that I didn't make it to Peat's Ridge with her.

But here I am now, not sad that I'm having a quiet one tonight because I'm getting a head start on completing all my goals for next year as all of you spend the first day of the year nursing epic hangovers.

Now for a couple sips of wine and some deep meditation. Happy New Year to all of you lovely people.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

December Countdown

The calendar this month for once isn't as full as usual. However, all shows this month are closer to my heart and more important than usual. I guess it's that time of year..

Thursday 13th Skase a.k.
In celebration of the release of his latest album “The Poet,” Skase is getting the whole crew together to perform an intimate show just for you. And what a crew it is! Don't expect just the norm on this one. Skase has got a showcase of Sydney's best artists to show you including the legendary young duo called Hometeam in the support slot. These shows are always such a joyous family affair. Everyone gets involved and rarely will there will be only one person on stage. The love in the room will be something everyone can feel. Skase puts his whole heart into this, and he doesn't do anything by half. You can feel the sincerity and honesty in every word, the lyrics are openly political and the message is one that needs to be told. Listen closely, it's real.
El Rocco, Kings Cross

Friday 14th Homebrew
Because I missed the show at the Factory Theatre earlier this year, and the fact that I've only ever heard good things about them ever since, I was keen to go to this show. However, as I just found out today, this New Zealand group's “The Bender” tour has been postponed indefinitely, to sometime in the new year. And then there is mention on twitter that Homebrew is no more. Anyone have the official story on this one, for once I'm lost.
The Standard

Tuesday 18th Sketch the Rhyme
Mr. Rapport & Ellesquire AKA Loose Change
So what is Sketch the rhyme? Simply put it's : rapping games to keep your mind awake. Originally it was just a far fetched idea that blossomed 4 years ago out of the strange and twisted mind of Joel Rapaport, co founder and creative director of Big Village records. From there it took flight, and what it is now, is very hard to define. It's a crew of about 13 very talented people, including rappers, artists, and band members. What it is each time it's preformed is totally different as it's an improvised game show which is constantly evolving. Basically it involves rappers freestyling while artists free draw pictures to create stories, but there are many different games involved. The whole experience is like a freestyle itself in that you don't know where it's going to end up, and what direction it will take is totally up to the artists and the crowd response. It could go well or not so well depending on the night. It's something different every time you see it. And so if you don't get down to the Newtown hotel to see it this time, you will have wasted the opportunity because it will never be exactly like this ever again.
Newtown Hotel, 7pm

Thursday 20th Kendrick Lamar 
Saying something like, “he's coming straight out of Compton” would be quite cliché. But that's my favourite song on the new album at the moment and of course it's featuring Dr. Dre. In a gross underestimate of the demand for tickets here in little old Australia, the venues for Kendrick's first Australian tour had to be changed to larger ones in every city. The dates were also changed which leaves Kendrick in Melbourne for December 21st. Read whatever you want into that I guess. I'm new to listening to Kendrick but since his new album good kid, m.A.A.d city came out and even before that it was the name I heard most coming out of the mouths of people that I very much respect and know what they are talking about musically. So if you're in it for the love then you probably already know what I'm talking about and the Enmore will be sold out with just fans of real hip hop.
Enmore Theatre

Saturday 22nd- Big Village Xmas Party
Daily Meds coming at ya
With my family overseas and my work Christmas party an expensive, awkward joke, this is going to pretty much be the most fun I have over the holidays this year. Of course the fact that this takes place during the period of the so called alignment when everyone will be the most open to change and has the potential to experience the greatest sensation of oneness yet possible, just makes it all the more awesome than it is already. This very talented group of people already has the ability to make the crowd bounce, and feel, and Love. Now come along and watch what happens when we all hit that higher vibration. I feel like this is the Christmas party to attend this year.
Goodgod Smallclub
$15 presale includes free download of Big Village sampler “Wrapped Up”
$20 on the door

29th December- 1st January- Peat's Ridge Festival
It's my birthday, bitches! Don't you know??
AKA Kathy's birthday celebration!! Kathy turns 22 this year on the 31st and she's never has a quiet one. This year she's having her own 3 day camping festival to celebrate! So head up and count in the new year with her. (PS if I'm not there it's only because the work people are assholes, you know I want to be hunnie.)
Peat's Ridge is more than just a music festival. It's an explosion of art, music, film and costumes. It's a celebration of life. There's singing, dancing, yoga, massages and there's even workshops on sustainability and healthy mind and body. So you can have a very full and busy day or you can just relax by the river. There's too many music acts to name so just head on over to their webpage to check it.
Hip hop for your listening pleasure: The Herd, The Daily Meds, Tuka, Jones Jr., The Tongue, Skryptcha, Hiatus Kaiyote, Mogz n Kye and DJ sets by DJ Morgs, Roleo, and more, More, MORE!
There's so much to discover and explore here, it's like a world all on it's own.
Glenworth Valley, NSW one hour north of Sydney
3 day camping tickets: $340
1 day ticket: $145  

Link me up

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

December 21st 2012: A Guide For Survival

Whatever you've heard about how the world is about to end, it's not true. This isn't a movie. This isn't the end of society. The sun won't explode. The magnetic fields won't reverse. The earth won't get sucked into a wormhole. However what will happen is an event so massive that it will be imprinted in the human consciousness forever. With the alignment of the Sun, the Earth, and the black hole at the centre of the galaxy, we will be in the perfect position to receive a vibration that could change the world. What we have is an opportunity.

So you may have noticed that this blog has been pretty quiet lately. I assure you that's only due to slight case of writer's block. I have been busy processing everything internally. This life. This city. The music. The fate of humanity. Consciousness. The last month has been hectic like always and I've been learning more and more about this art form lifestyle evolution of mind and spirit known as Hip Hop. And yet there's so many avenues that I've yet to even peek around the corner of, let alone venture down those twisted roads and hidden passageways. We know it's a puzzle and there's so many pieces to examine, each important in its own way, contributing to the bigger picture, and once we're done we will stand back and admire it without having to explain. It's an interconnecting web, like universal consciousness itself. I know that I'm just a beginner in this whole scene. I was dropped into this microcosm of the movement known as Sydney, Australia from places unknown. And maybe what we find here isn't a good representation of the whole but it's done it's job in increasing my understanding and widening my spectrum. There might be a long way to go, but this scene is finally broadening and spreading it's wings. Finally touching on topics that are important for everyone and sparking a discussion. It's only whispered now, and stuck beneath the underground, but soon it will be loud.

And mostly because it has to be. Here we are on the brink of the most important time in our human history, literally here we are teetering over the edge. If you agree that Time is an illusion then this event will be the realisation of the One Moment. We just need to make it last as long as we can.

I've heard that people are having different reactions to what we feel is coming. Some feel an amazing burst of Love as if something incredible is happening. I wish I could feel this. I know we should only be projecting Hope and Positive Energy into this thing, but for some reason I can't help but feel Dread. It's got to be all that dead weight draining. It's like we are being sucked into a drain, free falling and also spiraling. Events occur closer and closer together. Our perception of Time is actually shortening as we near the edge of the precipice.

The 21st won't be the end of the world, or the end of society, yet rather a shift in consciousness and a shift in perception. The end of this Mayan calendar coincides with the end of an age. And with the end comes the beginning of something we can barely imagine now. We will transform from feeling like separate beings to the realisation that we are One. Each a piece of a whole that adds up to more than just the sum of its parts. As we all feel the same vibration, we will then wake up with the same idea, a sudden epiphany.  What we make of it and if it lasts is up to us. 

Everyone will possess the answers of how to live and how to be. This is true enlightenment. No matter what path you have chosen to get there it was the right one. All the knowledge in the world together makes God. And so we need everyone fulfilling every story, and waking up on the same level to recognise that we are all one being, and God is in all of us. Whatever you want to call it, if not God than that everything. The connection that runs through all of us and vibrates on a molecular level.

We have all had glimpses of it, deep within the beats, deep in the clutch of the music. Together on cue, moving as one being. Sweaty in the mosh pit with the energy all around you, or quietly singing to the radio alone in our room at night with headphones. We can feel it and envision it, and now we will manifest. We can't let this slip. We can't let this pass like a cloud. We need everyone to remember and use what they have learned. We cannot sleep through this, we cannot afford to forget. It depends on which conscious level you attain to what reality we create. I think we can practice in our dreams too, it's up to you to follow through.

Afraid of the apocalypse?
What can you do?

Research- the Mayans are still around, let them tell you the science behind this period of elevated consciousness  and explain what the pyramids they built are used for.

Visualise- create the world that you want in your mind. Keep in mind Peace and Unity and Love at all times. Meditate and dream as much as possible, so when it comes we already know what to create.

Believe- you have to really believe in your vision, maybe it's not exactly the same as someone else's but in the moment you will see how they all converge on the same idea and become one story of a world at peace. You have to be 100 percent committed to this idea and dream it to reality.

Communicate- as we lead up to the event verbally and non verbally connect with others so that we can share our ideas and come to the solutions that work for everyone. We literally need every person on Earth involved to manifest this thing.

Remember- the effects of the alignment will be felt most strongly in central and South America but will resonate all over the world. The more we tune into it, the deeper our experience. Once we feel the vibration and achieve complete synchronisation of our thoughts, we will feel like all the answers are in front of us and we will believe that we could never forget this information or this feeling of complete happiness and unity. And yet after the three days of the alignment pass, the feeling may begin to fade away and we may separate again. As much information as we can retain from this experience will decide our fate. The longer we can remain on this wavelength the better chance we have of retaining vital information. It will be like a dream within a dream but when we awake we're really wakening. Even if we can remember nothing, at least hold onto that feeling.

Wake up and be aware. It's all happening now, and this is the most exciting time we could ever hope to experience. Tune in.

This is all me and I love you.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Hip Hop Happenings: November

Upcoming Events
Hip Hop Events in November
Sydney (mostly)

Sunday October 28thSketch the Rhyme- rounding out October, here's an event worth being tired on Monday morning for. All our favourite Sketch the Rhyme characters: Jeswon, P-Smurf, Native Wit and Verbaleyes will be joined by The Tongue and Dialectrix for a hip hop extravaganza like you've never seen. This will be the recording of the pilot episode of the new Sketch the Rhyme TV show so they need a huge audience. Bring your mother, bring your brother, hell bring your dog, and COME ON DOWN.
The Standard, Surry Hills 7:30pm

EaRelevant & Barnzy
Thursday November 1st  Word Play- speaking of emcee games and fun with words, this is a new format for an emcee competition. Rather than a standard “rap battle” there are different rounds including pre-written, acapella, and freestyle. Audience participation will play a big part in judging so we need a big crowd for this. Also don't miss out because in between rounds we've got performances by some of the best artists in Sydney: EaRelevant and Barnzy, Hometeam, Mute MC, and DJ Prolifix.
The Roxbury Hotel, 7:30pm
tix $10 presale, $15 on the door
This is a charity event.

Saturday November 3rd - Black Magic, State Advanced & Curtis C + more

Curtis C in action with Psych the Passenger (scarf not optional)
This is the last show before our funny talking, fast rapping cousin Curtis C ships back overseas to the land of eternal snow (the one with the maple leaf flag and the heads that disconnect when they talk). Don't miss out catching this class act before he goes. He's got more skills hidden under his scarf than most emcees have in their whole ensemble. Joining his brother State Advanced, on stage they're an unstoppable team. Black Magic is another Sydney group I've been wanting to see. If it was only those two groups it would be a great night but that's not all! This is a massive night of hip hop with a fabulous list of mainly local acts including Beat Theory and Hometeam among others. Peep the facebook event for the full list of artists and I will see you there.
Valve Bar, Tempe
tickets $10 at the door

Friday November 9th- Thundamentals supported by Elemont- well if you're like me you'll be flying to Brisbane for Sprung Festival and missing this show. Good thing I'll be catching them in the Blue Mountains this Saturday (25/10). I wouldn't miss the chance to see this group with their full horn section. These kids have been keeping low profile lately, working on individual side projects, so it's great to see them together again and anything they do is not to be missed. The boys are so generous and supporting of new music that they ran a competition to find local support acts for each of their shows. All you had to do was point them in the direction of some new music via a post on their facebook page and they would check it out. After sorting through hundreds of entries they came to the inevitable conclusion- we must have Elemont for Sydney support. This up and coming young rapper from Wollongong has been getting a lot of attention lately- he was recently invited to participate in Sketch the Rhyme with the Big Village crew and he will be competing in the emcees finals at Sprung Festival. All this and we're still waiting on a mixtape.
Oxford Arts Factory, Sydney
tickets $20 through moshtix

Saturday November 10th- SPRUNG FESTIVAL- now I know this isn't a Sydney event but it's certainly one worth travelling interstate for and I think a lot of us will be doing just that. This is the largest all Australian, all hip hop event of the year. How's that for a lineup? My only problem is Thundamentals and Spit Syndicate are overlapping. And who the fuck is Kerser and why is he a headliner?
RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane

Horrorshow representing Elefant Traks
Sunday November 11th- Elefant Traks meet Dr Seuss- This looks like it will be an extremely special event. A magical night where reality is twisted and dreams, however strange, will blossom into reality. Who do you know who's a better rhymer than Dr Seuss? No one obviously. And who could be better at spitting those lines over a beat than the Elefant crew? They've got almost the whole Elefant catalogue participating- The Herd, Hermitude, Urthboy, Horrorshow, Joelistics, Sietta, Ozi Battla, The Tongue, Jimblah, Uncle Ho, and Sky'High. It makes me sad that I will still be in Brisbane for this because when the hell have you ever seen elephants in the opera house? And I'm certain they will never allow it again. All that rhyming and stomping around is sure to make a mess of the place!
Sydney Opera House, Darling Harbour
tickets $23- $47

Monday- Tuesday November 12-13thRADIOHEAD- Now this isn't strictly a hip hop event but I think it's worth mentioning as I have been waiting for this MY WHOLE LIFE! Or literally since February when I got my ticket. And who doesn't like Radiohead? Okay, okay I just wanted to show off that I'm going. What are you doing on the day of the total solar eclipse?
Sydney Entertainment Centre
If you're going, then you've been waiting on this for months!

Me and Cathy reppin' the One Day Crew!
Friday November 16th -Spit Syndicate supported by Seven and Mr. Hill, and Jackie Onassis- The last stop on the tour to promote their new single “Beauty in the Bricks” the whole album entitled “Sunday Gentleman” will be hitting us early next year, with another summer tour possibly on the cards as well. Each presold ticket purchased enters you in the comp entitled “Food Safaris” where the boys take you out to dinner before the gig. Sounds like an excuse for the guys to go out some new beautiful women every night. Maaaaaybe?
Annandale Hotel, Sydney inner west
tickets $18.50, doors at 8pm

Broken Thought Theory
Friday November 16th -Empire Rising supported by Broken Thought Theory and High Noon- Looking for alternative plans? Spit Syndicate doesn't quite grab your attention. Want to see some real hip hop in the building? Empire Rising is a funky combo of a rock band vibe with hard hip hop lyrics and electro dance beats. But honestly I'll be there to see Broken Thought Theory. If you haven't had the pleasure of checking out this trio yet, I have to warn you, you're pretty much going to shit your pants. I'll leave the rest to your imagination but truth is you really need to get out to this. High Noon is going to blow you away as well. Get there early! This crew is known for drinking out the bar before showtime.
Oxford Arts Factory, Sydney, 8pm

P-Smurf and Ellesquire rockin' the Annandale
Saturday November 17th- P. Smurf's 'Smurf Village' Mixtape Launch- This is the night I'll be looking forward to all month. P-Smurf has become a real influential character, taking a lead role in the Sydney hip hop scene, just like in his imagined world where he's Papa Smurf and all the other emcees are just his little blue minions. We know him well for his work with the Daily Meds and Reverse Polarities, now let's see what he can pull of with no back up.  The support acts are insane for this show.  We've got heaps of Big Village characters jumping up to do their part.  Plus Broken Thought Theory! Two best crews in Sydney all in one place, it's going to be a mad house.  
Annandale Hotel, Sydney, 8pm
tix $10 presale includes free hard copy of 'Smurf Village' mixtape + free beer on arrival/ $15 at the door

Thursday November 22ndTuka's 'Feedback Loop' album launch supported by Rapaport, and Tenth Dan & Grub- Tuka has been a busy man these last few months. Ever since the Thundamentals did their Like A Version cover of the song “Brother” all eyes have been turned to them with great intensity. Tuka delivers a highly passionate performance in that song which has singled him out as the Sydney rapper to watch out for. He's at the top of his game. His style is impeccable. He's got a quality about him, a passion, a softness, a quirkiness that's impossible to replicate. He lays it all out there and like it or not you have to accept that it's genuinely who he is. His style can't be pinpointed to just hip hop. There's a lot of singing it it, especially on this new album. Ever since he showed us the first single from his sophomore solo album, “Just To Feel Wanted” we've been salivating for more. The teaser video for “Time and Space” blew me away. He ranges from silly to deep sincerity all in the same song, and the hook is catchy as fuck. Tuka's certainly got it all going for him this year. Whether by himself, with the Big Village crew, or with Thundamentals you'll certainly be drawn to whatever he does simply because it's genuine and real. You can see it in his eyes.
Annandale Hotel, Sydney, 8pm
presales $10, may include free drink and unreleased MP3 of “Time and Space” (but I'm not making any promises)

Thursday November 22ndBrother Ali with Sean Price and Mantra supporting
In a cruel twist of fate, the legend, the man, the myth himself, Brother Ali of Rhymesayers fame, one of my very favourite rappers of all time, is performing on the same night as Tuka's launch, which will be absolutely amazing. Now I have to make an executive decision here and go with the rapper I'm much less likely to see any time soon, and haven't yet had the pleasure of seeing in person. He made a brief stop here with Atmosphere back in 2008 and we haven't seen him since. Brother Ali has got a style that just completely blows me away. I have so much respect for this man. There will never anyone who sounds like him. Not only is he skilled but he's also socially concious. He's not afraid to tackle the real nitty gritty issues facing America today. As a citizen of the world, this man is certainly a leader. My only complaint is that he hasn't brought his label mate, Grieves with him, but I think we're lucky to get two Rhymesayers shows this year. Don't miss this, quality hip hop in the building.
The Factory Theatre, Marrickville
$50 + ticketing fees

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Big Village

Big Village: Big Things Volume 2 Tour

Oxford Arts Factory, Sydney
14th September 2012

Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
5th October 2012

Gearins Hotel, Katoomba (not Toowoomba)
6th October 2012

I want this to read like a personal journal for those of you that wanted to go but couldn't, I want you to feel like you were there and you wrote this. I want this to read like a love letter for all of those that have continued to share these experiences with me: to those that are always by my side (you know who you are), to those that I now recognise in the crowd night by night, and to those on stage in this crew that have never been anything but nice to me, and have always taken the time out to talk to me, and encourage me to ask the questions which will help define their point of view. (And put up with me when I'm embarrassingly drunk too.) I want this to read like a postcard for all of those who haven't had the pleasure of experiencing this music yet. Cause it says “Wish you were here,” in big bold print. The photo on the front alone will be enough to make you want to dive in, but my colourful prose will catch you on the hook and sink you for sure. 

First a little background info, this album/ tour is truly a family affair. Not only is the whole crew involved but it's almost like the emcees drew names out of a hat to see who got to work with who this time. Although there's some familiar combinations- Loose Change, Daily Meds, Reverse Polarities, True Vibenation, etc. There are also some new, not yet seen before combinations (ie. Jeswon & P Smurf, Klue & Billie Rose, Mute MC & Verbaleyes, and Tuka & Loose Change, Billie Rose & Reverse Polarities). And the highlight of it all, is the posse track where absolutely everyone gets to throw down a verse. That's 16 clowns squeezed onto an itty bitty stage for a BIG finale.

My journey to this particular show actually began months ago when the lives of Kathy and I first started to become intertwined with the members of this crew. I won't take you through the details of how we became advocates, spokeswomen, and top sticker distributors for Big Village. But one particularly memorable night happened just before the first show of the tour, in Sydney. Now it turns out that a lot of times, when I'm planning to have a big night, it tends to get slightly ruined by the night before. In this case, my friends and I had been planning on and looking forward to the Friday night gig at the Oxford Arts Factory for months, so what do I do? Well, I spent the Thursday night drinking moonshine at a warehouse in Marrickville and... well I'm sure you can already tell that this isn't going to end well... (or is it?)

 My favourite song off the Big Things Volume 2 album, as I'm sure a couple people can attest to, was immediately “Lingua Franca.” The song is a collab by Mute MC (Reverse Polarities) and Verbaleyes (True Vibenation). Lyrically, this song spoke to me more than any other has in recent times. It communicates how music is the only absolutely universal language. It has the ability to bring the people of every culture and background to the understanding that we are all just one people. It's basically everything that hip hop as a culture attempts to express.

On the night of the 13th August, a special day on it's own, I partook in a particularly special event, we did a video shoot for “Lingua Franca.” We may have lacked the representation from all cultures of the world that we had wanted to showcase in the video, but we all came with an earnest desire to make something out of nothing and to give this song the energy and communal feeling that it deserves. I'm pretty sure we succeeded, although I've yet to see the video. I did get to rap to the camera though, and I met Damon finally, after hearing so much about how awesome he is, but that's a whole other story.

And so the BIG night had come around finally, I really meant to get there right when the doors opened. We should have been the first people standing by the door, bright and eager with our tickets clenched in hand, like little girls going to see our first concert cause that's certainly how excited we felt. I have been wanting to see Sketch the Rhyme which is, well what is it? From what I can guess/ imagine- it's like a hip hop pictionary game show, with lots of live freestyle raps and live art, you can't get much more hip hop than that. It is such a cool concept and takes a lot of skill. The ability to drop a tight freestyle these days is almost like separate skill to being an emcee, when it used to be a requirement. These kind of rapping games really keep rappers on their toes and fine tunes their skill. Unfortunately, something called “Fat Ass Scrumpy” (and that is a type of beverage) delayed our arrival time by at least half an hour, so I missed out on the first part of the action. 

This was my first time at the Oxford Arts Factory and I can see now why it's such a popular venue. It's intimate without being too small, it gives the feeling of being in a theatre (velvet curtain and all) without any seats to get in the way of dancing. Immediately upon entering you could tell this was a hip hop gig. Not like a 360 show which I've talked about before, or Illy which I went to recently, where the vibe just felt a bit off. Here, it was like there was something in the air, a highly contagious airborne allergen that did the opposite of making you sick, in fact as soon as you caught it you felt energised, alive, and connected to all the people around you. It was like arriving home, and although most of the people there were strangers, they were all people that I wanted to know. My eyes were sparkling as I looked around. I was on a drug but I wasn't. I was on the edge and about to jump.

 Reverse Polarities was on now and I went straight to the front of the stage as if we had assigned seats and I had to take my place. Mikoen, P-Smurf, and Mute MC said their hellos to me from the stage not like an artist communicating to a fan, but like we were here together and we were sharing something. A couple of songs into the set, everyone except P-Smurf mysteriously disappeared from the stage, then out popped Jeswon to perform what is most likely my second favourite song on the album, although it's a close call. Lately it's only lyrics with a message that really do it for me, Evolutionary Cells was a stand out from the first listen. As far as lyrics and subject matter this song is right where I'm at. It is time for evolution, come on people lets do this. BIG of course came on soon after and I couldn't stop myself jumping around to this insane beat. It's probably the catchiest song on the album, and with Billie Rose joining them, they became Reverse Polarities- Daily Meds hyphenated like a beautiful marriage of sound.  

Security is minimal at these events. It's not like at some shows where there has to be a big barricade separating the performers from the audience, in case desperate teenagers get overcome with lust and throw themselves onto the stage. (I haven't seen it happen yet anyway.) And the inevitable fighting that tends to happen at a lot of hip hop shows, was completely absent this night. The vibe was excellent, it's like we were all friends. Artists were also audience members, keen to see their friends performances as much as we were. When the show was about ¾ of the way through, Rochelle turned to me we both just looked at each other in astonishment, we couldn't do much but just shake our heads and say, “amazing.” She tilts her head and says, “this could be... the best?” “Yes,” I nod in agreement. “The best one.” we agree.

It was all about the vibe this time and the vibe was alive and the crowd was feeling something intense together, the sets were tight. What can I say about the rest of the night? Loose Change is a change from just your average Australian hip hop. “Ode to the Beatmaker” is a performance and track to check out from the album. Rapaport solo is truly unstoppable. He's got a style that no one can touch. As he said during the set, “this is like workout music,” you can't help but move around to the beats. As proved by my video of “Claptrap” where he is joined by impromptu dancers. True Vibenation bring the whole reggae, jazz vibe, with the saxophones and love for all, and Bob Marley. It's a good chill interlude. It was really exciting for me when Mute came out and they performed “Lingua Franca” after working on it so much the night before. It was a great energy song that got a crowd response. Daily Meds just absolutely killed the night. I'm pretty sure everyone literally went “Insane” and had to be removed from the activities of normal society the next day. Daily Meds have the most intense high energy performance I have yet witnessed. You cannot help but dance to the music. Well it helps that they have a song called “Dance” as well but, you would anyway. Tuka and Ellesquire are the smoothest lyricists. Their raps are thoughtful and their singing soulful. They both have a soothing, yet eye catching stage presence, it was certainly interesting to see these two form a pair and bring us something new from their combined greatness.

Ellesquire and Tuka
Going to the Newcastle and Blue Mountains shows turned out to be a beautiful last minute decision. Three weeks had gone by since the Sydney show already, and the BV'ers had taken a massive bus all the way down to Melbourne and then up to Brisbane. Our decision to go to the Newcastle show was a last minute one as it was. And then following mine and Kathy's normal procedure, we left about a hour and a half later than we had planned to. But I'm sure it wouldn't be half as exciting to get there if we weren't always racing the clock. This time we raced the clock all the way up the coast, half hoping that the show wasn't actually over when we got there. Lucky it wasn't too bad, we made it in about halfway through Loose Change's set. Saying to ourselves of course, it's ok we'll see the whole thing next time. Hahaha....

The Newcastle show was a little bit of a disappointment. I don't know if we were just a bit put off from the start by one very strange coincidence, a chance meeting. But the whole night certainly had a very different feel to it. After the super high energy of the Sydney show, this one felt a bit strained and a little bit awkward. But that just goes to show how every show, even though it's exactly the same, can have a completely different feel just depending on the crowd. The performers feed off the crowd's energy and give back whatever they get magnified tenfold. A disinterested crowd will always get a slightly disinterested performer, but when it's on, it's on.

True Vibenation
Have you ever had the experience of witnessing an absolutely incredible performance, and then afterwards you just feel completely drained? It's like coming down off of a high. That's because you have given up all your energy to that performance as well. The performer has received an incredible burst of energy from the buzzingly excited crowd and was able to use it all, to gain almost inhuman abilities, giving it all back with the best performance possible. The performer and the audience form a special bond. It's why I go to the shows night after night, it's what I live for these days. That one moment where you're not just yourself anymore, the moment that the performer and the audience creates together, where the whole room is on the same level.  We drop over the edge. We all feel the same feeling. The one moment. The posse track, This Is That, which of course was the last song of the night describes this push and pull between the audience and performers perfectly. “We got the energy to give it out, give it back... what you want is what you get, keep it all in check, come on.”

How to sleep in a car.  Where are her legs??
Anyway not to say that the Newcastle performance was anything less than awesome. But compared to what we had already seen and what was to come, it definitely lacked energy and crowd participation.

Getting to the Blue Mountains was painful. This was the same day we left Newcastle, drove back to Sydney and then off again to Katoomba. Of course we were late again, and the rain was so heavy as we turned onto the highway that lead into the mountains that we almost had to pull over. Lucky it wasn't a tad colder or we would have been blanketed with snow. I'm sitting in the back of the car with the rain bucketing down on us, completely covering the front windscreen. Kath is trying to drive but we can barely see a metre ahead and I'm just thinking to myself. “Why the FUCK are we doing this??” We parked down the side of the building so we could smash a few drinks before we went in and we could hear BIG just barely coming through the wall, of course we missed the whole beginning of the show AGAIN! We made a sneaky side entrance so as not to attract too much attention. The room felt old but friendly and comfortable. Small town vibe, everyone was friendly. There was so many familiar faces in the crowd. And then all the hassle of getting there, sleeping in the car the night before, the whole day of driving, everything was worth it.  We had made home again.   

It felt so good to get out of Sydney for a little while. I moved down from North Queensland about 8 months ago, chasing some excitement, something happening. I certainly found what I was looking for, but I realised that I haven't left the city since about March (except to go to Canberra, which doesn't really count cause it's a shithole, sorry) and it was so relaxing just to chill somewhere were people aren't always rushing to get to the next thing. The small town vibe is definitely a needed break for the mind.

Daily Meds
This show was much smaller than the Sydney one, and it started off slow, even by the time we got there the crowd was a bit sparse. But I think what we got to in the end of that show exceeds where we were at in the Sydney show. I felt like all of us together were building and building up to the last moment. The ultimate push and pull, the energy flying. I think because we had already seen the show a couple of times now, we weren't particularly focused on each set like we had been, but that meant that we had plenty of time to connect with friends. And it gave us the ability to throw all of our spare energy into that last all important moment, in the last song. And it paid off. That end result that I try to describe? It can't be mimicked or faked, it can only be felt deep inside. And if you know what I mean then you know now, or else you have a new aspiration to achieve. This hip hop thing is slowly killing me. And letting me breathe. If you don't know what I mean, then get onto this thing.

I'd say we're pretty close to starting our own society, yeah? Big Village.
(you'll see me rep that in the street)

I think you'll find all your needs will be taken care of here.

Check it out, Tuka's 2nd solo album "Feedback Loop" will be released this Friday, 26th October! 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

What Not To Miss in October

Upcoming Events: 
What Not to Miss inOctober
Sydney and surrounding areas

Tuesday October 2ndJurassic Lounge
State Advanced and Sloppy Joe
Have you ever seen night at the museum?That's kind of what this will be like. Except hopefully the exhibitswon't actually come to life, just the stage. Your hip hop for theevening will include the smooth lyrical stylings of Canadian artistState Advanced (one third of Broken Thought Theory) backed byfunk band Sloppy Joe and Chance Waters, a local artist who ison my list to check out. Anyone who lists Atmosphere and JeffBuckley as influences is ok in my book.
This event is packed with heaps ofother fun activities and performances including (and I'm not kidding) circus acts, live reptiles, a ping pong tournament, a silent disco,vintage video gaming room, stand up comedy, art talks and workshops,body painting, the special exhibit Deep Oceans,, plus more, and allfor $14!
Don't miss out on this night of funrunning from 530pm-1030pm.

Kade and the Karneez at the Annandale Hotel
October 4th : Kade andthe Karneez headline an event at FBi Social set to be thebiggest Thursday night you have ever seen in the cross. Supportsinclude Five Coffees, Big Dumb Kid, and Mass Effect. Do yourself afavour and check out these local underground artists.

October 6th : If you want tosee what the female Sydney emcees are up to but you need something abit softer than that Sky'High chick, Madame Wu is your girl. She's got a gentle flow with poetic, hard hitting lyrics touching ona wide variety of topics and the beautiful singing of Elise Grahambacking her up. With Dj Prolifik on the decks, thislaunch of her debut album at Raval in Surry Hills is sure tobe of epic proportions.

October 11th: In case youmissed the first round Kade and the Karneez are at it again atthe Newtown classic venue, the Sandringham Hotel (Lovinglyreferred to as The Sando) It's a good idea to head here to supportthis struggling venue. Check info on links below.
Facebook event- coming soon!

October 13th : Hip HopOdyseeys III Spaceport One,Marrickville
Ifyou attend nothing else this month, this is the gig to go to. It isthe best venue, with the friendliest people, the most relaxedatmosphere, and always an excellent night of showcasing local artistswhich breaks down into a crazy every man for themselves all out wildfreestyle session at the end. Not to be missed. Ever. This is amonthly event and can only get better, bring the whole crew along foran all night party. Up this month is Beat Theory, Prospecta, MilitantPretext, Kodda, and Deejay J Neri.
Facebookevent- coming soon!

October19th:Seth Sentry atOxford Arts Factory-An artist that grew JJJ famous off from one hit, “The WaitressSong” back in 2009 has finally released his first album three yearsin the making, ThisWas Tomorrow. If you're headed to the show bring a rain jacket or be prepared tobe super soaker soaked as Seth revealed via Instagram his stock pileof water guns which he plans to use at the show.

ANDOctober 19th:
Ifunder some horrible circumstances you were forced to miss the Sydneyshow at the Oxford Arts Factory a couple weeks ago, or even if youdidn't and you just want to party with all your friends again, you'rein luck! The last stop on for the BigVillageBIG party bus is at Yours & Owls in Wollongong. Please don'tmiss this opportunity to see the whole label out in full party mode. That's 16 emcees in all kinds of wild pairings and positions. It'slike the kama sutra of hip hop. More fun than a circus big top. Just watch these clowns try to fit all 16 emcees on an itty bittystage for the last song!

October25thSpit Syndicate kickoff their “Beauty in the Bricks” tour promoting their new singleat the Transit Barin Canberra– set in intimate venues, this tour gives the SS boys a chance toshowcase their new music to small groups of loyal fans.

Thundamentals at UC Bar in Canberra
October27th: Thundamentalsmake a stop in Katoomba,their home in the Blue Mountains on their “Get Busy” Tour whichmakes it's stop in Sydney in November. Backed by a live hornsection, this group is very high energy and never one to disappoint. Plus the energy in their home town crowd would be incredible,possible worth the trip out to the mountains to witness this.

Alsoon that date back at home is the SurryHills Festivalat Prince Albert Park which includes sets by hip hop acts TheTongueand True Vibenationalongside groups from many genres of music and several DJ sets, goodfood, drinks, markets stalls, and art on display. It's set to be anincredible day with all proceeds going to the Surry HillsNeighbourhood Centre.

It'salso rumoured that local lyrical legend SkaseAkwill be dropping his new album for free release sometime at the endof this month. More information as it comes available. If you seethis album up for download cop it as quick as you can, cause it couldchange the way you think forever.

SoMany Links
JurrasicLounge- check out all the upcoming events, every Tuesday night thissummer
StateAdvanced- listen to and review tracks from this artist on JJJ Unearthed
BrokenThought Theory – free EP download
ChanceWaters- “Young and Dumb” Tour dates and ticket information
KadeMC facebook- up to date news, free tracks, and gig info
Kade'salbum The Ruckman Record – my album review
Madame Wu- songs off the new album
SpaceportOne - performance space in Marrickville
BigVillage website – merchandise and tour info
BigVillage Tour Diary Part 1: Sydney and Part 2: Melbourne
SpitSyndicate “Beauty in the Bricks” - tour and ticketing info or here for Canberra
Thundamentals“Get Busy” tour and ticketing info
TheTongue- Elefant traks artist
TrueVibenation- Big Village artists

Friday, September 28, 2012

Speaking In Tongues

Hilltop Hoods “Speaking in Tongues Tour” 2012
Groovin the Moo, Canberra May 13th
Hordern Pavillion, Sydney August 4th
University of Canberra    August 12th


I feel like I'm obligated to be super impressed with Hilltop Hoods show because they are one of the groups that founded Australian hip hop, and because of everything that they have done to get hip hop in this country to the level that it is today. Certainly they are the group that turned many people onto this genre of music, and I have a lot of respect for what they have done. I contemplated whether I should express my real opinion about the shows that I attended on their recent tour because I don't want to immediately alienate people, by taking a stance on something that is in such stark contrast to the almost universally accepted reality of the situation. But having different opinions is what makes life interesting, so I hope you will find that I have touched on some good points, and opened the path for a discussion, even if you completely disagree with what I have to say.

The background story:

Surf Beach, New South Wales south coast
Alright, before we get too far into it, first let me tell you a little story about what Hilltop Hoods mean to me. It started in the summer of 2006.  I had been into Rhymesayers music for quite some time, especially Atmosphere. I was also bumping a lot of Sublime and Mystic Roots at the time. This was my second trip to Australia, my first being a year long stay as an exchange student in 2002. A friend and I, both from Upstate New York, were living in a little beach town near Batemans Bay on the south coast of NSW and starting to get a bit bored. One day a neighbour came over and while I played hip hop off my laptop he asked, “Have you heard any Australian hip hop?” And right then a new obsession was born. I didn't know Australian hip hop existed. I think like a lot of Australians, I was partial to anything Australian just because it was Australian. It had that accent, that attitude, it was something different. It came from here, it came from us not them. And so it was automatically special to us, it was better. (I had always felt since I first came to Australia that I was more at home than I was in the United States, that's why I referred to Australia as “us,” even then.)

me in our Surf Beach apartment 2007
The Hard Road and The Calling where my introduction to Australian hip hop. I may have fallen for the catchy chorus of “The Nosebleed Section” like everybody else, but it was the songs that went a bit deeper like “Testimonial Year” and “1979” that made it stick. That's when I saw that they had something different to say, something personal. The Hard Road was a strong album, and at the time, it was something that I associated with. But it wasn't long before I moved on in my listening to other Australian emcees and admittedly my attention to what the Hilltop Hoods were doing began to wane after that. I hate to sound like someone who says, “I only like their old shit,” because that's not true either, I actually think their new album is much, much better than any of their others. I like most of the songs, they are catchy and easy to listen to. I think the lyrics in the song “Speaking in Tongues” come across with a good message about unity, that I can identify with. I was extremely hyped to see what a tour promoting this album would include. Many years now into my Australian hip hop obsession, and many many performances under my belt, I had yet to see “the mighty Hilltops” perform. I expected them to put on a performance that said “we are the top of hip hop in this country” loud and clear. I expected them to pull out every stop possible.   

My honest opinion:

Having seen Hilltop Hood perform three times this year, I have to say that each time I was underwhelmed. I guess that's because I was expecting something more. They have this reputation for being the greatest thing that ever happened to Australian hip hop, so I had extremely high expectations. Maybe I had unreasonably high expectations, and that's why they fell short. But I think that once you get everyone's attention the way that they have, you better hope like hell that you have a message for them. Hopefully the message is something that will make people think, and that their lives will be enriched by the experience of sharing your music with you. Making a great party song, may get you a lot of attention, but it doesn't make you a great artist. It's the songs with a real message about life that people will actually take something away from and appreciate more in the end.

I'm not saying that the shows were terrible at all, they were good concerts. The audience was involved and activated. There was great energy between performers and audience. That by itself can make for a good and unifying experience. I'm sure for a lot of newcomers, first time concert goers, and those that attend only a few concerts a year, it may have been the best thing they have ever seen. That is fantastic, I know almost every person there did feel something great. But if I look at all the concerts that I have attended just in the last six months, the Hilltop Hoods performances, for me, fell short of what I thought they were capable of achieving. We went to the edge but not over it. It was missing that something extra, that a group, with their knowledge, skill, experience, and especially with their monetary backing, could have brought to the game. I was looking for them to step it up another notch from anything we have seen so far before, but it was like somehow we missed a step up and the playing field just began to level out.

In comparison

I think maybe a lot of it comes down to the fact that I'm a huge Bliss n Eso fan. Honestly, the show they put on for their “Running on Air” tour is still the best hip hop show I have seen from this country. Of course they connected with the audience, and yes there was a lot of audience participation and feed back. (Standard.) They played games with us that we may have seen before already at a Bliss n Eso show in the past (they have their traditions), but WOW did they really surprise us. And yes, I think they did step it up and push their performance to the next level.

Let me just briefly recount the things that made “Running On Air” a standout performance. First of all, you can't go past what is in your face from the very beginning. A running video montage accompanies each and every one of their songs. It's not just a large TV showing their performance on a big screen so that those in the back can see better, which is what most artists do. (And that's a good thing as well, no doubt.) But what they do is actually create a unique film clip that goes with each performance as an accompaniment to compliment the lyrics of each song and drive their point home. Like they have a DJ mixing, bringing in elements from so many different musical genres into one, they also have a VJ mixing clips in the same way. Already this is a different sort of performance, but let's look at what else they did. The song “Fire it Up” was actually accompanied by real flames on stage. Their interludes between songs included actual skits, like pretend fishing before “Down by the River.” And the most amazing part of the whole night, visually and sonically, was when unveiled that a grand piano had been moved onto the stage for their performance of “At Midnight,” my favourite song of theirs. All of these points were driven home when we went back and watched the DVD of this performance after seeing the Canberra Hilltop Hoods show. I don't expect to see these types of things in every oz hip hop performance obviously because doing these types of things on stage requires a lot of money to pull off. However I was put off by the lack of these types of surprises in the Hilltop Hoods show considering they most likely have even more in the way of monetary backing than Bliss n Eso does.
 Don't get me wrong, it's not only big production and big displays of waving money around that gets me excited about a hip hop show. I would be more than happy to watch just an emcee and a DJ on stage doing nothing special, if what they had to say was real and meaningful. I may even actually prefer it because the theatrics of it all can distract from the message. I think what is most important in hip hop and everyone would have to agree, is the lyrics. Everything else is just done in support of what is being said. And I was listening, really listening hard at the Hilltop Hoods show, like I do at every show, and lyrically they just weren't doing it for me.


Last night, I spent hours pouring over Hilltop Hoods lyrics to see if maybe I was just missing something. What I found out is some of their rhymes are pretty tight and intricate. But what really gets to me is that so many of their songs seem to be about the same thing, how great of lyricists and emcees they are, how much better their crew is than anyone else's . We know they can tell a good story, with songs like “The Sentinel,” “Audience with the Devil,” and “Stopping All Stations,” but those are pretty rare. We all know they can make a great banging party song like, “What A Great Night” and “Blue Blooded All Stars.” But do they represent something more than that? What I'm looking for is a simple message, what point are they actually trying to get out there? Yet line after line reads like this “My lyrics range from better than yours to way better than yours,” while at the same time lacking substance in their words. 

Cultural Resistance

I think a big problem is how do you keep pushing yourself after you've already “made it”? I think no matter what the Hilltop Hoods put out now they will still get love from the masses. I think it would be hard when you get to that point to keep from being lazy. Especially since laziness in Australia is almost a praised characteristic.

It's part of Australian culture to be lazy, you can't help it really. Australia has such a laid back and easy lifestyle. It comes with the whole no worries philosophy: Don't worry, don't plan, everything just works out fine on it's own, no stress. The thing is sometimes stress is the only way that anything gets done, it's a motivating factor. As I see it, it's hard at every level for an Australian emcee (or any artist in Australia for that matter). It's hard to get started in the first place, because life is just too easy for most people to be bothered to put any extra effort into anything. It's hard to start to establish and make a name for yourself because of the way society tends to look down on those “overachievers.” And it's even hard once you've “made it” to find the motivation to keep pushing yourself.

Having lived in the US where stress rules the land, and you are judged purely on what you have achieved rather than who you are, and in Australia where “no worries” is a lifelong philosophy, I can see both sides of the coin. Now before you get all high and mighty on me, realise that I chose to live here so obviously I think the Australian lifestyle is a much better choice. But there are positives and negatives to every situation. Australia has something embedded in the society that the United States does not, and it's commonly referred to as “Tall Poppy Syndrome.” As far as I see it, this means that anyone that tries to grow too big or reach too far toward the stars gets immediately knocked down. Whether it's verbally, physically, or just perceptually, the group will tend to look down on or beat down on the one who stands out until they feel bad about themselves and withdraw to the same level as their peers.

Tall poppy syndrome can stifle creativity because anyone who tries too hard at anything will be knocked down and hated on. That's why laziness is so treasured in Australia. This is why mediocrity tends to rule. If you stand out too much, you're a try-hard, putting in too much effort. It's like when we were in school and the people who were good at it and always did their homework got made fun of, except extended into a whole life philosophy. It's just the opposite in the United States. With so much competition for every little aspect of life, standing out from the crowd is the only way to survive, so being extremely ambitious is a valued and desirable character trait.This isn't to say that all (or even most) the stuff that comes out of the US is excellent or that everything that comes out of Australia is mediocre. It just helps us to understand the cultural mindset that the artist comes up against in this country.

There are so many artists in this country I don't think are striving to reach their greatest potential, simply because they don't even know what their greatest potential could be. Perhaps they are aiming too low, purposely melding themselves to fit in with their peers because unconsciously, that is what they are culturally programed to do. I'm not going to name any more names or make this entry into one of hate or placing blame, because that's not what I'm all about. I'm simply stating that what comes from the top trickles down. I think in this culture we can all get along together, but that everyone should be focusing much harder on each forming their own unique point of view and going for that as hard as they can. It takes many different pieces to make the whole picture, if all the pieces are too similar the picture will only turn out to be a fuzzy blur when what we need is clear cut edges and defined brush strokes. We should try and show our best face to the world, and that's not going to happen if we keep trying to cut each other down and conform around a set standard.

The opening act

Horrorshow in Canberra
Well enough of that tangent and back to the actual shows. I won't go on about all the little things that I found annoying, overall I did enjoy myself. However there was one thing that I couldn't get over which is worth mentioning. I think they missed a golden opportunity in not bringing Solo out on stage with them to perform “The Underground.” It is one of the best tracks on their new album and was in the running to become the second single, beaten out by “Shredding the Balloon,” only just. They brought Horrorshow on tour with them because obviously they respect and want to showcase this younger group, so why not bring Solo on stage to perform his track with them? I think it would have made for a very memorable moment in the show.

It's actually Horrorshow's Sydney performance that sticks out the most in my mind from these shows. The tour had just returned from Europe days before the Sydney gig. Horrorshow stepped out on stage to their home crowd, a year after performing this same venue with Bliss n Eso, with a new confidence and a very strong presence that I hadn't yet seen from them. There was no uncertainty at all. I think going overseas can give you such a refreshed perspective on life. And coming back to perform to a sold out home crowd, at the very venue that they themselves saw their very first concert, I can imagine they just threw everything that they had into it, and that confidence shone through in the best way. “We got this one,” was the note to self backstage.
Both of their performances I remember so differently, even though they played the same songs both times. Each performance carried a completely different vibe. The Sydney show was all about far away blue lights, slow songs, and haunting lyrics. Their new song “Dead Star Shine” stood out as pretty much the highlight of my night. Even though it was a brand new song and no one knew it yet, you could tell it went over very well, and I think he even got us all singing along to the chorus in the end. At the Canberra show of course we were able to get much closer. I remember the lighting as being more energetic, orange and yellow and greens with “Thoughtcrime” being the most stand-out song of the night.
Sally with Adit and Solo

There's certainly room in this scene and in the world scene for music like Horrorshow's hip hop style. They come from a much softer, very heartfelt place that I think a lot of artists are afraid to show. Their respect for the greats of this genre is evident in Solo's lyrics as well as the samples that Adit chooses. And yet they have managed to come out with something completely different. Solo wears his heart on his sleeve, and that's very refreshing coming from a genre that has a reputation for being about how hard you are, or pulling off a gangster persona.

In closing:

Again, I don't want this to come off the wrong way. Of course I don't hate the Hilltop Hoods, I have nothing but respect for them and what they have accomplished and continue to accomplish. I more have the attitude of that overbearing father or older brother in that because I love them, I'm harder on them because I want them to push themselves even more to reach their very best potential.

I invite anyone reading this, please change my mind about them. I'm open to listening again and being proven wrong. I actually would love to be. So send me lyrics and songs to listen to that really displays their point of view cause I would love it if I was just missing something.

Here is Hilltop Hoods new video clip. It's a big love fest, it's all about unity among the hip hop community.  Do you think that message comes across?

I'll leave you now with these thoughts. I was recently speaking to an Australian emcee about how I was looking for more, I wanted to hear something profound coming from the artist on stage in order to really enjoy the show. And his response disappointed me more than anything. What he said was, “Well we're only rappers you can't expect too much from us.” But I expect more from an emcee than an average person. I expect the whole world to be explained, and the whole world to be brought together as one just through one song. Because that is hip hop.

Links - information about Hilltop Hoods new single and video as well as links to their charity auction items
Horrorshow- artist info, merchandise, upcoming gigs
Flying Colours - Bliss n Eso's merchandise site where you can purchase the Running On Air DVD

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