There’s a track on my upcoming album called “Whatever Happened” in which I tell a story of my experience of hip hop and how it has changed over time. As you can expect from the title, I generally propose that things have changed but not necessarily for the better. My adventures last night got me thinking about the track and whether or not it’s me that has changed rather than hip hop.
The story goes like this…
At about 2pm I got a call from The Empty Cup (who, incidentally, dropped a killer verse for one of the other songs on my album). It was a brief convo in which he informed me that he was having a gathering at his place and folks were going to be having a bit of a cypher. Naturally, I was like “Hell yeah.”
So, I rock up at his place to find a bunch of folks who, as it turned out, were into the punk scene sitting around strumming guitars and having a laugh. That’s pretty old school. The hip hop and punk scenes were pretty close-knit back in the day but have since drifted apart. After an hour or so a bunch of other folks started drifting in and the cypher kicked off in Brian’s (that’s The Empty Cup) back room studio.
And it was really cool.
The folks that were rhyming were a mixture of well known and less well known cats from the local scene (Diger Rokwell, Mathas, Coin from the Stoops, Lewis Galaga to name just a few). Yet despite the substantial respect these guys have earned over years of putting in hard work, there was no trace of ego. Less experienced emcees and folks who just wanted to have a shot were given just as much time, respect and props as any of the more established rhymers. The vibe was upbeat and far from serious with all jokes being made in a positive fashion and no one was out to break anyone else down or show up anyone else.
Sometimes you get so caught up in “making music” that you lose sight of the fact that hip hop is something you do, not something you make. Given that my album is entitled “Making Space” and focusses on metaphorically clearing out the bullshit in my life as well as metaphorically developing an area of my own, the whole tone of the night gave me a brand new perspective on the music that I’m trying to bring to life.
Throwing out ideas in a cypher is something I used to do a lot but over the last few years I guess I’ve drifted away from it (my limited freestyle skills last night are probably a reflection of that fact). I can blame moving from Victoria to Western Australia, falling out of the scene, mixing myself up in bad relationships, focussing on recording or many other reasons but the truth is – I just lost touch with the reality: Hip Hop is something you have to be actively involved in.
This was not a show. It was not a studio session. It was a bunch of mates just bouncing ideas off each other and having a good time. But perhaps the best indication that it was a good night is the fact that I came home with myriad ideas zooming around my skull and I woke up this morning with more inspiration to put myself into a song than I have in a long time.