by Yu Tan
“To spread the hip hop world, to get more people to join us on the air.” That’s what DJ Mikey, from 2SER Radio, said when asked about the idea behind the station’s History of Hip Hop at the Sydney Fringe Festival. It was to be a rap battle between east coast and west coast, inspired by a feud between east coast rapper Notorious B.I.G and west coast rapper 2Pac in the 1990s.
Mikey, together with colleague Mez, host a hip hop show called In the Red on 2SER Station. The History of Hip Hop was explored over three sessions, each focused on certain periods from the 1970s to the 1990s, particularly the rap battle in the 90s. Explaining that rappers are competitive people, Mikey and Mez structured the battle session as a competition where Mez and Mikey each picked a song from opposite sides, and then used it to gain support from the audience.
“Compared to 10 years ago, there are more crews now, there is a new album coming out every week,” Mikey said, although he expressed concern about the limited audiences.
“The best hip hop group in Australia? We both like Thundamentals and Low Budget, and we want to hear more hip hop in native tongues,” Mez said.
Mez mentioned the on-going development of local hip hop, but he was more concerned about the music itself.
“I’m not gonna like it because it’s local, I’ll follow it because it’s dope.” Mez said he valued the quality of music more than its origin. By reviewing current rap records, he felt melody took a more important part than ever before.
“But,” he said, “when you put more concentration on melody or other stuff for commercial reasons, you might lose the hip hop music.”
When Mez talked about this, he became very emotional. Commercial reasons force some artists to add more popular elements into hip hop music, and it does attract more people but at the same time, it also loses its nature.
When talking about the future of local hip hop, Mez said that to get more people to know and like hip hop, it has to be accepted by mainstream music. Although it has gained more popularity recently, it still needs more exposure.
So what 2SER did was to get more people to join them both on the air and in live performance. Like Mikey said, “To spread the hip hop world.”