Entries in MC (9)


Storytelling into Haven with NYC MC Des Brennan 

Emerging NYC MC Des Brennan is on the cusp of breaking into the hip hop scene for real. Des’s reliability and lyrical skills make him not only someone you have to stop and listen to, but also someone you can depend on. Using rapping as therapy has become a normal outlet for Des, and he continues to do it with his latest EP ‘Haven.’ ‘Haven’ beautifully draws into the light when things were getting dark for Des. 

We chat to Des about his thought process when writing lyrics, other forms of therapy he uses to fight depression and why listening to beats is his favourite thing in the world. 

Does production or lyrics come first?

Production always comes first. 

What's your thought process when you write lyrics?

My thought process usually revolves around the type of song I am trying to make, and the mood that I get from the beat I am listening to.

What got you into rap in the first place?

I just loved the way hip hop songs sounded as a kid. I knew right away that it was the genre I would be most drawn to. I listened to it non-stop. The more I did, the more I loved it. 

You use rap as therapy, do you find you need to do other stuff to keep your mind occupied?

Yes. Rap isn't my only release and therapeutic outlet. It's my favourite and most important one, but I definitely have others such as weightlifting/working out, flag football and basketball, reading books and watching TV series, doing craft beer research and hanging out with friends, etc. 

You just released an EP, how did you come up with the concept?

I came up with the concept when I was sitting in my car at the park. I was feeling pretty gloomy, so I knew I had to make something to make myself feel happier and more motivated.

What stimulates your soul? 

Writing and recording songs. Also listening to new beats. It's the best feeling in the world. There is nothing like making music. Not only do I love it but I also need it.


Denver MC Deca’s Top 5 Most Influential Albums


Deca is a rapper, producer and visual artist originally from Denver, CO who now resides in New York. His lyrics touch on universal truths that take us on an introspective journey through vividly painted physical and psychological landscapes. Dabbling in the spiritual and ephemeral, he navigates easily through classical literary tropes and mystical parables, presenting an enlightened allegory of our struggles with human existence. 

Following the success of his last album, ‘The Ocean,’ Deca takes us on a new journey in ‘Forest Agates’ which just released this week. We asked Deca his top five most influential albums. Margaret Tra writes.  


De La Soul - Stakes is High 

This album probably influenced my production more than any of the other music I grew up on. Dave's verses throughout are the reason he's one of my favourites of all time, particularly on "Stakes is High" and "Itsoweezee". The first verse of "Salome" off of my album The Ocean is a tribute and nod to their influence on me. 

It can definitely get a little preachy, but they were just doing what they've done throughout their career which is rail against popular currents and offer an alternative.

Favourite songs: Itsoweezee, Stakes is High and Dog Eat Dog. 


Nas - It was Written 

Nobody was on Nas's level at that time. I remember I was on my porch with my friend Site, and we were listening to "Beats Rhymes and Life" which had just come out. Then he put on It Was Written and it probably changed the trajectory of my life. It was a revelation for me. I had never heard anybody sound that good over a beat. I must have listened to "The Message" twenty times in a row. 

 "I Gave You Power" is conceptually one of the greatest songs ever. Doing a song from the perspective of a gun is genius. When I'm reading or listening to music I want to see everything in my head and Nas does that. To me he's the illest of all time.

Favourite songs: The Message, Suspect, Affirmative Action, I gave You Power, Shootouts and If I Ruled The World. 


Madvillain - Madvillainy

Flawless album. Doom's humour, imagery, and word play was next level and Madlib's production is perfect. There's all these unwritten dogmatic laws about making music and they threw them all out. I heard the leaked version before the album came out and my only qualm is that Doom didn't keep the original recordings of some of the verses. "Wasn't even tweaked and it leaked into cyberspace". 

Favourite songs: Money Folder, Meatgrinder, Figaro, Great Day, Rhinestone Cowboy, Supervillain Theme, All Caps and Accordian.


A Tribe Called Quest - Midnight Marauders

Midnight Marauders is as close to a perfect album as you can get. First time I heard it I was at an apartment complex above a strip club in downtown Denver called the Bradshaw zooted out of my fragile young mind. I used to skate all day every day and Midnight Marauders was the soundtrack to that whole summer for me. There's not a dud on the entire album. Countless quotables and the production is incredible.

Favourite songs: Electric Relaxation, Sucka Ni**a, Award Tour, Oh My God and God Lives Through.  


Lyricist Lounge Volume One

So many joints on this. This introduced me to a lot of rappers. Thirstin Howl, Pharoahe Monch, O.C., Ras Kass, Last Emperor, El-P, Wordsworth, Talib, the list goes on. 

Prime's "No Matter" is my favorite track. I was always searching for more from him but as far as I know that's the only thing he ever released.

Favorites songs: CIA, No Matter and Action Guaranteed.









How punk rocker Mailer Daemon turned to hip hop

From rocking a punk band to turning into hip hop. Mailer Daemon embodies a culture of music that is taking over. A fusion as you will, cross-promoting genres such as punk, pop and hip hop to create an end product that demands attention. He recently released an album dubbed ‘Ronin 3’ which seamlessly mixes organic sounds and the electro sounds providing a balance between day and night, shadow and light.

We sit down with Mailer Daemon about how he mixed his passion for punk into hip hop, how his name came about and the top 3 tracks he’s listening to at the moment. Margaret Tra writes. 

Love the name, how did that come about? 

Thanks, people do compliment the name a bunch. It just had this dope cyberpunk, 90’s hacker, Final Fantasy kind of vibe to it, and that fit the music perfectly. In Greek/Roman times, Daemon's were deities, they believed all creativity came from these summons instead of the self. Fast-forward to the internet, Daemon's are bots that automate, I like the cyber evolution of the metaphor, this mix of 'classic' evolving into 'electro' worlds was a good match to the rock evolving to hip hop vibe. 

You dabble into the alt-hip hop, how did your sound come about?

I grew playing in alternative/post punk bands in the 90’s, in the 00’s I became a producer/DJ, and in this decade I focused on hip hop, but brought in all the influences and dynamics of my musically. It comes naturally for me, it's always been about mixing and matching styles, flipping things on it's head, it's a very DIY punk approach, but also super pop and mainstream. That duality has been part of my essence since day one, it's my original form, and for this generation it makes sense, lines are always blurring and diversity is exciting. 

You just released ‘Ronin 3,’ tell us about what it’s like?

‘Ronin 3’ is the third and final chapter of the Ronin Trilogy, an alternative hip hop cyberpunk bass saga. If the first album was rock, and the second was electro-minimal, I wanted this album to be in the middle of those two sounds.  It's got the organic sounds with the electro sounds, a balance between day and night, shadow and light. The music was done by me, and the writing was done by Sage, he performed all the vocals and my guide parts, and I re-recorded my vocal parts. It was great to have the cohesion of less voices, it gave the album a solid focus. 

‘Automation’ is a funky upbeat jam from your album, what made you chose this as your first release of the album?

‘Automation’ had this interesting soundscape which reminded me of something like Prince meets Radiohead, but the hook was this grime kinda bass culture thing, and it made for such an interesting combination. People really dug the groove and the hook so we thought it would make a pretty sweet first impression. The Mailer Daemon sound is all kinda there in this tune too, you got the live alternative rock band kind of instrumentation, the funky groovy production as the rhythm section, then on top you've got the auto-tune Travis Scott type vocals. Nice combo! 

First 3 tracks you listen to your phone on repeat? 

1. Let’s go with Survivor - Eye of the Tiger. 

2. A Tribe Called Quest - The Space Program.

3. Take Me - Korn (come on you loved Korn once). 

You’re doing something different in the hip hop scene, how does it feel to be doing that?

It feels very natural, because i've always been doing something different. It feels rewarding, it's cool to bring something new to the table and to open up people's minds to different sounds and combinations. At times it's a bit tough to get momentum going when you don't fit in a 'box', but at the same time, the converse is also true, where the uniqueness really helps garner attention and support. Ultimately, in art, the purpose is the find 'yourself', find your 'voice', that is the ultimate goal. It's about finding your voice, but having the message connect with people so they can relate too. 

What’s next for you, touring? 

What's next for me is I'll be in Asia for a bit, then to the west coast of the states for a bit. What's next for me is that I'm taking the Mailer Daemon workflow into a vlogging context, so stay tuned to the Mailer Daemon youtube for the next chapter! My next project is 'Boss Level', and i'll be integrating a lot of vlogging into the creative process. 

What Stimulates your soul? 

What stimulates my soul is when a connection is made with other souls through art, a connection of souls. Darks Souls 3 was quite stimulating too. Blood Orange, Frank Ocean, A Tribe Called Quest, Chance the Rapper, Yung Lean, and Anderson Paak also stimulate my soul. Stimulate Your Soul stimulates my soul.



Digging Into The Science Of Beats With Black Milk

Detroit-based producer and emcee, Black Milk is a true master. He transcends all expectations, spinning insightful lyricism with evocative beat production. Black is constantly expanding his repertoire. His recent project with his band Nat Turner, 'The Rebellion Sessions,' is an ode to a pinnacle point in music history. As a live instrumental jazz album, the cross-genre emphasises his talents and thought-provoking intellect as an artist. Black has worked with the likes of Slum Village and Danny Brown, with intriguing collaborations from Robert Glasper and Jack White, further highlighting his artistic diversity. He is set to hit Australian shores with a mix of new beats next month and will be performing at Hudson Ballroom (formerly Plan B Small Club) in Sydney on Saturday 19th November

We chat to Black Milk about his writing process as an emcee and producer, the current hip hop scene in Detroit, and what we can expect from his upcoming Australian tour. Ayla Dhyani writes.

You released your latest project, 'The Rebellion Sessions' with Nat Turner earlier this year. Was it a purposeful decision to pay homage to the Southampton Insurrection? 

In some ways, yes. The founder and leader of the band Nat Turner is Aaron Abernathy, a solo musician and vocalist who has been featured on my albums and has toured with me playing keys and singing since the Tronic days. He named the band after the historical figure Nat Turner who lead a slave rebellion in a time when slavery was considered normal. Nat Turner broke all the rules that were set by the society he lived in by leading his peers in a new way of thinking. Musically, the affiliate of black musicians that are a part of Nat Turner are dedicated to breaking rules set forth by the music industry, the sound of the time, and genres we're placed in. Since the live instrumental project was the first time the band and I collaborated on a full project from scratch, a project that was not a hip-hop rap album that people have come to know me for, it made sense to play off the name.

Tell us about your writing process as a producer and emcee. 

My process is pretty straight-forward. I’m always producing. I make beats every single day that I’m not on the road, so I’ve always got folders of material. I’m not the type of artist who makes 100 songs and then picks the best ones. Once I step into album mode, I take the beats I want, ones that help me tell the story, I write the raps and that’s it. I make just enough songs to make a complete album. I’m pretty decisive in that way.

Coming from a city with such a strong music history, what are your thoughts on the current hip hop scene in Detroit? 

The current Detroit scene is thriving. There’s a lot of diversity when it comes to the types of rap music being made, most still with that edge that fans have come to love from Detroit artists.

You were doing some crate digging in Japan earlier this year. What are the top three records you've discovered recently that have inspired you?

Japan was ridiculous on the record front. Next level sh*t. There are so many stores and so many records. It actually gave me some anxiety, realising I will never have time to see or hear everything (laughs). As far as specific artists or records, I can’t say, but I did get put on to some crazy prog-rock records, which most people know that I love.

Any thoughts on your next project?

My next project will most likely be a Part II of 'Glitches In The Breaks.' It's a raw, hard, “fun” hip hop album with numerous guest features. 

Tell us what we can expect from your upcoming Australian tour.

Fans can expect to hear a lot of unreleased beats and few raps of some of my most popular or most recent rap songs. 

What are you looking forward to most about being out in Australia?

It’s been a while since I’ve been in Australia, so I’m just excited about getting back out there, hitting new cities and seeing how my audience has grown and changed.

If you could go back to any point in your career, would you change anything?

If anything, I might have balanced my rap career with my producer career and produced for more artists other than myself. I just produced the joint “Really Doe” for Danny Brown, featuring Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul and Earl, so I’m finally getting around to sending off these batches and producing for others.

What stimulates your soul?

Sounds boring but… production. Like I said, I make beats every single day I’m not on the road. I am almost at a point where I feel just as comfortable making beats on the road, too, which is crazy for me since I’ve been analog for so long. When you dig into the science of beats, the swing, the EQs of the drums, the samples, etc. there really is no end to how fascinating it can be. When you’re in mad scientist mode with it, you will always find something new to obsess over. 

For more information jump onto the Facebook event.


Dealing with adversity with Akroyd Smart


Akroyd Smart has been consistently performing around Melbourne over the last year since his debut mixtape “Introvert” dropped online. With sounds similar to Childish Gambino, Logic and Drake, his influences actually derive from outside of hip hop. Ranging from artists’ such as Erykah Badu, Stevie Wonder and Sam Cooke.  In his early childhood years Akroyd suffered from an identity crisis, having to grow up dealing with adversity as well as being bullied, Akroyd decided to turn his trials and tribulations into his music. 

The East side rapper talks to SYS about the definition of success, the pros and cons of Australian hip hop, as well as the personal struggles that lead to the fruition of his most recent single “I can do anything.” Bree Stewart writes.

Akroyd, your debut mixtape ‘Introvert’ has been circulating online over the last year, talk us through the latest single off that album ‘I can do anything.’ What’s the backdrop to this track?

In the context of ‘Introvert,’ ‘I Can Do Anything’ plays an important part of contrasting with the more self effacing and philosophical songs on the project. A lot of my early childhood was dealing with the adversity of trying to fit in with people and getting bullied for who I was. I know who I am a lot better now, but previously there was definitely an identity crisis. So this song sort of paints this positive uprise through any times of struggle, especially as ‘Introvert’ was created and is all about a particular point in my life where there was a lot of struggle.

I listen to ‘Introvert’ and hear a little bit of Gambino, a little bit of Drake and maybe a dash of Logic. Who are your musical influences? Anyone on a local level that you’re into at the moment?

Man, there are lots. The three you mentioned are definitely on my radar when it comes to frequent listens but I would say heaps of my influences come from outside the genre of Hip Hop. I love lots of Soul and R&B like Erykah Badu, Stevie Wonder, Sam Cooke, Michael Jackson and even Prince. I love Freddie Mercury and Queen as well as a lot of punk bands like Say Anything. And Jeff Buckley is like my Elvis. 

On a local level however, RY is really cool (Ryan, I still really want to be your best friend if you're reading this!), Mikey Hundred is another one and in fact, he was who put me on to Allday. Also Wolf Henson is making some absolute tunes at the moment There's a punk band local to me who I'm really digging right now called Set the Score. They make some really cool sounds!

You not only sing and rap your own material but you produce it too. Does the beat always come before the words do?

Beats definitely usually come before words. However, it's different every time. Sometimes a hook idea comes first. Like a melody and then some chords come in after that. ‘#barz' was like that. My old DJ, TLIK, he sent me a crappy voice recording over Facebook of him doing what is now the hook and I just chopped it up and made a beat around it. But yes, generally the beat comes first. I feel like if I create a really good atmosphere first, then the words come very easy and write themselves.

Which came first -  rapping or producing?

I guess those two naturally happened at the same time. Songwriting came first definitely and then being the recording person for any bands I was in way back when. Actually making beats and writing raps sort of happened really close and virtually at the same time.

How have you grown as an artist since you started writing music?

As I said before, I definitely know myself a lot better than I did. I think I definitely push myself more to make things as accurate as I hear them in my head. I also get a chance to research particular topics and learn about things I never knew before. I'm always learning new things.

You’re a Melbourne based rapper - do you feel the city is an inspiring canvas for a hip hop artist?

I mean it depends what you're writing about. It's all about creating moments that make you feel like you're standing in the room or the space with the artist. Personally, I focus more on spaces that affect me immediately, like my car or a room I'm in. I however, can definitely say in much more recent times, I've been walking through the city and surrounding areas and have come up with ideas just due to how I've been feeling in that moment.

What is lacking in the local hip hop scene at the moment?

I think the thing that's lacking in local hip hop is the ability to be oneself. I feel like the music most rappers are making is kind of like an impression or an impersonation of a style that's kind of popular right now. And if that's what someone likes and wants to try, that's great, do it! But I think adding your own flavour and personality to that pushes the genre forward.

If you could collaborate with one male artist and one female artist, who would they be?

I would like to make a song with female rapper, Noname Gypsy. I think she is the coolest and just so genuinely herself. Love her style. I think I would like to work with Frank Ocean, I am just really fascinated with the way his mind works and the results that come from it.

What genres outside of hip hop do you immerse yourself in? I can definitely hear some Jazz undertones in your tracks…

Any thing by Miles, Herbie and Wayne Shorter, I will love. I'm a big fan of any noisey experimental music, bands like Karnivool, Cog, Sleep Parade, Animals as Leaders, Death Grips, Clipping, are all things I listen to as well.

Are there other creative realms you get into besides music?

I really enjoy both making and watching film. A friend of mine and I have been trying to get some videos together to help convey the messages I want to explore from current and future projects so maybe some ideas will come out of the woodwork soon in the next year or so. But being involved in film and acting is something I really love to do outside of music.

Is music a full-time career path for you?

It has to be. I'm not really exceptional at much else haha!

What is your advice for other young rappers trying to come up in an overly saturated world of online music?

I would say, know who you are before putting things out. Experiment and find what is inherently ‘you' and emphasise that to the world when you do decide that you want to put music out there. Also define what success is to you and work out what and why you're really doing it. Don't do it for money because that never works and there's already enough of that out there.

Finally, Akroyd what stimulates your soul? 

A unique question for sure. I would say, stories and discussion. Anything that creates a connection between two or more individuals. That's what I've decided my purpose is and music is a tool that I can use to share and learn about this weird thing I'm in called life.