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!