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DJ Flagrant - In Hip Hop We Trust

Author: Johnny Sparklechops
Friday, 16 May 2008
Not on his own, obviously. But if there's anyone else in Australia who has been more consistent in their devotion to developing the form Downunder, I've never met them.

And it's not always an easy job. You would think, given the rise of the Hilltops, the respect of Muph & Plutonic and the crossover appeal of bands such as True Live, that the local scene is on the up and up.

But commercial airplay still eludes most artists, with Triple J the only real supporter of home grown talent from the genre.

'The program directors think that if you play an Aussie hip hop track people will switch off. And it's a vicious cycle where radio reacts to chart positions but you can't get a chart position unless you're selling singles and you can't sell singles without airplay. There's enough room for one act at a time and that's it.
Here's a good example-.at the same time Scribe released his track Fresh, Bliss n Eso recorded bullet And A Target, a great song with a great cause, and Phrase had Face It, but neither had decent airplay because the stations said they didn't have the room. They were playing Scribe.'

So how do you combat that-

'Well, the people who love this shit need to call up the radio stations and request it. No, don't request it-.DEMAND IT!'

But it's not to say the scene isn't healthy. As Melbourne and Adelaide fight for the right to be known as the Aussie hip hop capital, the quality of locally produced music has gone through the roof in recent years.

Rather than imitating US artists, our young wannabes have developed their own style, their own voice and their own attitude (you can still be socially aware even when you live in a 'lucky country' right-).

'Oh, for sure. We're starting to get notoriety in Australia because of what we represent. We now represent OUR country rather than imitating a style, but when you go into the ghettos of other countries they have their own struggle and don't even understand who the hell John Howard is.
But because we don't get the same support from labels and radio, I feel like a pioneer every single day. We haven't even scratched the surface yet.'

As well as championing the cause, Flagrant manages local stars Phrase and M-Phazes.

'They're both great artists who are getting better all the time. Phrase's new album is really different and I'm excited about it. It features Kram from Spiderbait, Wendy Mathews, Bliss and Eso, Harry from Cat Empire, Max White, Ian Kenny from Karnivool and of course Daniel Merryweather, Phrase's long time counterpart.
It's the first time a hip hop artist has done something that encompasses so much of the Australian music scene and I think it's going to shake things up'.

But then there's Flagrant's own release on the Grindin' label, which showcases its own fair share of Skip Hop.

'My new album is a mix tape of Aussie artists. It's timeless in that all the tracks may have already come out, but it's the perfect collection for people getting into the sound. When people usually do compilations it's about their crew, but this time we've crossed all the camps and have representation from them all. The next one is already coming together and I have been talking to a very famous Aussie icon who is going to host it and I'm very very excited. I wish I could tell you who, but stay tuned. It's gonna be crazy.'

So what does this hip hop aficionado do on days off-

'I've just started a 2 man crew with Bliss n Eso's DJ, called BMX Bandits. The concept is to take all the tracks we grew up with and mash them with songs we know from now, to create a nostalgic moment in time. Stuff like Jay-Z with Led Zeppelin, Temptations with Scribe, John Farnham with Gwen Stefani. We've al
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