EARLY BIRD MC Taking flight

Perth hip hop act Early Bird MC has taken things to a new level in 2020. After releasing singles 21st Century Blues in February, and Ganja Buss in March, he now unleashes his debut album, Ultra-truism. JOSH DONOVAN caught up with Early Bird MC to find out how music and the people around him helped him get through 2020 so far, the important message of “conscious” hip hop in today’s social climate, and how creating the album signified a major change in his life.

The last time we spoke was in February for the launch of your single 21st Century Blues which seems like a long time ago now. How did you get yourself through the craziness of 2020?

In all honesty this year, as I’m sure it has been for a lot of people, has been the most challenging, comfort-zone pushing, expansive year of my life. I have grown in ways I never knew possible and learned more about myself than I ever thought existed.

I’m so grateful to have my family around me in this time; my mum, my sister and my nephews here in WA with me, plus my dad who is over east in NSW but still here with me. And most of all, the person closest to me, that has helped me get through 2020 by loving me and challenging me to grow as a person has to be my beautiful, amazing, superwoman, power flower girlfriend Maddie.

Alongside my business partner Lionel we have never stooped and never surrendered in 2020 we decided to use this time as a springboard to launch our companies into the stratosphere. Watch out for our new fashion label HIPSEES producing custom jeans for the 21st century right here in WA.

With the album, I noticed certain tracks, Tonight, for example, featured other artists. Could you perhaps shed some light on these other artists for us?

There are a few artists that feature on this album. The track Tonight was an amazing project with a close friend of mine: Nut Meg. Meg and I decided we wanted to write a song together because of our similar beliefs and complementing styles. I knew Meg had a killer voice and she had the skills to rap so I was super keen to get some feminine energy and rock out with her dope as rap styles on this track.

Ganja Buss has feature verses from my close friends Tahr-One and MC Inazone from our group the Rhythmicsoulz. We are also working on a new collaborative album as we speak. The only other feature that I can remember is Get Amungst it that has Tahr-One on the hooks.

In today’s current social climate, how important do you think it is to create music that can resonate with a working-class audience?

Working-class, middle class, upper class, lower class: we are all essentially bound by the same social narrative. So, to answer your question I’m not sure the potency lies in broadcasting to a particular demographic. Our working-class face challenges that the affluent will never know, and the same for the well-off, they will surely face challenges in awakening that for the likes of us, who have had to suffer more, will no longer feel the burden of.

It’s a double-edged sword and without getting too deep, I believe that making music that resonates truth and speaks directly to what’s real should always remain the focus. And if that means some rich people, some poor people or no one at all ever hears your music it won’t matter because it’s coming from an authentic place of truth. This is what I promote, and this is what I believe is most important to resonate within today’s social, spiritual and evolutionary climate.

Thematically, your album addresses chasing one’s passions. Apart from your own life experiences, what inspired this core ideology for the tracks?

My observations of society and the mundane nature of school and work drive a lot of that concept. Very rarely do people ever really love all the years they spend in school only to pick from a small list of job prospects, to then spend the remainder of their life simply living a means to an end to keep the food in their belly and a roof over their head. And if they’re lucky they can enjoy the thing that really fulfills them and brings true passion in their life every now and then.

I mean, I’m all for working hard to gain a reward at the end but when we spend our whole lives working hard for some reward that never comes that’s the point I realised that there has to be a better way and something needs to be done. I was never one to stand for injustice and the biggest injustice people live is underestimating our true power. Everywhere I go I try to help people realise there is a huge wide world outside of what we think we know. Dreams are real and you can if you try, so why wait until your next life to strive for the things you love?

Writing music as personal as Ultra-truism can be a very cathartic experience, but I imagine it can also be very emotionally taxing. What parts of the writing did you find most challenging and why?

Honestly, the most emotionally taxing part of writing music for me, especially this album, aside from the late nights, sweat and tears that flowed into these lyrics, it is the fear that most of the connotations, metaphors, quotes, similes and punch lines will fall on deaf ears. And that is what drains me the most.

I know it might sound cynical, and I hope I’m wrong, actually, I’m sure I’m wrong. I know there are scores of people out there that resonate with my tunes and really can digest the concepts I like to rap about. But that’s the hardest part for me, as a conscious hip-hop artist in Perth.

Were there any particular songs that you felt were especially significant to your life?

I have to say my favourite track on this album and arguably one of the most potent songs I have made to date is Elevated. There is a huge portion of heart and soul in all these songs, but when I listen to this tune and even when I’m performing it sometimes it still brings a tear to my eye. They are powerful lyrics to me and sometimes when I look back I don’t even know how I came up with this shit – it just flows through me.

Was translating your life experiences into rap form something that came easy to you?

It has been a long and arduous journey and along the way, it has most definitely not been easy at all. Pain is our greatest teacher and usually unfortunately pain is the only way people will learn. But now for me, it is extremely easy to translate my observations into lyrics. In all honestly, it would be foolish of me to claim this skill or gift or whatever it is as my own doing. It’s almost like music in general has been medicine in my life and helped me heal so many wounds.

Hip hop found me at a very young age. I have always been dyslexic and somewhat ADD, and hip hop gave my mind and my soul a medium to express the kind of things that most other people hide away from. Now when I open myself up to rhyme it’s like muscle memory and the less I think the better it flows.

You lean toward more of the “conscious” hip hop than most Australian rappers, but have you found inspiration from acts within the country or within WA and if so how have they influenced your craft?

Great question, most definitely. Artists like Mantra have inspired me a lot in the early years and helped expand my awareness. Pegz was always on point and stood for what a profound lyricist means to me. Illy used to make some beautiful poetry before he moved to more mainstream stuff.

So, yeah there are a couple of national acts that have inspired me creatively and philosophically. Locally in WA, Drapht is probably the only hip hop artist that has pushed me to better my rhyming structures and flow. Given there aren’t too many other local artists I draw from, it’s inspired me more to work harder to make more conscious music to counteract the perpetuation of negative stereotypes.

So, what’s next for Early Bird MC? Are there any live shows or new material coming out that we should keep an eye out for?

There were some live shows lined up to coincide with the release of this new album but unfortunately, I have had to put them on the back burner for a little bit while my business partner and I create a local clothing manufacturing hub. I have another EP with Loftwah the beatsmith in the works. But I am stepping back for a while to focus on bigger picture life goals.

Music can only reach so far without the proper infrastructure to back it up, so for me the next six months is mostly going to be dominated with growing our business and launching a tech company idea. We have developed an app as well that has the capacity to touch billions of people. So, my direction is shifting slightly for the time being to create a larger platform to be able to touch more people all around the world with our message of love and unified energy.


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