Subliminal: The come-up and the plight of the proletariat
Subliminal is an emcee, DJ, Mix Engineer, Producer & Drummer from Adelaide, SA, who has been making his own brand of gritty, thoughtful Hip Hip for over a decade. He is one half of 'Shadow Authors', one third of 'D.O.S.', and has several releases under the belt. Subliminal has also supported a swag of local and international heavy-hitters, such as Raekwon, Slick Rick, Ocean Wisdom, Fraksha, Nelson Dialect, and Social Change. So, how did Subliminal come up into music, and what is it about the plight of the working class that drove his latest release, 'Proletarian'. Subliminal chats to BEAT CONTEXT.
‘…I have memories of seeing bands as a young tacker and my Mum always said I was just fascinated by the drummer and the drum kit…’
I don’t come from a ‘musical’ family per say, but all of my family love music, so I was exposed to it as a listener from a very early age. I have memories of seeing bands as a young tacker (maybe around 3 years of age in the early nineties) and my Mum always said I was just fascinated by the drummer and the drum kit. I have memories with my great Nanna Hazel playing piano (Mary Had A Little Lamb) when I was two years old. Around the age of 3-4, I think one of her housemates owned a drum kit, and much to their dismay, I would habitually wake up around 6 am to play drums over Lenny Kravitz cranked on their stereo.
‘…a lot of my shit got confiscated…’
My cousins on both sides of family influenced me to listen to Hip-Hop, Techno and early Drum N Bass like Dillinja and break beat tunes like Prodigy – Fat Of The Land. Also I got shown Eminem, Dr. Dre, Gorillaz, Silverchair, and things like Wu-Tang which completely changed my life. At this stage I was hypnotized and consumed by the production, and probably wasn’t mature enough then to really comprehend half of what was being said lyrically. A lot of my shit got confiscated haha. From there I dubbed tapes, burned CD’s and consumed as much Hip-Hop I could get my hands on, and was periodically passed on hard Techno, Hip-Hop and Drum N Bass from my cousin Oblivious.
‘…the world has always felt out of place to me…’
Having music around this age (especially transitioning into high school) helped me make sense of the world, and maintain a sense of self-esteem whilst being slightly ostracized from the mainstream kids at school. I never had too much problem at school or anything, and was always academic but I always found myself being alot different from others. The world has always felt out of place to me, and with the exception of my close ones, I always rejected the world I guess. Music gave me a way of tapping into information, philosphies and many other things early in life}. It was almost like I felt that I was vibrating on a higher level because of the music I listened to, or it helped strengthen me every day, or more simply put; it helped with my mental well-being on the daily basis as a young person.
My involvement with music was largely because of surrounding myself with good people/mentors, and I found myself doing Hip-Hop within Extension Studies in year 12 and recorded my first ever demo in High School with a dodgy as rig. (My mentors were) everybody from my music teacher, to my drum teacher, to my cousins and family members. My cousin Ache dropped a demo in the mid 2000's and that installed to me early Australian Hip-Hop and independent music hustle. They mainly installed me information and wisdom really, spanning across many different things, which is kinda hard to put into words.
‘…. I’m lucky to call all those people family to this day, and my involvement in music can be largely attributed to having dope peers to always compete with, inspire me, lift me up and to motivate me to work…’
Around that time I started going to local Hip-Hop shows and formed my first crew with 7 other young heads like me and also the early formation of Subliminal & Dienamix happened around this time. I’m lucky to call all those people family to this day, and my involvement in music can be largely attributed to having dope peers to always compete with, inspire me, lift me up and to motivate me to work. People like Chapta always pushed me to freestyle on a higher level.
‘….I try and use all interactions with the world as a way to know myself better…’
The people that helped and assisted my musical journey also installed me with many life lessons, morals, (such as) integrity, wisdom, honesty, quality over quantity, equality, justice. Also music etiquette and knowledge, from basic things like technique to business aspects, to spirituality and philosophies of music. I'm not a religious person by any means, and dislike religion in general. That being said, I take parts of all philosophy, from Ancient Greek to newer age philosophy, quantum physics etc. I take wisdom and knowledge from many different sources whether its Buddhist teaching, Native American rituals and Shamanism to talking on the mindset of a homeless man on the street. I take it all on and find my truths through what resonates with me. I try and use all interactions with the world as a way to know myself better, which is kind of at the bottom of most spirituality and religion. Knowledge of self, and self-love.
The plight of the proletariat
‘…I felt as though I was carrying multi-generational labour with me when I has writing this project…’
Initially the project (‘Proletarian’ mixtape) was born out of working in a factory for the first time. All I wanted to do was music, so I'd cram as much writing throughout the day as possible to alleviate the sense of impending doom, soul sucking shit house work I was doing. It was never a concept till many years later once I'd figured out I had a dozen or so tracks. Through that time I had a colourful work history and the pain of working a mundane job just drove me harder to write. The content of the songs sometimes reflect that mentality, sometimes I was just happy to be creating and that made the content lighter.
‘…both of them experienced extreme financial hardships due to circumstances out of their control, even though they've busted their arse their whole life…’
My grandpa has worked really hard all his life, and originated migrated to Australia from one of the poorest parts in East Belfast. My Dad has also worked hard. Both of them experienced extreme financial hardships due to circumstances out of their control, even though they've busted their arse their whole life. The rest of my family has always struggled as well. Certain realisations about the world, banking etc, made me sour about the pyramid style shape of most businesses/the world. I've always found myself anti-establishment for that and many other reasons. The people in the trenches, the people that carry the weight of a company that squeezes the bone marrow and wealth out of their sweat and hard work, are the real heroes in this world. I felt as though I was carrying multi-generational labour with me when I has writing this project.
‘…it came to the conclusion once I'd finally transitioned into work that was more nourishing for my soul and gave me a replenished perspective and drive to finish the project…’
The journey of writing this project spanned across about 6 different jobs, 7 years and was in limbo for a while. Some of the tracks are dated, but I culled at least a dozen songs to get to the ones I have. It came to the conclusion once I'd finally transitioned into work that was more nourishing for my soul and gave me a replenished perspective and drive to finish the project. Working with music, and youth has been a game changer for me, and made me realise the massive effect that work life has on the rest of our lives and well-being.