Raven: friendship, evolution and love for the art form
Raven is an emcee and producer from Melbourne, Victoria. He is an emcee's emcee, meaning that coming original and authentic, elevating the craft, and not wasting a word are all part of the package. Raven has released two solo albums, a collaborative album with Myk Reid, and a collaborative album with Budsa as part of Lost Soulz. Raven has been part of the Hungry Humans crew and the Crate Cartel, banding with artists who pride themselves on creativity and individual style. He makes that no BS, raw Hip Hop. Having taken a hiatus to focus on real life outside of music, Raven is now back, and on the cusp of releasing his third solo album, 'The Mirror'. So what has Raven been up to in the intervening years, and how has being a parent changed him and his approach to music? Raven talks to BEAT CONTEXT.
‘…it was all about friends…’
…In the beginning (as with many other artists) it was all about friends and I guess that hasn’t really changed. The big difference now is that I am a lot more of a homebody and don’t hang out with mates like I used to so my influence is more internal than it once was. I do have to give a shout out to my homeboy Myk Reid though because if it weren’t for him roping me into projects, I wouldn’t have done any music since 2010. Old mate still keeps me on my toes, and I need that…As an emcee, Myk, myself and another mate we went to school with formed a year 8 hardcore rap crew called 3 Of A Kind (circa 1996). We wrote and recorded a track called This Is How We Chill over the ultra-smooth beat for the Luniz track ‘Playa Hata’ We had been thrashing them golden age West Coast joints and it just seemed fitting that 3 puny kids from the Melbourne suburbs became gangsta rappers.
‘…I sample less these days but am still primarily a pure head of the Hip Hop culture…’
With beats, I had been rhyming over jacked beats and those produced by Aetcix for years before I decided I would give it a go myself. I love the idea of creating something yourself and I also loved the art of sampling from a young age. I was schooled by the likes of Aetcix and Jolz in this artform and slowly but surely built a record collection that had some nuggets in it. I sample less these days but am still primarily a pure head of the Hip Hop culture…Music is such an enriching and cultural thing and has given me a purpose, goals, travel, pride, satisfaction… and very small amounts of money. Honestly though the biggest thing is friendship. I have made more mates from music than anything else in life…
The evolution of Raven
’…it was all about the show and prove…’
In the early days it was all about the show and prove. On my first few releases I was flexing every damn multisyllabic muscle I had to the point I couldn’t even breath in between lines. This of course made live shows quite arduous. The content was always second to the skills because that’s what I thought people wanted to hear but that being said I never was a one trick pony and always tried to vary up the concepts of my tracks even back then. My second solo album Ravenous 20Ten was a more focussed release. I was reading a lot of left-wing books by Authors like Naomi Klein & Noam Chomsky and listening to as much dystopian paranoid music as I could squeeze into my angry little brain. This was an important period for me as it felt like my spiritual awakening, and it all came crashing down on the listener on R20Ten.
‘…some of this comes from becoming a father and feeling like I didn’t want my kids to see me angry at the world, but mostly it stems from the massive priority shift that parenthood brings…’
Since R20Ten I have gone through many phases. From being jaded, not giving a fuck and feeling like quitting to inspired binge production sessions that have lasted weeks. Some of this comes from becoming a father and feeling like I didn’t want my kids to see me angry at the world but mostly it stems from the massive priority shift that parenthood brings. I went from having my focus split 50/50 between my music and my relationships to when I became Dad something more like 20/80. It eases off over time and some people can adapt quite well but I have poured everything I have into parenthood and only now after 3 kids and 7 years I can finally start to swing things in the other direction again... My new album is a concoction of the old, middle and new me summed up in 45 minutes of calculated meticulous execution…. Or maybe I just say whatever comes to mind at the time?!
‘…I would never want my kids to be like I was back then…’
…To this day a lot of my content is inspired by things I did as a teenager and young adult. You know, those years when Hip Hop was just cool as fuck and smoking weed was even cooler and backyard parties (followed by clubs) were what life was all about? I just had a great time…Looking back now I would never want my kids to be like I was back then, but it makes for some good rap content. That’s the crux of it really, my life with kids is not that interesting and doesn’t get the creative juices flowing as much but I still have moments when I need to vent about grown man business on a track. I also DO NOT go out to gigs anymore…at all. I still love the music and keep an eye on what’s going on but just differently to how I used to.
‘…it all helps to keep me engaged and grounded…’
As far as interests go, aside from rap I brew my own beer, play Futsal (Indoor Soccer) twice a week, binge watch dope series’ and along with my wife maintain a veggie patch from which I create delicious pickles and anti-pasto. Not sure how much of that finds its way into my lyrics but it all helps to keep me engaged and grounded.
Love for the art form
‘…I still get chills…’
It started with a love for phat bass drums and rebellious lyrics and grew into a love for the art forms of lyricism and production. As a fan I still get chills when I hear a well-crafted beat that sounds like nothing I have heard before and I get this from Hip Hop more than any other style of music...I also think that the art form of lyricism is seriously misunderstood and under appreciated, which is why there has been a slip of late in the type of ‘rap’ that is popular. The effort needed to write a really well thought out verse can be either a gruelling process of well thought out metaphors and content, or it could just flow from the heavens without a minute to ponder where it comes from. I love this.
‘…style is a crucial part of music and I think that
working with artists like Geko, Flu and Discourse
who have always strived to be unique has
kept me driving towards crafting my own “sound” as well…’
Aetcix was a major influence on me when I was young. Not only was he a mate but he was (still is) a phenomenal emcee and producer with one of the most unique styles. Style is a crucial part of music and I think that working with artists like Geko, Flu and Discourse who have always strived to be unique has kept me driving towards crafting my own “sound” as well. On a more global scale I was massively influenced to be a better lyricist by emcees like Pharoahe Monch, Qwel, Big Pun, Elzhi, One-be-Lo, Jehst, Klashnekoff and many others. For me though, Black Thought is the GOAT. The dude never ceases to amaze me and has been (IMO) the most consistently dope rapper on the planet for decades. Salute King Tariq!
word to the wise
Travel, love, socialise, eat well and enjoy the best parts of life FIRST. Work is work and needs to be done but it is what you spend your time doing outside of the daily grind that will truly define who you are in life. I don’t have a lot of regrets.
Raven kindly provided BEAT CONTEXT with an unreleased drop from 'The Mirror'. Enjoy!
Raven’s third solo album ‘The Mirror’ will be released via Darkwing Productions on all digital platforms on April 29th. You can order the album on vinyl HERE. 'The Mirror' album launch is on July 6th, 2019 at Horse Bazaar, Melbourne.