Entries in Hip Hop (120)


Going through Hip hop Portals with Perth MC Marksman

Perth MC Marksman Lloyd is climbing up the hip hop ladder here in Australia, 2017 saw him share the stage with hip hop heavyweights Atmosphere, Brother Ali, Drapht, Thundamentals and joining Seth Sentry on his 'Play It Safe' tour.  Marksman just dropped a new single dubbed ‘NOMO,’ a no bullshit jam that takes aim at our need for recognition and the psychological and substance issues we are plagued by as a result. 

He’s currently on tour promoting his EP “Portals’ and we catch up with him ahead of his Sydney show at The Brighton Up Bar on the 21st September to chat about why ‘NOMO’ is a song about anxiety, why he never eats before he hits the stage and why his fans are so loyal. 

You’ve shared the stage with some pretty big names, what would be your most memorable moment?

I'd have to say Atmosphere and Brother Ali. They were huge inspirations for me coming up as a young emcee so to share a show with them was a dream come true. That or jumping on stage with Peking Duk at Stereosonic. 15,000 people. Knees shaking like crazy. Awesome vibes though. 

You just released ‘NOMO,’ could you tell us what the track is about?

Put simply it's about anxiety. "Annie" in the chorus represents anxiety and I've personified it saying, "I ain't dancing with you" I'm not gonna be a slave to substance to get a hold of it. On another level it's about how that need for recognition that we're obsessed with in our generation is a big cause of that anxiety. In the second verse I'm talking to a girl who's trying to be an actor but it's killing her slowly because of her need for fame. I think a lot of people can get stuck in a pretty vicious cycle of that on a quest for validation. 

Your new EP ‘Portals’, could you tell us about it?

Yeah it's just an amalgamation of everything I've been inspired by over the past two years. It varies a lot sonically but so does my taste in music so it jumps around quite a bit. That's just us having fun with it I think. 'Gene Simmons' is probably the first "happy love song" I've ever written. 'Sugarman' is probably the realist thing I've written. I just wanted to lay myself bare without thinking too much about how things fitted together or what's popping off in the current music landscape. 

Favourite dish before heading on stage and why?

Never before heading on stage. Always after. Makes you look forward to the show more because eating is the best thing we as humans get to do, so looking forward to the meal afterwards is like the reward. My girl is Indonesian and cooks killer rendang. Got to go with that. 

How do you find the support for hip hop with your audiences and peers? 

I feel like the peeps who support my music and come to my shows are the most loyal and loving crew around. I'm blessed in that regard. In the age of disposable music and dwindling attention spans I feel like I'm supported by fam that will still listen to a song that is over four minutes. Hip hop in this country is expanding and it's incredible to see the wave that is currently coming through. Exciting times for sure. Cats are no longer scared to experiment and be different. 

What can people expect at your upcoming tour? Any surprises?

At the launch in Perth we have an acapella group called ‘Daring’ joining us on stage for a few songs. I'm going to get up everyone I collaborated with and make it something really special for the hometown.  Then for the rest of the tour I have my band with me. We are fam before we are a band so it's just a good time. I'm contending for the most energetic live set on the planet so crew will have to come through to see if that's true or not. 

After the EP, what’s next?

Continuing to grind. If I've learned any lesson doing this independently it's that you don't slow down or rest on your laurels. We are already working on new material and I feel like any creative who does it because deep down they know they have to will tell you that it doesn't stop. It can't. We have a new song we are working on with a gospel choir that is probably my favourite thing I've written to date. We just keep moving. 

What stimulates your soul? 

My girl runs a charity in Bali called ‘Love Thread Project’ so we are there quite a bit. It's like a second home. I'd say cruising along the coast in Uluwatu on a rented old school motorbike with Rodriguez in the headphones comes pretty close for me.

'Portals' EP is out now via Firestarter Distribution feat. 'NOMO', 'Seven Laps' and 'Pause'

Listen to NOMO on Spotify and Apple Music

Pre-order the ’Portals’ EP now via iTunes


5 Things Ash Shakur Does To Never Feel Alone

MC Ash Shakur dropped his latest reflective jam ‘Never Alone.’ The track oozes shiny elastic synths and jingling percussion. The playful rapper is an experimental musician, illustrator and all round creative from South London with a strong DIY ethic which chimes through across all his content. Known for a soulful and positive approach to hip hop, musically he combines old and ‘nu skool' sounds with a lyricism that blends social commentary with personal goings on, often tackling sensitive topics in an uplifting manner. 

We sit down with Ash and find out what 5 things he does to never feel alone are. 

1. Making my mother draw stuff

I like to see her ideas and bring some of those drawings to life on fabric or a bag for her, she would love that. She's busy so it's fun to catch her and get her to do some art.

2. Hit the gallery 

I'm always going to galleries and exhibitions in London and when I travel aboard it's good to some new work that could inspire me to create something new and see things from a different perspective. 

3. Designing  

When you're up early in the morning and late in the night working on new designs the hours move every fast it keeps the mind occupied.

4. Good food and drink

Good food and drink will keep anyone busy haha but not to much as too much of anything isn't a good look. I do like cake!

5. Great music

Great music can make you dance, think and feel all types of different emotions. It's the answer to some of our issues we relate to the songs we listen too and have that connection too.  Sing the chorus of your favourite song and dance like nobody is watching that will never make you feel alone!




New kids on the block Five Coffees are your new favourite rap group coming straight out of Sydney, Australia. The outfit are making waves with their latest album ‘A Little Revolting’ which touches base on many social issues that inflict Australia today. 

We sit down with Dean and he let’s us know what 5 albums influenced the group and why. 

1. Kamasi Washington - The Epic

As a saxophone player and songwriter I'm always on the lookout for players who are pushing the boundaries. Washington is a leading player in the world right now and his album is so deep. The first track on the album has that 'wow' factor! So deep. 

2. Hiatus Kaiyote - Talk Tomahawk

Mixing alternative jazz with heavy hip-hop beats is exactly what Australian band Hiatus Kaiyote does best. I admire the different direction taken in production and songwriting. There is some really great stuff in this album and I can see why it got them nominated for a Grammy.

3. John Legend & The Roots - Wake Up

This is a bit of a 'where did you hear it first' album. It is absolutely solid from the first to last beat. The heavy beats so iconic of the roots mixed with the soulful vocals of John Legend are huge. This album inspired me to write more heavy funk tunes. 

4. Kendrick Lamar- DAMN

Probably the best album of last year, Lamar's rapping is sublime. His heavy messages and content mixed over huge beats is seamless. His headline set at Bluesfest was a festival highlight. We're always trying to have even half the energy of Kendrick.

5. D’Angelo - Black Messiah

This guy just keeps delivering. Anything he releases is iconic, captivating and compelling and this album is no different. D'Angelo is one of the most respected neo soul artists going around. He can do no wrong. We are always looking to emulate his minimalistic approach to songwriting. 


Meet UK MC Otis Mensah, the rapper who is driven by instrumentals 

Otis Mensah is a young storytelling poet and rapper based out of the UK. Describing himself as an alternative hip hop artist, he has had one hell of a year performing at Glastonbury and releasing a number of singles. 

We sit down with Otis to discuss inspirations, the art of rap and new music. Harry Upton writes.

Tell us about a typical day in the life of Otis Mensah?

A typical day for me usually consists of listening to a lot hip-hop music, a lot of boom bap and contemplation. Keeping up to date with all my favourite artists and discovering new realms of music and artistry. I spend of a lot my time working out my release schedule and writing new music and poetry, whilst monitoring my work and figuring out how to best progress to reach the goals that I’ve set myself for my music and art. I also try to keep up to date with emails and bookings as an independent artist. A typical day for me, when I have a show in the evening is usually spent rehearsing, drinking lots of honey/lemon tea; trying to preserve my voice and getting into the headspace I need to be in to perform to the best of my ability.

I recently had the opportunity to see you live and you have quite a unique style and flow, how would you describe it?

I’d describe the style and realm of music that I consider myself to be in as alternative hip-hop, which I feel necessitates a level of experimentation and openness stylistically when it comes to flow and my approach to writing music. I’d describe the style & flow as off-kilter and slightly to the left.

And you perform a mixture of spoken word and hip hop, was it always the plan to do both?

I feel like the two lend themselves to and fuel each other so it kind of happened naturally that I participated in both worlds of hip-hop and spoken word. When I feel that I can’t write within the parameters of an instrumental, I often find I’m able to write without music, which ends up sounding a lot more free-fall but in essence is the same expressionism. I don’t tend to think of them as separate and feel that the kind of hip-hop artists I’ve been inspired by naturally lean towards a style of hip-hop that is more poetic. My perception of rap as an art form is ‘rhythm-assisted-poetry,’ which is a term that I discovered online but feel best represents the art form that I love so much and see myself contributing to. I feel that versions of rap music that don’t fall under that definition are essentially pop music that uses or sometimes extorts the art of rap. 

So who do you like listening to?

I listen to so much hip-hop, different styles, sub genres and cultures. Some of my favourites are people like Childish Gambino, Kid Cudi and Open Mike Eagle. I’m also a massive fan of the Rhymesayers collective so artists like Atmosphere, P.O.S, Dem Atlas. Common is also one of my favourite artists and enjoy listening to a lot of The Roots.

How do you go about writing new music?

Most of my writing is driven by the instrumental, I’m currently working alongside some incredible producers including the intern from Berlin, who creates soulful, jazzy, mellow, sample-driven, boombap instrumentation and hearing his instrumentals along with others lead me to the place where I’m able to sit and write. Writing for me is very personal and I use it as a means of therapy and expression. I find I’m able to write at points when there’s been a natural build-up of thoughts, ideas or worries, internally which eventually translates into what is my music and poetry, externally on paper.

Does it take on a new form when you perform live? 

Yeah, it definitely takes on a new form when performing live, it almost feels that in focusing on the performance aspect of a song I disconnect slightly to the emotional attachment I made with the lyrics when writing them and I’m able to observe the music from a spectators standpoint to see how what I’m saying relates to others, which teaches me a lot about my own songs.

2017 looks like it's been a big year for you, what have been the highlights so far?

It’s been such an incredible journey so far, I’d say one of the highlights was being able to perform at Glastonbury Music Festival on the BBC Introducing stage. It was an amazing experience and showed me what is possible with my art and music. I found the whole experience truly inspiring and encouraging knowing that I was given the opportunity to perform on a stage of that calibre, at the same festival alongside some of my favourite artists. Another highlight was recently traveling to Berlin to meet up with my producer the intern and being able to sit together with him to discuss new ideas and music, whilst recording some new material in SoundCloud Studios.

For people who haven't seen you live, what could they expect?

I try to create an atmosphere live that resembles a journey from start to finish, where the audience can grow together with me, accompanied by some mellow, Boombap instrumentation, lyric heavy songs. I guess you can expect high energy, narrative, an introspective look into my life and potentially a light shined on our shared existential quarrels.

What's coming up next for Otis Mensah?

I plan on continuing a series of single releases that I started during the beginning of 2017, available on platforms like SoundCloudBandcamp and now Spotify, working with producers like; The Intern, Oskar Rice, Elijah Bane etc. In an attempt to remain consistent, continuing to grow and develop with my music and progress my sound and style. Along with releasing visuals to accompany the new music; telling the story of my music and trying to make an artistic statement from a perspective that hasn’t been reached before. I’m also currently planning a UK tour and will be playing live as much as possible; all updates on new music and live dates will be made available over on my Facebook/Instagram. Just continuing to reach the people who feel they can relate to my music and growing a community who are able to feel less alone in solidarity with the art and culture called Hip-Hop that we love so much.

What stimulates your soul?

Experiencing hip-hop music & culture, being able to contribute to that myself through writing & performing my music, reaching people through my art, and spending time with loved ones.


Isolation and the rise of Perth hip hop scene with Premiss 

Premiss are an impressive eight piece hip-hop/neo-soul ensemble currently tearing up stages all around Perth. The outfit continue their unconventional venture of writing music and serving it up to the best emcees around with new offering 'Just For Kicks', featuring the talents of Coin Banks and Marksman Lloyd. Led by bandleader and composer Brendan Scott Grey.  

We sit down with Brendan and chat about the rise of Perth MCs, working with Coin Banks and how the isolation of Australia helps us in the rap game. 

Your track ‘Just for Kicks’ is about child labour industry. What got you interested in this issue?

 'Just for Kicks' was inspired by a news clip Marksman saw featuring people in the US camping outside a shoe store overnight for the chance to be the first to buy the latest brand of sneaks. Watching this it occurred to him that the person who made the shoes was probably sleeping on the street as well, albeit for very different reasons. Looking at the dichotomy of these two scenarios became the inspiration for this track and our work with various charity organisations with the release.

What rappers are you currently listening to?

Man, heaps of stuff at the moment, so much new talent popping off locally and around the world. Sylvan La Cue is definitely taking up a lot of my playlist space, so inspired by his works, always keeping an eye on whatever he's doing now. Local cats POW Negro have got some dope new tracks that i've been lucky enough to hear before their official release, peeps are gonna lose it for this EP. Perths' Scottish liaison Silvertongue has got some incredible new works i've had the privilege of checking out prior to release, super poignant as usual from that guy.  And of course Sampa the Great and Jurrasic 5 are always featuring in there somewhere.

What is it like working with Coin Banks?

Me and Coin have been working together for years now so it's a very predictable experience! We first put stuff together on his Heads and Tails EPs, he would send me beats and I'd write horn parts to be recorded live over the top. From there we spent years working together on live shows utilising a full band (which became the foundation for Premiss) or adding a horn section with a DJ. Since then we've been consistently featuring on each others works including his latest release, there's even a few awkward shots of me in his latest video clip playing sax! 

How do you see the hip hop world in Australia vs internationally? Do you think there is room for growth? 

Man good question. It can be hard to judge where Australia is at compared to the global scene. Our isolation really still does affect what we're exposed to (especially in Perth) but at the same time isolation is necessary for punctuated evolution so it may prove our greatest strength in time. I feel like the Australian hip-hop scene is in a huge growth period atm, there's so many voices and styles coming to forefront that move outside standardised tropes. Trap is quickly becoming more and more musically sophisticated and a blend of live band elements with DJ's/ samplers is becoming the norm. Content is becoming more about our own cultural issues and societal problems which inspires me a lot. I suppose the big thing which we're missing in Australia is the venues to play at! But fuck it, really this music was made for house parties anyway, might be time to return to that.

Why do you think there is a rise of rappers coming out in Perth?

Yeah, there definitely is a rise! I honestly don't know. The foundations in Perth hip-hop were sown just over 20 years ago now by the likes of Downsyde and Syllabolix, that's a long time for a cultural identity to solidify. We may have just hit that tipping point where raps have become so accepted as an art form that our generation feels very comfortable in using it as a form of expression. Someone should write a paper on it!

What other projects are you working on?

I'm super lucky at the moment, have got a stack of projects I'm running or collaborating with which is keeping me busy and inspired. The West Australian Youth Jazz Orchestra lets me write/arrange for hip-hop shows a couple of times a year which is stupid fun. Just finished a show featuring POW Negro, Mathas, SIlvertongue, Hyclass and Macshane. Already working towards another show in December with some new feature MC's. Putting together two new singles (which we just need to record) with DT and Silvertongue which I'm pumped to show everyone. Going to be recording on a track with POW Negro some time soon and am touring with Drapht in September. And in between all that I've got the great pleasure to be running the bands for Hyclass, DT and Marksman Lloyd in upcoming gigs. Definitely feeling pretty blessed to get to work with all these incredible artists. 

What stimulates your soul?

Music. It's one of those double edged sword kind of deals, if I'm honest with myself I'm only really happy when I'm creating, playing or listening to music. Does feel like a bit of an addiction sometimes and definitely has its impacts on other parts of my life but I guess it's just the cards I've been dealt. That being said a good round of Dungeons and Dragons with good peeps and a bit of herbal is a close second.