CHEAP SOBER: LIVING UP TO THE NAME ISSUE #03 APR 2012
THE GRAFFITI TOUR PT. 1
CAPSULE: CLASSIC STREETWEAR,
APOLLO’S PLAYGROUND: ON THE COME UP
A NOTE FROM... I don’t believe in coincidence. Consider: three issues in, and we’ve got three Alex’s – including me – working on this month’s mag. Moreover, it’s clear that this is the best one yet. An exclusive interview with local up-and-comer MC Cheap Sober; a hang out with the ever awesome Apollo’s Playground dance crew; and of course, some window shopping at the Capsule store on your* behalf. Three Alex’s, three issues, the best of the lot. No coincidence. *our - Alexander Panagiotou
CREDITS DIRECTOR EDITOR ART DIRECTOR BUSINESS MANAGER MEDIA DIRECTOR GRAPHIC DESIGNERS COVER PHOTO
Diego Zelada Alexander Panagiotou Jason Li Alex Ong Ambar Sidhwani Yuka Yanai and Alex Lancuba Jason Li
CONTENTS MZ TRINA’S COLUMN 04 The Many Faces of Australian Hip Hop Culture Katrina Celica
STREET ART | ARTICLE 05 Streetwalkin’: The Graffiti Tour, Part 1 Diego Zelada MUSIC | FEATURE ARTICLE 09 Cheap Sober: Living Up To The Name Kim Tan DANCE | ARTICLE 13 Apollo’s Playground: On The Come Up Alex Ong
FASHION | REVIEW 15 Capsule: Classic Streetwear, Contemporary Flavour Daniel Bouzo MUSIC | REVIEW 17 Wiley - Evolve Or Be Extinct Soul Benefits - The Facts EP Galapagoose - A Time For Us
FINAL THOUGHT 19 Caught in Cabamatta... Ambar Sidhwani
[ CHECK THE RHYME ]
BACK WITH A PACT AND A GUARANTEE, THAT IF YA HANG AROUND NOW YOU’LL HAVE TO SEE, WHAT I DO TO A BEAT AND I DO IT WITH EASE, SINCE 16 BEEN ON THE MOVE IN THE STREET, MOVIN’ TO EAT, MO-MOVE WHEN I SPEAK YA NEVER SEEN WHAT I SEEN SO I’M DOOMED WHEN I PEAK AND THE FACT IS THAT I AIN’T EVEN AT MY PEAK, A YOUNG C*NT THAT’LL COME AND ATTACK A BEAT. - KERSER (OUT TO DO)
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[ MZ TRINA’S COLUMN ]
Hip hop in Australia in the 21st Century seems to have a multitude of different faces in different scenes, representing only one or two aspects of the culture. Within each so-called scene, you get a breakdown of those who are more commercial, those who are underground, those who roll with the more active crowd and those who choose to do their own thing. There are two things that don’t feel right with this – why is there so much division within hip hop in Australia and why are people only down with a few aspects of this street culture rather than embodying it as a whole?
the many faces of auStralian hip hop culture Words: Katrina Celica Photo: Chris Chiapoco
read more of trina at: http://Mztrina.com (Confessions of a Serial Dancer) http://Hiphop.org.au (A Quest for Hip Hop Enlightenment)
If hip hop started out as a communal gathering of various raw, street artforms by crowds who were craving self-expression, then why does it feel as though this is lacking in our local events? Are we, as a result of technology and changing tastes in music and trends, given so many options that we dilute what it was that gave birth to hip hop? Is it irrelevant because our struggles aren’t the same (and less life-threatening) and we are blessed with better socio-economic conditions in comparison to previous generations? Or that self-expression is made easier through the extensive reach of social media that a simple status update or tweet is suffice to get our profound messages across? Rarely do we find local events where the audience comprises representations of the multifaceted culture born in the Bronx. We seem to have niches within a niche; musical tastes and artistic preferences becoming more widespread and mainstream. That’s just how it is today, and there’s nothing wrong with it. It would just be nice if there was more unity in the scene to help it grow.
STREETWALKIN’ THE GRAFFITI TOUR, PART 1 Words: Diego Zelada | Photo: Fran Vega
What does it take to really appreciate graffiti? A keen eye? Theoretical education? Experience? To be honest most likely all these things, and as a hip-hop culture lover who hasn’t been educated on graff-appreciation, I set out on a quest – quite literally - to understand it. First stop: basic design. I got off at Newtown station and immediately remembered why it’s been popularly termed ‘the creative hub of Sydney’. The atmosphere of the place, combined with its distinct architecture, fashionable community, and café abundance, exudes carefree ease - one that, as our resident photographer Fran Vega advised me, has been incredibly appreciative of graffiti culture.
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To begin with, size might matter. I’ve no preference for big or small graffiti works. Each has its own admirable qualities. What I loved about Newtown though, was the prominence of the murals and their stature in between buildings and near by garages. Graffiti was easy to find anywhere and in many cases the tour felt like a street version of “Where’s Wally?” with a prize to be found on almost each side street. Style and distinction. From an amateur point of view, I loved seeing distinct styles come through the artworks that I never expected. A slight disclaimer: while I’m sure an experienced graffer would be able to look at a piece and make some educated commentary on style,
[ STREET ART | ARTICLE ]
context, the artist and so on, my own rather newbie reactions more or less ranged from: “Wow this piece is almost cartoonish” to, “That piece is very similar to Van Gogh’s – A fishing boat at sea”, or, “And this next guy is like a street Picasso. His ideas are wack, in a good way!” Different strokes, perhaps, but I can enjoy it all the same. Theme. Text is a popular choice for graffers as I assume it can help them communicate their messages easily. That said I loved the creativity and attention given to really developing religious icons, animals, and abstract figures.
So what did I learn? That street graffiti will never just be an image. It can be a hidden message, a religious dedication, and expression of personality. And when looking at it, it can’t just be taken at face value. Next time you look at a piece, think of it’s size, the number of paint cans used, the time it would have taken, the planning involved, the man power required, the vision, the foresight required, the monetary cost… And if that doesn’t impress you, look at the tag date. Some of these pieces have been up since the 90’s, undisturbed and completely respected.
GOT A HIP HOP RELATED PHOTO TO SHARE? EMAIL YOUR IMAGE TO MAGAZINE@HIPHOP-LEGACY.COM WITH YOUR NAME, A SHORT DESCRIPTION OF YOUR PHOTO AND YOUR DETAILS. NO LOW-RES IMAGES PLEASE! [ PAGE 07 ]
[ STREET ART | SNAPSHOT ]
A GRAFFITI ARTIST COMPLIMENTS A WALL WITH HIS OWN UNIQUE STYLE AND DESIGN. THE RAW ESSENCE OF THIS PHOTO CAPTURES HIS PASSION AND DRIVE TO ‘BOMB’. PHOTO: JASON LI FOR MORE OF JASON'S WORK, VISIT: HTTP://I-M.CO/JASON/DESIGN WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/JLIPD
KIM TAN SPEAKS TO CHEAP SOBER ABOUT TAVERN SLANDER (HIS COLLABORATION WITH WILLIS’ AND DJ DISPUTE) AND HIS SOLO WORK. “Tell the Sniff to get Snuffed” is the current motto of solo artist and Tavern Slander MC Cheap Sober. While it sounds like a drug reference or a middle finger salute to the authorities, it really isn’t. Turns out, it’s been taken from none other than a Demazin ad; as in the cold medicine. Still, after having played around with a mix of mottos and pseudonyms including “dirty mongrel” – an inside joke between him and his mates – it’s the Demazin line that’s stuck. Cheap Sober (A.K.A. Mark Lancaster) started out after reading about a competition that Street Commodore Magazine, a car enthusiast publication, were running to find music for their DVDs to publish. Out of this spawned Cheap’s early single “Friday Night Forever”, which he wrote when he was just seventeen. Fast forward a couple of years, and things are looking pretty good – a new album, a major label deal, as well as an Australia wide tour are all in the works. But it wasn’t always like this. He lost his father and a close friend with whom he used to gig with in Brisbane last year, a double blow which he understandably describes as “two fuckin’ smacks in the face”. That particular time in his life had meant putting things like touring on hold, as
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well as having gotten bogged down in a series of bad relationships – a rough 2011 says Lancaster, to put it mildly. And in keeping, he says, the album will be dedicated to the memory of his loved ones. Asked about the effects of that experience on the sound of the album, Cheap tells me that it definitely has informed the development of a more mature solo sound for him. While he’s still got a bunch of funk-based beats, the album is still going to be dealing with the passing of his father and friend, in and amongst a slew of lighter-themed, wordplay styled songs. And for an MC whose rough-edged voice tends to be able to scrape alongside and blend of beats, the promised emotional variety seems right up Cheap’s alley. Indeed, among other things, Cheaps’s playful attitude in his music often concerns the female form – an element that informs not just his lyrics, but the relationship he has with his fans. His Facebook wall is adorned with messages like “Marry me!” and “sexxyyy thing!” (in between the “you’re a sick cunt” posts – the gender split not being too hard to discern here…), while his latest Facebook competition even had someone put forward the slogan “flash your gash” as a possible Cheap Sober T-shirt design.
[ MUSIC | FEATURE ARTICLE ]
LIVING UP TO THE NAME Words: Kim Tan Photo: Jason Li
CHEAP SOBER PERFORMING AT THE METRO, SYDNEY HIS NEW ALBUM GONE UNNOTICED
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[ MUSIC | SNAPSHOT ]
It’s all in good spirits, maintains Cheap, and he nonetheless remains respectful. At the recent Heatwave music festival, for example, he and his Tavern Slander crew were shocked at what he describes as the repulsive behavior of Obie Trice’s entourage. When an excited fan jumped on stage, she found herself being groped by Obie’s crew. “They just took it to a whole different level when they got this chick on stage. You could tell she regretted it instantly” he says.
THAT KIND OF FUEL JUST CAN’T BE PUT TO ONE SIDE WHEN WRITING A TRACK.
Still, he’s been caught out before when confronting the opposite sex though his lyrics, with journalists in the past having questioned the nature of what they’ve taken to be a penchant for misogyny in his raps. Cheap however, maintains that the songs in question were informed by the real and raw emotion of some serious wrongdoing by girl-friends past. “That kind of fuel”, he says, “just can’t be put to one side when writing a track.” Asked about his personal ambitions outside of his solo work, Cheap mentions Grouse Records, the record label and joint business venture that he
and crew mate Willis set up. “Willis wants to get it to where we’d have our own store or to a level that [the long running and seminal inprint label] Obese records are at.” The goal right now he says, is to have the groups music - Tavern Slander, Cheap Sober and Willis – to reach the shelves of JB HI-FI stores across Australia. While Willis has the head for business know-how, Cheap has been sharpening his artistic chops and has become the leading marketable act for Grouse to sign, with a deal in the works with MGM music – whose current signings include Tavern Slander’s Heatwave Festival stablemates Tech N9ne as well as Three Six Mafia and T-Pain. Following the runaway success of his single “Evil Bitch” on iTunes, Lancaster has been constantly surprised by people older than him - he’s 25 appreciating his music. One person included in this demographic might be his own mother. Cheap muses: “this album is something I could probably I show my mum. Whereas my last album I couldn’t. She would probably be disgusted by some of the shit I say on this album but it’s nowhere near as brutal as Sydney’s Worst was... I choose the tracks that I show her! ” says Cheap. After fighting to get to where he is, perhaps Sober is the operative word now.
Dancers: 1 Carla Frank 2 Kerissa Naicker 3 Alex Ong 4 Ambar Sidhwani 5 Alfred Wong 6 Katty Wong 7 Diego Zelada How did you come up with the name? First of all, we knew we all have fun dancing together so we wanted a name that showed that. So where’s fun? The playground! Everyone from anywhere has fun in the playground. Also as individuals, we have a variety of different styles in our repertoire so we thought playground was perfect describing that as well. As for Apollo, Apollo is the Greek God of music and the sun, among other things, so we thought he was appropriate. It sounds kind of cool and different though doesn’t it? We thought so! How’d you guys meet? We all met each other as part of the dance society at Macquarie University Macquarie Dance Academy – the MDA. The majority of us danced together as part of the MDA Crew or met at one of their jam sessions. Now we’re all best friends, got to love it! How long have you all been dancing? Some of us have been dancing longer than others and in more ways that one. Longest being 17 years and shortest being 2-3 years. Apart from Hip-Hop, some of us also do Jazz/Jazz-Funk,
Night 2Sunrise 7
Words: Diego Zelada Photo: Chris Chiapoco
2 Interested in learning more?
APOLLO’S PLAYGR VisittheN2Swebsiteformore info:WWW.NIGHT2SUNRISE.COM
ON THE COME UP Words: Alex Ong | Photo: Ambar Sidhwani
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[ DANCE | ARTICLE ]
WE KNEW WE ALL HAVE FUN DANCING TOGETHER SO WE WANTED A NAME THAT SHOWED THAT. APOLLO IS THE GREEK GOD OF MUSIC AND THE SUN, AMONG OTHER THINGS, SO WE THOUGHT HE WAS APPROPRIATE.
Ballet, Contemporary, Chinese dance, Krump or Cheerleading. We are quite proud of our variety of styles we have at our disposal. All the more we can learn from each other and expand our horizons of dance.
You guys have any influences? Shaun Evaristo, Brian Puspos, S*** Kingz and Movement Lifestyle have had a big influence on the guys as well as Sydney dancers Chris Chiapoco (N2S) and Cedric Roxas (Buoyan). Where as for the girls, Chachi Gonzales, Luam and Kyle Hanagami have been rather inspiring. However, what has been a huge source of inspiration is seeing each other excel at choreography or freestyle. We get all excited seeing each other do our thing! Got a shout out for the rest of the scene? Shout out to the Aussie Hip-Hop scene, lets keep it on the rise and support each other, one love. Also, we are new to the dance crew game but we are intending to break out with loads of fire! So keep an eye on us!
CAPSULE STORE: A Work in Progres CLASSIC STREETWEAR, CONTEMPORARY FLAVOUR Words: Daniel Bouzo | Photo: Fran Vega
Words: Daniel Bouzo
“Fashion is function”. - Renowned graphic designer and creative director of Staple Design, Jeff Staple With the growth and development of so many forms of media and communications, for many, fashion and clothing have grown to become much more than the essentials we need to protect us from the elements; a change which is particularly noticeable in hip hop culture. Hip hop and streetwear styles have always developed with functionality in mind, and a lot of it can be seen by looking at something as simple as the geography of the culture. Just take a look at the Wu-Tang video-clip for “C.R.E.A.M.” On the east coast you’ve got Raekwon rugged up in the “Lo-Goose”, then at the same time cross-country you can find 2Pac in khaki pants and Loc sunglasses. People wore Timberland boots and goose-down jackets for a reason, to stay warm and dry in the snowed out New York winters, just as a pair baggy Dickies and an oversized t-shirt would keep things comfortable in a Californian summer.
Streetwear has naturally evolved as fashion does, but rather unpredictably taking cues from higher-end fashion designers. For one, Kanye moved away from Polo rugby shirts to tour tees with Jay-Z; designed by French runway label Givenchy. And although we’re
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[ FASHION REVIEW ]
A Look Inside A menswear paradise located in Sydney’s CBD, Capsule Store plays host to a number of local and international of brands, with a philosophy of delivering only handpicked selections of high-quality garments. Capsule seamlessly combines classic streetwear styles with a cleaner, contemporary grown up flavour for a truly individual approach. On one side of the store you can find streetwear staples such as Mishka, Huf, Hershel Supply Co., OBEY and Upper Playground, as well as a slew of home grown labels including Butter Goods, Domestique, Grand Scheme, Zoologie, D.A.C. and Mr. Simple. Also featured under the more mature “CPSL SELECT” department are 3Sixteen, Nike Sportswear, Edwin, Shwood, Tanner Goods, Clarks Originals, Sebago, George-Guest, Vans Vault and more. For a full list of brands check out their website.
Some highlight pieces include: 1. Nike Sportswear Destroyer Jacket This letterman style Destroyer jacket from the Nike Sportswear Pinnacle range is truly a beautiful piece. The Pinnacle collection is extremely limited combining classical apparel design with innovative technical materials. The Destroyer Jacket body is made from a warm, heather grey acrylic wool blend with buttery soft brown leather sleeves contrasting well against the lighter grey cuffs and collar. With a quilted lining and earthy tones, this piece is perfect for anyone’s autumn wardrobe and is definitely one to turn heads. 2. Shwood Sunglasses Handcrafted in Portland, Oregon with the choice of both polarised and non-polarised lenses set inside a variety of natural wood frames. Due to the nature of wood grain, no pair are ever alike – a truly unique pair of sunglasses, just one reason why these are a favourite.
EVOLVE OR BE EXTINCT You may remember Wiley from 2008s “Wearing My Rolex,” a dancey bit of electro-pop-rap which had us grooving but bassheads questioning the grime star in his native England. That was four years ago now and we haven’t heard of him, but to let you know, Evolve or Be Extinct is about his 16th (but who’s counting?) album in the last two years alone. And he hasn’t run out of steam, this new release clocks in at 1 hour 10 minutes, and ranges from the hip-house of early banger “Boom Blast” to downright filthy “Ya Win Some Ya Lose Some,” a fine return to his grimey roots. If you haven’t heard this style of hip-hop before, read that term loosely. Wiley’s flow is vivacious on the bangers or menacing on darker tracks like “Weirdo” and the production is more or less dance, with synths looming at every corner and constant percussive changes. Not without its faults (“This Is Just An Album,” “Can I Have A Taxi Please,” ant the dreary “Customs” skit among the 22 tracks), Evolve or Be Extinct is an unquestionable return to form. But with such prolific output we might be waiting a while for a certified classic, for now we just have “Diaquiris.”
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[ MUSIC REVIEW ]
SOUL BENEFITS – THE FACTS EP
GALAPAGOOSE – A TIME FOR US
Coming out of Melbourne, the constantly astounding Galapagoose released his debut album Commitments, with “A Time For Us” being a delicate and crinkly highlight. One of the major hitters in the local Australian beat scene, Galapagoose comes of the back of a successful tour with LA-based Brainfeeder artist Daedelus, and this tune is emblematic of his beautiful sound. The thick and driving kick contrasting with light clicks weave around the atmospheric electronic textures. You can buy Commitments from Galapagoose’s soundcloud or from the official Two Bright Lakes store if vinyl is your thing, but do yourself a favour and get your head bobbing.
The second mixtape from Western Sydney based group Soul Benefits opens (after an intro imploring you to listen to The Facts) with “Get Down,” a bouncy, soul-sampling track that doesn’t sound too far removed from a J Dilla instrumental, but faster. It’s great in showcasing the three MCs abilities both on and behind the mic, allowing them to strut their stuff over the most energetic beat on the mixtape. In the Australian hip-hop scene, Soul Benefits are an oddity, not conforming to the sound of their famous contemporaries, opting for a distinctive late-1990s New York boom-bap sound. They’re enamoured with the sound, actually, where most cuts sound reminiscent of Slum Village, in particular “Tracks Run,” a definite highlight.
MC Storme, Young Supreme and The 26th Letter have created a mixtape with admirable and commendable effort. The production is smooth, if anything a little muddy at times, with some choice jazz and soul samples. The main criticism is that the overall feel is a little dated, but they’re just taking cues from their hip-hop heroes, but don’t we all?
CAUGHT IN CABRAMATTA... They spoke Hip Hop Words: Ambar Sidhwani | Photo: Chris Chiapoco With expensive camera equipment on my shoulder and having heard rumours about the crime rate in Cabramatta, I was getting increasingly jittery about this entire plan. “Okay, let’s draw the plan amigo” were the words that took my mind off the possibility of being robbed and stabbed. The objective was to film a video for the Groove Sydney Dance competition that showed some kids and their connection with dance. Speaking on behalf of my partner in crime, Diego, as well, it was anything but that. We entered a good looking building with shining glass doors. In fact, it looked so good, it stood out as something like an eyesore among the rest of the area. I followed Diego since he looked liked a person who knew what he was doing (although a year of knowing him should have made me realize how that this wasn’t always the case…). We walked into a room with a few students and a lady who looked like she was in charge. Diego and I were in a room with African-Australian twin sisters, an Arab boy, Iranian cousins and Arab twin sisters. It was a center for migrants only. They were quiet. Diego and I exchanged a smirk which was a signal for him to start working his magic with the kids. A few minutes later, and the room was bustling. The young children burst out with stories and anecdotes to tell us. And so with time and our objective being our constraints, we began to film. With the ipod dock in place, and music as our guide, the kids and their stories transported us to a different world. They began to relate to us their incredible stories of how they’ve had to keep their passion for hip-hop alive despite countless obstacles. For some, hiphop was a taboo in their homes. For others, it was forbidden by their religion, even. We realized, speaking to these kids, how differently hip-hop is perceived in different parts of the world. Parents felt that hip-hop had a distinct connection with thugs, crime and murder, and truth be told it’s not surprising considering how this connection is drawn time and again in Hollywood films.
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[ FINAL THOUGHT ]
A pair of African-Australian twins told us, for example, how they tricked their mother into watching them perform hip-hop by telling her that it was a ballet concert. And often, we heard remarks like this:
“Dance takes me into a different world. When I’m dancing, I feel like I’m in control and i can do anything I feel like”. These were the words of an Iranian girl who felt hip-hop and dance were her mediums of expression in life. A boy named Audi said he danced for his crew and that his sole purpose of doing hip-hop and being better was so his crew could win. Such passion and team spirit in a small migrant center in Cabramatta. There were moments in which Diego and I forgot why we were there, wanting only to listen to the stories told. Some were inspirational. Others were funny. And some, simply heart wrenching. One of the girls said,
“When I’m dancing, I’m in a happy place”. I doubt she realised the effect those words had on us. Even as the filming winded down, we felt an urge to stay on. Our worldly commitments however, made sure that did not happen. Diego and I left the center and walked quietly all the way to the station. Neither of us spoke to the other. We heard loud and genuine goodbyes from behind us. With smiles on our faces, we boarded the train. “That was... something, wasn’t it?” asked Diego. I could only nod in agreement. We realized something that day. Dance was no longer about definitions, no longer about comparing New York and LA, or putting styles into neat little boxes. It was about touching lives, wherever its presence was felt. For any lover of dance, it was nothing short of an irreplaceable moment in our lives.