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Drapht & Downsyde - City Brothers In Arms

Author: Matt Unicomb
Monday, 9 March 2009

Western Australian hip hop veterans Drapht and Downsyde will be crashing into Sydney shortly as ringleaders of the anticipated City Brothers tour. 3D’s Matt Unicomb has a brief chat.

Since the early 2000s, Drapht and Downsyde have been names synonymous with the rapid rise in the notoriety of hip hop in this country. Their hip hop monopoly on their home city, Perth, has been unmatched by any Australian artist elsewhere, and together they have ensured that Western Australia remains a force to be reckoned with. Representing the nationally renowned SBX collective, alongside the likes of underground champions Clandestien, Hunter and Funkola, Drapht and Downsyde are owed much of the credit bestowed upon this new generation of recording artists, for it was they who stood as the voices of today’s emerging wordsmiths, producers and promoters. For many, Drapht and Downsyde was the first contact with homegrown rap music. Without these artists, Western Australia wouldn’t have a hip hop voice, and Australian hip hop would be worse for it.

With both artists having been aligned with Obese Records throughout much of the last decade - Drapht has released his last two records through the Melbourne-based label - they, along with Victorian kingpin Pegz, have seen hip hop rise up from the gutters of our nation’s laneways, and become something monstrous. Drapht’s Jimmy Recard clocked in as the second most played track on national youth broadcaster triple j, and gained a place in the annual Hottest 100 poll’s top ten. In the summer of 2008-2009, both acts consistently performed to thousands over a string of festival dates, and further cemented their place at the very forefront of Australian live music.

Downsyde are regarded by many as the most influential and original live hip hop band in the country. The six-piece outfit, which includes a drummer when live, has spawned two highly successful solo careers, with MC/producer Dazastah, and MC/producer Optamus forging numerous production ties interstate, and appearing on dozens of releases from artists all around the country over the last few years.

As a group, few acts, if any, can surpass their influence. As one of the country’s original festival party starters, and one of the first acts to cross over into mainstream recognition, Downsyde are one of the few who can truly claim veteran status in this current climate. The group, consisting of Dazastah, Optamus, Shabazz, Cheeky, Hi Hat and DJ Armee, demand mention whenever Australian hip hop is discussed.

Announced earlier this year, both acts, Downsyde and Drapht will be co-heading the national City Brothers tour, something that has not been done by any two Australian acts in hip hop’s lifetime. The two will not only be co-heading the tour, but performing alongside each other for the duration of the night. “We’ve spent about three months sorting out this City Brothers Tour. From a live perspective,” states Optamus excitedly. “There’s been a lot of rehearsals and a lot of planning going into creating a combined show. It’s going to be an hour-and-a-half of the two of us together. To have the two of us double heading this tour is awesome. It wasn’t necessarily us sitting down and saying, ‘hey, we’re both going really well, let’s go on a tour.’ It was more that we’re all mates, and seemed like a great idea.”

WHO: Drapht and Downsyde
WHAT: Play City Brothers Tour at Great Northern Hotel, Byron Bay / Newcastle University / Enmore Theatre / ANU, Canberra
WHEN: Sunday 8 March / Friday 13 March / Saturday 14 March / Thursday 19 March
MORE: myspace.com/drapht / downsyde.com.au

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