Melbourne hip hop artist Mantra and 1200 Techniques’ DJ Peril were on hand for the unveiling of the Australian Music Vault’s newest exhibition honouring the history of Australian Hip-Hop.
Australian Music Vault curator Carolyn Laffan welcomed Mantra and Peril saying in a statement, “Hip hop has been a vibrant part of Australian culture for almost 40 years yet it remains a largely misunderstood art form. We’re hoping that by shining a light on the stories of Australia’s hip hop pioneers and emerging superstars we’ll kick-start a new conversation about hip hop’s positive messages of inclusion, community and respect”.
New to the Australian Music Vault are additions from 360, 1200 Techniques, A.B. Original, Backstreet Boogie, Baker Boy, Bias B, Bliss n Eso, Def Wish Cast, Downsyde, Drapht, Elefant Traks, Golden Era, Hilltop Hoods, Hydrofunk, Illy, Koolism, Lady Lash, Layla, Mantra, Maya Jupiter, MC Trey, Muph & Plutonic, Nuffsaid, Obese, Resin Dogs, Sampa The Great, Strait Up, Styalz Fuego, Tkay Maidza, TZU, Urthboy, Wire MC.
1200 Techniques are Australian hip hop pioneers. “We started out in ’97. The first stuff we put out was right in the cusp of 2000,” Peril tells Noise11.com. “We were just young kids having fun. We didn’t really know where it was going to end up. One of our singles ‘Hard As Hell’ got a bit of play on Triple J. Then we brought ‘Karma’ and it went to the next level because the producer of that film clip Michael Gracey went on to make The Greatest Showman with Hugh Jackman.
1200 Techniques successful merged rock and hip hop. “I was from the alternative scene as much as I was the hip hop scene,” Peril says. “I added a guitarist and we were the first guys, like Resin Dogs, doing live instrumentation with hip hop which opened us up to the rock fraternity because we were playing live. It had a musicality to it. I’d like to think that we were one of the first guys to bring instrumentation and musicianship to hip hop. It was a big plus for us getting over the hump”.
Mantra is impressed he has become a museum piece. “I feel like a relic sometimes. It feels like a trip,” he tells Noise11.com. “It is something I never imagined, not just for myself, but for Australian hip hop in general. To see it being recognised like that and incorporated into essentially out Hall of Fame for music, it is a big deal”.
He says if he had of known music would turn into a career he would have kept more of the items from the past. “There is a lot I didn’t keep that I should have,” he says. “At the beginning of my career, it never felt like this was something that would become such a massive part of my life. I didn’t put everything aside. I felt that would jinx it but I did keep a lot. When I was approached to put something in I did back and revisit what I did keep and it was a nice trip down memory lane”.
Mantra says he wasn’t around for the start of Australian hip hop like 1200 Techniques, he did begin when the genre was gaining mainstream acceptance. “By the time I came to it, while it still wasn’t mainstream in the media, it had existed for a good 20 years. There still wasn’t a clear inroad visible to the music industry and it certainly wasn’t something we assumed would become a career. It was something I learned was rich with history and that was the thing about hip hop here and overseas. It started as a grassroots movement by people expressing themselves. It was a badge they could wear. It became a cultural identity they could adopt. What changed after that was people taking it seriously and developing sounds and styles that also appealed to people outside that culture”.
Australian Music Vault presents Hip Hop is now open at Arts Centre Melbourne. The Australian Music Vault is a free exhibition.