People often ask me how long I’ve been doing hip hop, the same people usually ask me about my 1st performance. So let me tell you about both.
1st off just let me say I’m a massive fan of hip hop – and music in general for that matter.
I fell in love with rap when my old neighbor gave me a tape of the Slim Shady LP. I was 12 years old, angry at the world and starting to rebel. That album to this day is the epitome of wordplay, flow and punchlines. For me anyway.
Prior to that tape, music for me was different. My mum listened to artists and groups like Rod Stewart, ABBA, Elton John – and we would listen to GOLD FM radio with all the classics.
My mum met my stepdad when I was around the age of 8 and he listened to bands like Slayer, Pantera and Suicidal Tendencies. Now don’t get me wrong: all those artists, groups and bands are dope. The point is hip hop wasn’t a part of my childhood until that Eminem tape.
So when people ask how long I’ve been a rapper I tell them on and off my whole life. One thing I know for sure: that tape changed my life.
My 1St performance as a rapper
I remember walking through Central tunnel Sydney on my way to meet some friends a few years ago. Anyone who knows this tunnel knows of its epic length and array of buskers lining the sides. On this particular day there were the usual suspects of guitarists, singers, singers playing guitars and guitars singing. With one exception: A man that was neither singing NOR playing guitar!
I stopped, listened and waited until he had finished the song he was performing. We made the introductions and he told me about a show he had coming up in a few months.
“There’s open mic at the end of the show after the acts. Come by and jump up.”
This was it. What I’d been waiting for… My 1st performance
I bought a pre-sold ticket for $15 – that’s right your boi paid to play his 1st show! For a long time before this chance encounter in the tunnel, I had kept telling myself: I have to wait until I’m ready before I jump up on stage. I know now that you can never truly be ready for something like that.
I contacted my cousin Adam Bowes – who is an actor and singer – and asked him to help prepare me for the bigtime. Over the next 3 months we’d meet once a week and he’d give me tips on breathing and tone. Mainly breathing as I would often forget to breathe while spitting.
The night finally arrived. I finished my shift in the kitchen and headed down the Agincourt Hotel in Sydney City. I had my kitchen crew in tow and my anxiety was peaking. I’m eternally grateful to the last act of bill that night. It was his 1st time performing a set live and the dude choked. Completely forgot his lines and stood on the stage swaying. The last 3 months of preparation with my cousin boosted my confidence and I thought: I’ve got this!
My time came…
and I hooked my phone up to the venues system for my jacked instrumentals – I had 2 tracks that night. My 1sttrack was like an out of body experience. The rush of being on-stage was exhilarating. I was finally doing it.
My 2nd track didn’t go so well.
The instrumental cut out shortly into the track. I hadn’t put my phone on flight-mode and had received a notification! I looked back at the DJ with panic in my eyes – knowing full well it wasn’t his fault. As the crowd began to turn and boo, the instrumental came back on over the speakers and I picked up where I had left off. The crowd cheered and I finished my song with no other moments of crisis.
After I’d got off stage and finished talking with the crowd, I looked at this notification to see what had disrupted the track. It was a text message from a girl I was seeing at the time. It said:
“Hey, hope your show went well x”
That was 4 and a half years ago and if nothing else, that night taught me to put my phone on flight-mode when running backing tracks through it. I can assure you it’s a mistake you only make once. As a hip hop performer it’s something I have needed to go through to become better. Many ups and downs and fuck ups. I will share them with you over these blogs.