Hello everyone. I feel I have just tapped the surface on my research. I am always running into evidence of the elements of hip-hop throughout Sydney, as illustrated by this pathway filled with stunning graffiti murals. I just discovered. This was my first time experiencing a HOT January. Don’t get me wrong; I am not complaining in the least! It is just taking a minute to adjust to humid weather that is not attached with snow and sleet, so soon after New Years. After about 5 days of hot weather, we usually get a break with summer rains, here in Sydney. As you have probably seen in the news, Australia was hit with a bit of irregular weather and a few natural catastrophes in a relatively short amount of time. The country received a record amount of rain in 2010. Rains have heavily hit Queensland, one of the seven states in Australia, this year. Three quarters of the state have been declared a disaster area. The hip-hop community here in Sydney has been coming up with ways to help. In addition to clothing drives and individual donations, a group of artists from Sydney and Melbourne quickly organized the Blood’s Thicker Than Water concert: Sydney Hip Hop QLD Floods Relief Effort. The concert was slated to start at 7PM. I arrived at 6:45PM and the venue was already packed with a line over a mile long patiently waiting to get in (I Google-mapped the distance between the first and last person in line… I can’t help myself).
Kween G of Killaqueenz was one of the hosts. She agreed to emcee this event because she felt a local hip-hop concert would be a great way to help the victims of the QLD floods. “I think when we see such a tragedy in our country and abroad we as people need to come together and chip in. Any and every cent counts”. Several acts including Ozi Batla (Elefant Traks), Spit Syndicate (Obese), Dialectrix (Obese), That’s Them (LookUP), The Last Kinection (BlackChili Productions/ Elefant Traks), HorrowShow (Elefant Traks) and Thundamentals (Obese) performed to a crowd that was eager to donate in support of their Queensland brethren. The concert promoters posted a copy of the bank deposit receipt from the Premier Disaster Relief fund on Facebook. Over $10,000 was raised in one night. All of the artists came to the stage with a high level of energy that kept the crowd going until 3AM. The event lasted until 3AM. People who were unable to enter the event (due to the maximum capacity of the venue being reached) still contributed to the event, and were able to speak with artists, who mingled with the crowd waiting patiently in line outside, in between sets.
This was just one of many efforts that were coordinated by the hip-hop community in Australia. In Adelaide the Hilltop Hoods, Funkoars, Vents, Simplex, Social Change, K21, Pagen Elypsis, Mase N Mattic performed to a sold-out crowd that donated all of the proceeds of their event to the Queensland flood victims. Aussie Hip-Hop reported that Queensland hip-hop talents Seven (Triple J Unearthed winner), Syntax, Vegas Aces, Choose Mics and Tommy Ill have joined forces to record a new charity single, Together, to support communities ravaged by devastating floods throughout the state. The track, recorded under the moniker of Rap Relief, is now available for download from www.raprelief.com for a charitable donation of AU$2.00. If you want to donate to the flood relief efforts; here is an official site.
I was able to catch up with Dialectrix a couple of weeks after the show and ask him how he believed the hip-hop community could continue to help. He pointed out that one of the beautiful things about hip-hop is that it is composed of elements, which allow artists to create infinite possibilities for expression. He noted that in addition to concerts, artists can arrange events such as spoken word poetry, contribute to compilations albums, create [grafitti] art work for sale, etc… that can contribute to relief efforts. I will be sharing more of my conversation with Dialetrix in an upcoming post. In the mean time, please check out some clips from his performances:
Delving further into this idea that Dialetrix shared, it is important to note that many of the artist I have come in contact here in Sydney, see the social justice element which was prominent in the original days as an essential part of hip-hop today. They focus on making it a regular part of their work. For example, I had the opportunity to sit down with Listic. He is a talented hip-hop M.C. who has been involved in several hip-hop programs aimed at helping youth from different walks of life (i.e. economically disadvantaged youth and youth with physical disabilities). He shared his ideas about how hip-hop music itself could have a more prominent voice in discussing issues of environmentalism and climate change. He is thinking about how his next songs can speak to these issues.
As you know, Christchurch New Zealand was hit by devastating earthquakes in February. Since both Dialectrix and Listic mentioned having relatives in New Zealand, I contacted them to see how their families were coping. Dialectrix’s family was not in the impacted area. Listic was still trying to reach his family, but mentioned that the incident made him think more closely about the concept of global citizenship and how we are so much more closely connected to so many people around the globe, in part due to advances in technology. Perhaps he will be speaking to this in his music as well? I will also be sharing more of my conversation with him, as well as different artists views on the idea of a global hip-hop nation in a future blog. Thanks for your time and I look forward to your feedback.