Hip Hop Headquarters sits down with Melbourne, Australia rapper Ezra Allen
What made you decide to become a rapper?
I actually wasn’t into hip-hop until I was 18, I was a writer who wrote short pieces, fictional or fiction based on reality. I graduated highschool and started volunteering at a radio station and I met ‘Hudson’ who was the Executive Producer of ‘Hip-Hop Night’ and for 3 hours a week I was surrounded by Hip-Hop heads so I was exposed through that and started to listen a bit to 80’s/90’s hip-hop. Once I started listening to some more modern stuff I started to notice that they were just saying what I was writing down in my pieces and started to transpose my pieces into rhymes.
What’s the first rap song you ever heard? Describe the moment.
I couldn’t even tell you, it would probably be Cleaning Out My Closet, that’s my earliest memory of listening when I was maybe 12, I can probably recite it still but I didn’t really follow it up with much more hip-hop. The song that actually kind of dragged me into hip-hop was Jhene Aiko – Bed Peace ft Childish Gambino, Hudson played it in the car in an attempt to really get me into hip-hop and once Bino started I was hooked, just the cadence and lyricism had me enthralled and I had that on repeat for weeks learning the lyrics, understanding each line. I go back to it every time I write just to make something that gives me the same feeling I get from that.
How did “Free” come together?
Free was the second song I ever wrote to completion, I wrote basic lines down every now and then and the first song I wrote just didn’t flow. I didn’t really have any idea what I was doing, how to get beats or know any producers. Love Yourself – Justin Bieber, had been charting and I resonated with the concept of the song as some of my earliest writing was from a crush I had in highschool that just kind of used my feelings as leverage. I cut up Love Yourself and rapped over it and sent it to a friend, who liked the raw emotion of it and then I let it sit in my computer for another year. After a while I got a bit more experienced on how to get beats and started to talk to a french producer ‘Rippers Records’ and after trying a few of his beats he thought my vibe was too chill to be on the harder beats and gave me his beat ‘Red Room’ and I couldn’t fit any of my lyrics on it until I rediscovered my Love Yourself Remix and reapplied on the beat with touch ups and spent a couple of months thinking up a hook and vocal effects and then decided it would be my first official single.
What are your predictions for the rest of the year musically and politically across the world?
I think we are going to see some great music coming out this year and the next with the world in such a terrible political climate. You have Brexit, Trump and down here in Australia we are having terrible issues with very blatant prejudice from very public figures and politicians, I think when the world is at it’s worst you get the best art from all artists be it music, painting, literature. Aside from that we have had incredible albums already out and that breeds healthy competition to beat them, genres are becoming more loose and you seeing great mixes between them. I think the political climate is going to get a lot worse before it gets better, I think we will begin to see more and more public displays of prejudice across the globe but I think this will bring people together.
What do you think the old school can learn from the new school and vice versa?
I think the old school needs to start embracing new change in the genre, I’m not a fan of ‘mumble rap’ sonically but I think that change is good and if people are enjoying it and it’s not hurting anybody let it grow, Hip-Hop is so prone to evolution compared to other genres, you see new variations to it every couple of years and that is what keeps it so relevant, that’s why you see it charting in every country and why it dominates the clubs. I think the Old School will always be the foundation, if you want to learn how to flow listen to Raekwon, De la Soul, Beastie Boys, Biggie, If you want to know how to write listen to Public Enemy, Tupac, Big L, Tribe, if you want to learn how to produce listen to , Dr Dre, Dilla, Pete rock, If you are an aspiring rapper or producer look at the foundation of your art form because it’s like a step by step guide to how to make music now. They worked with record players and samplers no computers, lyrics on paper with a dictionary and a thesaurus, if you can operate like they did and build from that to your own style you will find yourself creating some great music.