by Bevan Jee
Overview of Australia
The hip-hop scene in Australia is in a building stage. There
is a lot of talent but people need direction. The aerosol art
scene here is booming... one of our strong points! In all major
cities there are prominent writers doing well for hip-hop but if
the culture as a whole is to survive in Australia interstate
connections need to be networked and improved. More importantly a
live local hip-hop scene needs to be established to create a
Brisbane is one of the three major cities on the east coast,
the others being Sydney and Melbourne. Hip-Hop in Brisbane was
established in the early 80's, there were people living the
culture but only a group of those rode it into the 90's.
Towering Inferno: Blowin' Up
The name Towering Inferno seems appropriate given the way
the group blew up when they first entered the local hip-hop
scene. "Fire is a symbol of hip-hop, if you can't cut it you get
burnt" say's Damage the group's DJ.
It's a Wednesday afternoon and I'm finally sitting in my
room with DJ Damage and Lazy Grey as they share thoughts on
Towering Inferno and the current state of hip-hop in Australia
(trying to get the two current members of Towering Inferno
together is like getting blood out of a rock).
The members of the crew Towering Inferno met at Burnt Toast,
a jazz/funk/hip-hop nite club run by locals Hams and Felicite in
Brisbane's Fortitude Valley. They discussed hooking up and giving
Brisbane some live hip-hop flavour. Members of the crew were
Lazy Grey, B-Boy Flex and DJ Damage.
Towering Infereno at Bomb Australia's B-Boy Kingdom, Febuary 1996
Lazy Grey has had an extensive background as an MC from the
late 80's, as well as being a prominent figure in the hip-hop
community. DJ Damage started breakdancing in 83' to electro and
then in the late 80's he started collecting records. B-Boy Flex a
writer, breaker, MC, DJ, I guess just all round B-Boy, joined the
crew as an MC.
The group then went on to get props on a national level as
they ripped shows with several interstate acts such as Def Wish
Cast (Sydney) and also representatives from Finger Licking Good
(Adelaide) and Brethren (Sydney) . But B-Boy Flex, left the group
to go back to his home town of Melbourne.
"750 clique is my group of supporters from my home town
Algester, the south side, my neighbourhood", says Lazy Grey (the
significance of 750 being the volume in ml in a longneck bottle
of beer in Australia)
"I have much respect for groups like Digable Planets and
Beatnuts who take really jazzy sounds and make them sound so
funky, I also have respect for KRS-1, Afrika Bambatta, George
Clinton, James Brown and DJ's Scratch and Cashmoney" says Damage.
Damage lists' the key components of his studio as the ASR-10
keyboard sampler, the 808 drum machine and the 1200's. He refuses
to lists' any influences, rather states that "everything I have
ever listened to has influenced me, I try to be open minded on
music, but focused in hip-hop".
What does Towering Inferno sound like? Heaps of beats and
cuts, real b-boy shit. "People are forgetting the real origins
of hip-hop and what first set it apart from other styles of
music, were just brining that back" comments Lazy Grey. The crew
is all about respect and paying dues, doing something that is
real. At many occasions they have performed at clubs, with the
only pay being the satisfaction of moving the crowd and doing
something positive for hip-hop.
No hip-hop vinyl or cd's have come out of Brisbane, but the
first vinyl project that the crew is connected with is Blunted
Stylus, which is an album full of phat beats, cuts and
instrumental shit to drive you insane. It is being arranged by DJ
Jigsaw (also out of Algester), who started the hip-hop radio show
in Brisbane in about 1983.
People are waiting for the bomb to drop from this crew and a
solid underground hip-hop album on vinyl is the group's long term
goal. Towering Inferno is the next shit out of Australia, and
hopefully their dreams of a career in music will be granted and
they will move into 96.