Hijak Special Bios #3 – Merc Swazey

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Merc Swazey is an exciting and hilarious live hip-hop MC headlining the show, with brand new material debuting exclusively at Hijak!  This new work utilises his new alibi highlighting the undeniable swag of Andre Agassi.

Formely a rap-battling heavyweight in New Zealand known as Hash, Merc Swazey was created on a whim to satirise and have fun with current rap trends in an on-point and engaging manner, but still as formidable as a real hip-hop MC from his rap battle days.

Swazey has worked with trap producer NettSmoney to create a tropical and catchy rap flavour that’s humourous and catchy as fuck, yet grounded in solid and talented lyricism and rhyming patterns second to none.

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Merc Swazey/Nett$money Bandcamp:  nettsmoney.com/album/loud
Merc Swazey Soundcloud:  soundcloud.com/merc_swazey
Merc Swazey Facebook: facebook.com/merc.swazey/

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HIJAK – LABOR DAY SPECIAL – SUNDAY 15 MARCH @ GRUMPY’S

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Saturday 18 April – Empty Gardens feat. Empty (Perth), Clay Adams w/ Walla C, Able8

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Empty Gardens this Saturday in Brunswick features three live hip-hop beat and MCing acts representing collaboration between Perth and Melbourne.

Empty (hailing from Perth), Clay Adam (w/ Walla C) and Able8 all have extremely impressive resumes in a variety of hip-hop shows and productions.

This will take place at the Brunswick Hotel.

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Genre: Live hip-hop production and MCing

Time: 5-8pm

Place: Brunswick Hotel, 140 Sydney Rd, Brunswick.

Cost: Free

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Friday 17 April – Saki: Rumjoint Boombox Launch

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A hip-hop show full of local talent at Fitzroy’s Laundry Bar presenting Saki’s Rumjoint Boombox, accompanied by Dj Pato and Dale Van Haltren.

Features support vocalists, MCs and DJs including: The Psyde Projects, Candice Monique, Bastian Killjoy,  The Vytal One, Seeka and Dead Vandals.

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Genre: Hip-hop

Time: 9pm-3am

Place: Laundry Bar, 48-50 Johnston street, Fitzroy.

Cost: $12 at the door

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Friday 10 April – Cash Krzma, Able8 + friends @ Luxor Live

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Hip-hop artist Cash Krzma plays his last Melbourne show before going back to WA. He will be supported by Able8, Wisdom2th, Slackjaw and DJ Silence.

This one looks fairly unique and is held at Luxor Live, which usually hosts live bands, so it may be worth checking out a new venue for a change.

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Genre: Underground hip-hop and future beats

Time: 8pm-1am

Place: Luxor Live, 124 Lygon Street, Brunswick

Cost: Free

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A Conversation with Morganics – Written by Kristian Hatton

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Introducing…

Many Melbournites may not be familiar with hip-hop artist Morganics, but this guy has more history as a b-boy than many of you have been alive.

I almost missed seeing him first time, as Morgan Lewis is of average height and build, and wears fairly nondescript and unshowy clothing. Just a regular guy. We’ve met at my now-regular interview spot at Lentil As Anything, and he’s stoked at the choice of spot.

“I’ve only been in Melbourne since the end of January (2013), and have already been blown away by how much community love is shown down here. I guess that’s one of the reasons I came here.”

Of course, as all new locals do, he gets cold in the brisk early spring breeze and has to grab an extra layer of clothes from his car, and then we commence our chat over coffees.

Morganics is originally from Sydney and was residing there since the tender age of five. He hit the streets as a b-boy in 1984, embracing the art of breakdancing as his first element of hip-hop.

“I went out there busking and done routines to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. It sort of went hand in hand with acting, which I also loved.”

Morganics rattles off an impressive list of club influences of original electro tracks such as Grandmaster Flash’s ‘Scorpio’ and ‘The Message’, Def Jam Sampler 84, Herbie Hancock, Liquid Liquid (originator of the ‘White Lines’ bass riff), Jamalski, Taaj Khan (“Hip-hop is global”), Macklemore (“It was a kick seeing that guy in the mainstream”) and Sugar Hills Records Sampler vol.2 ON WAX. This, of course, impresses me.

I asked Morgan what the main difference was between clubs of yesterday and now.

“Hip-hop elements like breaking, DJing, MCing, beatboxing and even tagging the toilets were more intertwined. You couldn’t have one without the other in the clubs, and that’s where you learned to b-boy, in the actual clubs.”

Metabass N Breath

During his busking forays, Morganics befriended MCs Elf Tranzporter and Baba Israel. They honed their routines and formed Metabass n Breath, of whom also included members DJ Nic Toth and various instrumentalists later on in their live act.

They released three albums, an EP and hit single ‘Perfection’, which received regular national airplay on Triple J and Channel V, which was quite an achievement to do in pre-2000 and before widespread internet usage, social media promotion and mass music downloading.

“It was more of a struggle to get music out there. There were less people doing music then, which was a good and bad thing. It’s easier to find people you like working with, but it’s gotten very competitive these days.”

Metabass n Breath went on to tour America twice and released on Bomb Hip-Hop records before parting ways in the early 2000s.

Hip-Hop is My Passport

Morganics went on from Metabass n Breath to work teaching indigenous communities in place like Arnhem Land (Northern Territory) and The Clare Valley (South Australia) the arts of b-boying, most famously assisting The Wilcannia Mob create track ‘Down River’, which was remixed as ‘Mango Pickle Down Under’ for MIA’s album Kala.

After releasing debut solo album Invisible Forces in 2002, Morganics juggled a plethora of tasks from community work teaching b-boying in detention centres, refugee camps and youth centres, to travelling and collaborating with people all over the globe from New York to Berlin Parliament House to working with street kids in Tanzania to breaking at festivals in Rio.

Some of this process can be seen on Morganics’ one-hour accompanying documentary for his album released in 2008 Hip-Hop is my Passport, which was declared a “landmark in Australian hip-hop” by Music Forum.

During this very busy decade, Morgan also found time to combine theatre and hip-hop from the Sydney Opera House to worldwide across the UK, US and Europe in his show Crouching B-Boy, Hidden Dreadlocks, which saw him become a critically acclaimed practitioner of Australian hip-hop across the globe.

Back to the Elements in Melbourne

Now Morganics has come to Melbourne, where he is working with his old Metabass n Breath buddies Elf Tranzporter and Baba Israel on a new album, The Enemy is Within. He tells me a bit of what to expect.

“It’s music for my friends and enemies. In this one track I rap from a trady’s point of view, a guy with the southern cross tatt that he wears like a swastika. He’s got the bikie dad and is pretty racist, and then he finds out that he has Vietnamese in his family tree. Oh shit! The second verse is from the point of view of the refugee and I’m hoping this album will stand out as important in Australian hip-hop.”

While he doesn’t identify with a lot of BBQ and beers culture of “Aussie Hip-Hop”, he cites Jimblah, Delta, One Sixth, Remi and Impossible Odds as inspirational, and is very excited to find out more about our own brand of Melbourne roots and electronic culture.

Morganics has started Wednesday fortnightly events Bringing It Back to the Elements. For a run-down on this event, have a look at the event here.

His approach has been more humble and down-to-earth in a new city, as seen in his selection of hip-hop arts-loving smallish venue Horse Bazaar.

Morgan laughs, “Oh I really love that place, I’ve found it really hard to get out and explore other places as I feel so at home here.”

In terms of his current place in hip-hop, Morganics exclaims “I’m a hip-hop purist to the point I don’t think it should ever be pure, cause then it’ll lose its strength and relevance.”

He recounts a recent experience playing in the CBD.

“There’s this dude Rabi. He was straight off from his suit-and-tie work, and just came to Horse Bazaar and rocked out, he just didn’t care. That’s what I love about hip-hop, you can’t help but be moved by the music.”

Written by Kristian Hatton.

Inkstain Pro – Gyana (self-released)

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Inkstain Pro are a click in Melbourne well connected with the various facets of underground hip-hop around this town. The album contains appearances by such luminaries of the scene, like DJ Sizzle (DJ to Seth Sentry), Julez, Hugo (best known for his work on YouTube sensation Rap News), and Dyslexic CM – front man for High Society, and known for his collaboration with Warpa!nt in hit dubstep song ‘Beddageddabeddabeat’.

Album Gyana is chock-full of content, there’s more to absorb than all the usual aussie-bbq-n-beer-bullshit that I personally get sick to death of hearing pumped on Triple J.

To name but a few moments. Tracks like ‘Pack Light’ pack crew heat mixed with lyrical introspection, there’s fun moments with the ebbing and towing roller-coaster lyricism between lead rapper Link McElvenny and guest Julez, Melbourne’s bass music scene shines in beats and scratches blasted by DJ Peej, and there’s DJ Sizzle’s immaculate cuts, Flipsonic + Hyina Mufasa’s hilarious psychological breaking down of dead-end bogan culture, and the ode of ‘Richtor Ricky’ containing an important message on idiotic commodore culture in our fair country.

Gyana gains a more serious tone on the subject of our chemical culture in ‘On Task’, which really got me from a shared experience in growing up in a world where recreational drug-taking is the norm, and difficulty can be had in struggling between great heights and staggering delusion. Not many songs out there really have the guts to get under the skin of this sort of taboo like Inkstain Pro do with their commentary.

I could talk a lot about the other 10+ songs, but there’s only so much room here.

By the time it got up to ‘Frogs in the Pond’, Gyana seems more like a couple of works, and lost its initial impact to me. It’s not to say that the last few tracks aren’t quality, it’s just that with a sustained listen to an album that has a remarkable amount of content and thought placed in, it can wear you out mentally. An album of this length can have that effect in our contemporary high-turnover and low-concentration culture, and this might be something for Inkstain Pro to consider here for the future.

Or maybe not. Maybe it’s about learning to listen properly for once, instead of constantly regarding music as disposable in these days and times.

For those who actually still value individual works and have Gyana under their skin, this album may be just the thing everyone has been looking for in Australian hip-hop. For me, this album will require more than my usual allotment of review time to listen to it again. And maybe again, it inspired me like no other hip-hop release has in Australia for a long time now, and Triple J better get a hold of this one if they’re going to do “Aussie Hip-Hop” justice.

FREE Release: http://inkstainpro.bandcamp.com/

KL – Post Traumatic Stress (RaRaKIN Collective)

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RaRaKIN are a collective established with the intent of inclusiveness and extension within Australian hip-hop. They operate outside of the traditional Aussie structure of put-on bogan accents, roughneck aesthetics, and BBQ references, in favour of leftfield theatric antics, zany humour and a sense of real fun in their craft.

KL is one member of RaRaKIN who has released this extensive 17-track album free for download. Post Traumatic Stress is heavy in concept, and is irreverently humourous at intervals, soulful and thought-provoking at others.

Without proper reference, one isn’t sure whether or not KL is taking the piss, with dank and tight beats and over-the-top alcohol-related violence references in ‘Bashing Alcohol’, and then completely changing in pace in next track ‘Intro/Crazy’ with a spacious and heartfelt beat, and KL passionately singing off-key about feeling crazy. Post Traumatic Stress does indeed have a crazy sort of tilt in terms of objective song order, which some could find a bit off-putting, but others may find this to be a creative and eclectic melting pot of an album.

It’s impossible to explain the album in any great detail because there’s a lot of depth and content in it. Post Traumatic Stress really feels like it’s a couple of albums worth, but this indicates an album that isn’t disposable after a couple of listens, and one that could grow on you. This breaking of objective album pace, along with room for production improvement and lack of natural vocal polish and occasionally coherency (although natural and complex) are the only areas I can fault KL on, but these are seemingly early days yet for this rapper.

Objectively, KL is highly original in terms of lyrical flow and doesn’t seem put on, which is something I find obnoxious with a lot of hip-hop. KL is obviously quite happy in his own style and skin, and doesn’t have to resort to played out hip-hop cliches to get central musical messages across in rap. My favourite track would have to be ‘Scream’, a powerful triplet-driven harder cacophany release of rage that seems comical and intense by contrast.

Definitely another leftfield act in Australia to watch out for in the future, and from what I saw of RaRaKIN’s energetic live performance that translates even better on stage, they also are rapidly increasing their fanbase. This says to me KL and the rest of the collective are on an incline as musicians, and rightfully so.

8 out of a possible 10 Haarp Strings

Link: http://kl-rarakin.bandcamp.com/album/post-traumatic-stress

Friday 21 June – Wordsmiths present Bastian Killjoy + Muma Doesa

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Bastian Killjoy and Muma Doesa are two of Melbourne’s most live hip-hop artists, and their eclectic range of shows they feature in recognize a myriad of forms available for contemporary musicians to utilise.

These shows feature not only the raw ferocity of unparalleled and professional wordplay, but also a wide range of beats from dancehall to straight golden-era boom-bap to modern electronic bass.

This particular show marks a special occasion for Killjoy and Doesa, in that they are combining forces to release their individual album for Killjoy’s label Wordsmiths at the Revolver Bandroom in Prahran.

Support acts for this event are Quashandi Bahd, Seeka, Vytal Juan, Emjay and the Second-Hand DJs. Tickets available online at Moshtix or $15 on the door. Doors open at 8:30pm.

Friday 21 June 2013, Starts 8:30pm, Revolver Bandroom, 229 Chapel Street, Prahran. $15.

FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/447993938610237/?ref=2

Sounds Like: https://soundcloud.com/bastiankilljoy https://soundcloud.com/muma-doesa