A lot of people have that, “can’t knock the hustle” feeling towards this Campbelltown MC. Born and raised in Sydney’s South West, Kerser has gained notoriety through street hustle, battle rap and just general don’t give a fuck attitude. But for someone with that attitude, he is increasingly excited by the industry success he’s achieving, and doesn’t shy away from big claims such as being “King”. Having reached the number one spot in iTunes this morning with the official release of “KING”, Sarah Connor chatted with Kerser to find out what exactly “King Kers” is ruling over and what we can expect from his fourth album in four years.
Let’s get this out of the way, your album is called “King”, what do you say you’re the King of exactly?
I’d say I am the King of Australian Street Rap. I think I’m the first one – the reason I can claim it is because I’m the first one to make a living off it, buy a house and a car and everything without help from the radio, or the tv, or taking the usual blue print that any other artist has taken before. I am the first to do it my way. In that sense, I’m a King.
Sometimes you rap about how you haven’t had support in your music, what support have you actually had?
First off I’ve had Nebs. I was recording at a studio in the city years again, when I was about 18 and I handed a mixtape of mine to Nebs at a gig of his. Then he said lets do an album together. So he really kicked the professional side off. Also my older brother Rates and Jay UF for always having my back. And industry people- its Obese Records. They were the first to distribute my stuff. So yeah, Obese records and Pegz at Obese.
Have Obese ever tried to sign you?
I’m actually in a distro deal with Obese now and a management agreement with an employee at Obese. It’s kind of a strange situation. I am not a signed Obese artist but someone from their work manages me.
“Underground” is probably my favourite track off the album and I think Nebs has sampled another Aussie artist Ben Lee “Cigarettes will kill you”. Do you look to other genres for inspiration or influence when building your craft?
Yeah I definitely do. I listen to heaps chilled stuff and I listen to some rock like Pete Murray and Powderfinger – you know that soft chilled rock. Then I listen to Drake and some moody style music and then I’ll go to Tupac, Nas, Biggie. I am into a bit of everything.
What’s your proudest moment on the album?
Me and Nebs were both going through a rough time while doing the album- just in our personal life. So just to both pull through and just get the album complete and ready in time without any hiccups and not letting personal life problems get in the way of getting the album done.
How does it feel topping ARIA charts and are you expecting this one to come in number one?
I am hoping.. hoping. I think on iTunes I will take definitely number one. The ARIA charts I am hoping for a number one. It depends on what else is released that week I suppose. I think if no other artists are released that week I would guarantee I would get a number one. I am not expecting it but if it happens I would be over the moon.
What does it mean getting official industry recognition to you?
That means the world to me but in a way it doesn’t. Because the industry from my point of view has always ignored me and now its like “why are you interested now” type thing? But the more mature side of me sees it as, they have caught onto the story.
What do you mean by the story?
They caught on to the whole movement that happened from nothing. Writing raps in a townhouse in Campbelltown. Putting a clip on Youtube and getting 40 million youtube views. Starting from how I started from and getting to where I am at, the industry is starting to realise I am a force to be reckoned with.
Just following on from what you’re saying about Youtube views. Checking the stats why do you think Youtube has worked for you more so than other artists. Particularly when other artists have expensive clips?
I don’t know why it’s worked for me. I think its because I had my facebook running at the same time and that gained a lot of popularity. And I was doing some controversial posts and what not. I would definitely say consistency. There was a point when I was uploading one promo a month with a clip at the time of working on these four albums. So I think consistency and word of mouth amongst schoolers and kids sitting around having a sesh or doing whatever they do and they see it on youtube. I think people here, when they hear for example Bliss n Eso or Hilltop Hoods on the radio- you’d think they’d jump on Youtube and look at the clip. But I dunno, I can’t answer why my views are more than other artists.
You’ve been able to break through virtually with no radio play. Why do you think this alternative approach has worked for you?
I think because I am being real. And again the Youtube and social networking outlet has really helped. And I think the whole battling and people seeing my face so much on youtube and whats the word, Charisma? I think that drew a lot of people today. In the age of today I think the radio is getting less and less relevant. Because if you jump in your car or your mates car the first, 9 out of 10 are putting an iPod attachment in and listening to either youtube or whats on their playlist. So I don’t think radio plays is a massive part of making it these days to tell you the truth hey.
You featured in an article in the SMH earlier this year where you said you felt you were not able to relate to earlier Australian hip hop music, saying “my music isn’t like the usual Aussie hip hop you hear. When I was growing up I thought [that music] was all BBQs going to the RSL and maybe some politics but I couldn’t really relate to any of it.” Who were you listening to that made you feel that way?
I couldn’t tell you particular artists but I’d say it was the Aussie hip hop I heard. If I ever heard Aussie hip hop it all sounded the same to me. I might be wrong yeah, looking back into it there were artists doing other shit but what I was hearing at that time was the same people rapping about the BBQs or the RSL or the typical Aussie thing. I never really heard anything I could relate to about the people or the struggle, or anything like that, family domestics, violence. I couldn’t just relate to any of it.
Did you want to break away from that?
Yeah, thats why Nebs worked so well. I told him my idea and he pretty much had the same idea. Thats why with the Nebuliser we deliberately made every beat electro – just to say its a new sound you don’t have to do that BBQ sound. Then the next album “ No Rest” we threw in the Hip Hop to say we’re doing that too. By Hip Hop I mean Boom Bap beats and that as well.
You did an interview on Studio Ten this year where you were asked to speak about raps sexist lyrics in response to Snoop Dogg. You articulated yourself quite well on that show. But do you ever feel that folks underestimate you or write you off because you’re a rapper?!
Yeah I do and I think my appearance to. They look at me and think – this skinny guy covered in tats with tats on his face. I think they look at me and think I am heaps stupid or something. Then they listen to my music or the subjects I am talking about and they think “oh what a dip shit”. Then they meet me and see I am well spoken and well presented. And I think that was the case with Studio Ten. They expected a real dumb fuck to walk out and be stuttered by their questions and when I think I rebutted most of their questions back on them that opened a lot of peoples eyes.
You were asked a lot about misogynistic lyrics on that show. What about your track “Ctown”- there’s references to bitches, telling people to go pour you a drink, and suggestions of sharing women amongst your crew- truth or fiction?
That’s truth in Campbelltown and I think thats truth in a lot of places in Australia and thats the party side and again thats the side of Australia that 75% of Australia don’t know of, and that stuff does go on and that track was more in a party mode of what happens at parties in Campbelltown and probably a lot of other suburbs around there.
Whats you’re vision specifically then for the role of women in the Hip Hop industry?
Well I’ve got a female manager and she’s a massive part in pushing my success. So personally I respect women to the fullest. I’ve got a girlfriend of 9 years now and those references are not meant to be taken out of context, or pointed at a particularly person. It’s like you’re chilling with the boys or talking amongst the boys, like yeah they’re a great group of bitches or whatever. We’re not saying it in an offensive way. There’s a lot of from what I’ve heard – there’s a lot of good female MC’s and tour management. So there’s definitely a strong role in Australian Hip Hop for females I reckon.
Are you planning another DVD of your tour?
I haven’t really discussed it yet but most likely yeah. Every DVD I do from now- for eg No Rest – was the live show. The second one, was behind the scenes. So if I did do another one I would want to do it different again. I would have to brainstorm on that one and if I thought of something that was up to standard for the DVD then yeah.
Anything else you want to say?
Albums out Nov 14th. The tour will be through January and February and there is some big things planned for next year.
Any hints of spoilers?
I don’t know what I can say or not. Lets just say battle rap might get a bit bigger.
Thanks for that chat mate.
Feature Image of Kerser by Steven Guzman
KERSER /// KING 2015 TOUR
Sat 24 Jan – Hi Fi Melbourne, VIC
Sat 24 Jan /// Hi Fi Melbourne, VIC
Sun 25 Jan /// Hi Fi Sydney, NSW
Sat 31 Jan /// Hi Fi Brisbane, QLD
Sat 31 Jan /// Hi Fi Brisbane, QLD
Fri 6 Feb /// Metropolis Fremantle, WA
Fri 7 Feb /// Metropolis Fremantle, WA
Sat 21 Feb /// Fowlers Adelaide, WA
Sat 21 Feb /// Fowlers Adelaide, WA