Social Change: friends, family, unconditional love and rebellion
Updated: Aug 18, 2018
Adelaide MC Social Change is one half of the Hip Hop duo also named 'Social Change', alongside producer Funkwig. They have gigged around Australia for over two decades (you read right), supporting too many high profile acts to mention, and fostering numerous artists who have gone on to do big things (Nelson Dialect, One Above). Social Change have been on the cutting edge of Hip Hop music in Australia for a long time. When I first saw them live in the early 2000s they were ahead of the game, and ever since then the scrunch face that I make while listening to their music has never faded. The thing is, a few online singles withstanding, they have been tragically underrepresented on record for the last decade. 2018, I am told, is when this work starts coming to fruition. So how do they stay in this, and where does all this music come from? MC Social Change speaks to BEAT CONTEXT.
Friends and family are the heart of the art
‘…it made an impression on me that he was someone people listened to; that he had an important voice…’
When I was young my Dad played bass guitar in various rock n roll groups and I often tagged along to rehearsals and was brought along to the occasional show. There is an old photo of my dad playing on the back of the truck that stuck in my mind. It made an impression on me that he was someone people listened to; that he had an important voice. He was empowered. Seeing my dad like that made me believe that I could do the same.
My mom really liked playing music around the house and would make a point of putting on Saturday Night Jukebox and pointing out all her favourite songs. Later on she would encourage me to watch RAGE and things like that. Mum’s enthusiasm drew me to certain songs. She drew me to the storyline, to the artistry, to the depth of the song, and showed me that music is amazing.
‘…I noticed the rebellion in the music and
that inspired the rebellious side of me…’
My parents listened to a lot of rock n roll. I noticed the rebellion in the music and that inspired the rebellious side of me. As I got older they both supported my taste in Hip Hop and purchased a lot of music for me to listen to. My Dad was also a screen printer and my mum was a language teacher. You could say Dad gave me the rhythm and art and mum gave me the lyrics and smarts. Shoutouts to mum and dad.
‘…you don’t leave anybody behind…’
Both my grandmothers and grandfathers were probably my biggest life role models. They were just absolutely exemplary people. They shaped me as a person, particularly in regard to being loyal, which is a value I carry into my music. My mum told me a story about my nonno how in WW2 he was under attack one day and his best mate got shot. His best mate told him to go without him but nonno wouldn’t. He put him on his shoulder and carried him for two weeks. They got caught and held in a POW camp until they were eventually released, but they both lived on after the war. Years later when they were reunited in Australia, nonno’s friend burst into tears out of gratitude for being saved. Knowing this story made a big impression on my life. The idea that ‘you don’t leave anybody behind’ stuck with me.
My older cousin Maria was also a big influence. She was always a ‘cool hunter’: she found the cool shit. She knew all the lyrics to Michael Jackson songs and she had breakers at her birthday party when I was four years’ old.
Then as a teenager she was running ‘Rock n Roll High School’ on MMM (now 3D radio). This not only introduced me to a lot of music outside of hip hop but it made me want to be on the radio. She put me on to a lot of stuff.
‘…Funkwig was the one who
introduced me to Hip Hop
as a whole culture…’
My biggest influence in the realm of Hip Hop is my best friend and producer Funkwig… Before meeting Funkwig I would watch breakdance movies and was intrigued by rapping whenever I heard it. I even joked with a friend at school that it would be cool to able to speak in rhyme, and we tried haha. But Funkwig was the one who introduced me to Hip Hop as a whole culture and from then on our friendship has been largely based around our interest for listening to and creating Hip Hop together.
I told Funkwig on the first day we met in 1990 that we were going to be in a band together. He was cool and said crazy shit, which made an impression on me. I felt that we had the same enthusiasm for music and yet I didn’t know what role I was going to play in the band… I was already running around the school yard mouthing off NWA lyrics. At this time I started to realise this was something I liked enough to want to do myself.
Unconditional dedication and love for the music, craft and art
‘…in the end I am going to get it done…’
Regardless of any or all obstacles in this music business I have never felt detracted from it. I am putting my life into it unconditionally and in the end I am going to get it done. I never lost enthusiasm, which I feel blessed for, and I attribute that to all the great people who have inspired and pushed me along the way.
I personally try to have that ‘no quit’ attitude with everything I do in life. But this of course also has its downside. I can easily push myself too hard. Something that people may not know is I often have too little sleep and have had some near accidents on tour and whilst driving home exhausted from studio sessions. I’ve overtaken another car on a freeway while micro-sleeping during a tour leg. Funkwig woke me up in time for me to keep control of our vehicle. Thank you brother. And on another occasion after a long studio session I drove across the median strip onto the other side of Greenhill Road whilst asleep behind the wheel. Somehow the car went in between trees and signs and there was no oncoming traffic. It goes without saying that I have had to learn to slow down and take rest on occasion.
‘…I notice the design principles that
run through art, music and life itself…’
I suppose I am a deep thinker. I write lyrics when I’m inspired to write them, I’ve learned to know what that feels like. As a graphic designer by day I notice the design principles that run through art, music and life itself. I try to pay attention to these design principles in the written words too. For example the concept of contrast, harmony and point of interest are all design attributes that are present in both visual and musical creation.
I do my best work when I’m feeling positive and most clear minded about things. Yet in turn the process of writing itself helps me feel positive and clear minded. In a clear minded state one can see multiple points of views and this can create art that has multiple readings for the listener or viewer. I try to regularly write without ever forcing myself to write. However I like the challenge of needing to write something on the spot if need be. I find inspiration in discovering the truths of life and then the best way to convey them. My favourite artists have always had strong concepts grounded in a truth or principle that they have also executed perfectly. Take King T saying “Don’t put a hoe before the homie” as an example. You could try write that a million other ways and yet King T already said it in the coolest way. I’m inspired by that type of writing. I want to say something that needs to be said and say it the best way it could be said.
‘…our addiction to emceeing and producing has
helped us overcome all the things most people quit over…’
Social Change as a group is really just two friends who love the craft and do it everyday with the aim of constant improvement in what we create. This has never been a short period of enthusiasm that some people have where they create music with their mates until friendships break up or they feel their music failed to meet their expectations and they move on in life. I would say our addiction to emceeing and producing has helped us overcome all the things most people quit over, and we have carried on without loss of enthusiasm. I am just as interested today in writing a good rhyme as I was when I first started at age 9. I still enjoy the challenge of doing the most I can with the lyrics. As a designer I appreciate establishing the parameters of a job and then really working out how to maximise what I do within those parameters. I see rap like that. What can I do within these bars? That’s the challenge every time. Do it right and it never gets tired.
The Pursuit of Greatness
‘…I am super inspired by those who stay on top of their game…’
I’ve always considered myself a fan first. I tend to view the artists I love as almost super human in their creative abilities. I am accepting of the common human conditions we all face though so I am not disappointed if ever an artist does not stay at their creative peak or if meeting them in person doesn’t meet expectations. I try not to have expectations but I do like to be pleasantly surprised, and I am super inspired by those who stay on top of their game. I am in pursuit of that type of greatness.
‘…the soldier trains in the barracks…’
I simply hope that I can meaningfully contribute to this Hip Hop canon. I am so thankful to have done what I have done with music thus far but I still want to do so much more. We released an EP in 1998, another in 2008 and now in 2018 we are finally set to start releasing albums. I am very attached to seeing all the music I have worked on be released. Funkwig too. The soldier trains in the barracks with the purpose of using those skills when the time comes. The artist paints in the studio to ultimately exhibit in a gallery. These things go hand in hand, and we know this, yet we have probably not released as much music as we would have liked up to this point because of our drive to just keep creating.
Some people even worry about how it may now be received in the current music climate. But remember, Hip Hop doesn’t give a fuck about how it is received. It does it’s thing anyways. So by continuing the mission and telling our story we hope to not only inspire people to do what they love, but to also encourage them to never give up. And by pushing ahead regardless of all setbacks we have the chance to show that there are no limits to this Hip Hop shit. Hip Hop transcends age so long as the artist is doing the right thing at the right moment, for themselves and for the music they make. Some people think it has all been done, but those people haven’t heard what we have to contribute yet.
‘…I wanted to prove her wrong…’
When I was in school, my music teacher told me that I wasn’t good enough to be in the choir or the school band. I suppose I had all the enthusiasm but not whatever she was looking for. That person lit a fire in me that day. I wanted to prove her wrong, and show that I could do it, and to show that I’m gonna be the one who says ‘fuck you’ at the end. At that moment she clarified what I wanted to do: make rebellious music and get away from music of conformity. That’s when I lost interest in formal music as such and I became obsessed with Hip Hop.
‘…Hip Hop is different…’
I see Hip Hop as more than a music genre. Hip Hop is different because it was born out of all other genres, it reflects all other genres by sampling them, and yet it is it’s own culture and phenomenon. Through Hip Hop and the music it samples one can come to a deeper appreciation all other forms of music, and through rap lyrics one can discover things about themselves and the people and world around them, maybe even the universe too. Through the collective consciousness of rap one can learn about their own consciousness.
‘…Hip Hop informs the mainstream and then
rebels against itself…’
To me Hip Hop has always been the movement of ‘cool’. Cool is always moving. Cool can be new ground, but some things will always be cool because they are the truth. People can always remix those truths in fresh new ways. It all comes down to doing or saying the right thing at the right time. Thats what Hip Hop is to me. If there is a cool break on your record, it’s getting sampled. If there is some cool shit you should know, well a rapper probably said it already. Hip Hop finds what’s cool and defines the rules. Hip Hop is the person who stands up and says “hey I already know this is cool, I’m not waiting for someone to tell me it is”. it doesn’t try to cater to the mainstream. Hip Hop informs the mainstream and then rebels against itself right before it is imitated ad infinitum. Hip Hop is steeped in rebellion. It is the movement against the homogeny of the mainstream. Hip Hop will tell you what you need to know before you knew you needed to know it. It stays on the cutting edge forever.
EDIT: Social Change are now launching their EP 'Coming Through', along with Planetself, on June 2 2018 at The Jade, Adelaide, SA.