There’s a few things you should know about Perth based MC Macshane. The dude can spit frees better than what most cats spend all week writing. He’s got flows for days and he sounds at home over any type of beat, and he is one of the hardest working cats in Hip Hop today, owning multiple stages every weekend.
Less common in the Australian scene than our American counterpart, (pre-written battles anyone?) Macshane is an Aussie MC who is mastering the craft of freestyle, and sharing it with all who are lucky enough to hear it.
First things first, what was behind you first picking up the mic?
Music has always been an integral part of my life, One part of me consists of a love for Rhythm, Rhyme and Melody, while the other half of me consists of a love for Showmanship, Performance and overusing the Imagination.
I’m personally lucky I’ve found Rapping as a medium for expression. Freestyle Rap for me is the perfect platform where i can combine these passions and an arena to continuously challenge myself.
Heads are starting to know you as a freestyle maniac, spitting rapid fire off the top. Even doing the “throw me a random object and I’ll rhyme about it” a la Supernatural style. Do you practice or is just totally in the moment?
I can’t deny that practice makes perfect (which I’m far from), I’ve personally found that Freestyling is much like “muscle memory”. If you continue to practice, the ability becomes almost subliminal.
The more you rhyme, you can develop a larger database of rhyme words that work together and more patterns to package your delivery in.
Once you are comfortable being able to keep your mouth running and not fall off beat, you can begin to focus on adding wordplay and punchlines (double entendres, puns, idioms and references) without worrying about de-railing.
Even more so, when you are confident and comfortable in being able to keep rapping – you can almost be able to “see multiple lines ahead” and use your prior rhymes to set up your punchlines well in advance for maximum effect.
Being that Freestyle is entirely improvisational, I’m at the mercy of my own abilities and external factors (the instrumental, the crowd and my surroundings) to decide what I’m going to say “in the moment”. The best I can do to prepare, is to be confident in my ability to think on the fly, to read the crowd & the surroundings and to deliver the punchline on time.
You’ve been rocking spots a lot with FDEL(SBX) can you tell us what a typical FDEL/MACSHANE set is like?
It’s a pleasure and a privilege to perform with Fdel, one of Australia’s best DJ’s and one of my best mates.
I’ve known Fdel for the last 6 years and in the last two years I’ve been MC’ing for him. We’ve played multiple festivals with each one being unique in its own right.
A typical Fdel X Macshane set will see Fdel rocking the party and bringing the vibes for the first half, the second half of the show will see me come on stage and hype the crowd up.
One of the acts I do is the classic “random object rhyme” (big up Supernatural) where the crowd will hold up whatever exotic item they have on them and I’ll take it out of their hand and rhyme about it.
For me, this is my favorite challenge as I am completely unaware as to what is going to come my way, the adrenaline rush is like no other when I have two seconds at a time to see an object, think about a rhyme, pull it out of someone’s hand, then say my rhyme, all the while thinking about the next object I’m going to pick up and so forth, juggling would be the perfect analogy.
Some more notable items I’ve had thrown my way on stage include: Someone’s prosthetic leg, someone’s “chicken fillets”, a breast pump (really), someone’s “weave”, ecstasy, weed, tampons & condoms (unused of course!) and a g-string. Be sure to keep an eye out for the next Fdel x Macshane show and get your objects ready…
Macshane has been appearing at some great shows. What’s the biggest crowd you’ve been in front of lately?
The last year for me has been personally insane, it’s seen me go from freestyling around a backyard table with 3 people, to performing original shows for 50 people, to being featured on local and commercial radio, to playing at festivals for thousands, to MC’ing with artists and international DJ’s I never could have imagined I would.
The most extravagant shows I’ve had the pleasure of being part of are the “Concept” series of gigs by the lads from “Bassment”: MC’ing for Dubstep royalty Must Die, Downlink, Trollphace, Emalkay, Skism, Laxx, Truth and Badklaat at a sold out Metro city nightclub of 3000 people. I am genuinely grateful for all the opportunities and experiences I’ve had.
Thoughts on freestyle battles in this day and age?
Freestyle Battles are healthy for the scene in the sense that it gives an arena for Rappers to display their talents, see where the competition is at and come together as a scene for the love of rap.
Written battle’s are a different league of course and are more theatrical and performance driven. Freestyle battles are a raw display of “right now”.
I recently competed in a competition called Openbars organised by a close homie (and killer rapper) called Empty.
There was an air of competition, though no one treated it as such. We all knew it was solely for the entertainment value. It was great to see everyone’s own unique flavor and technique on display, every rapper was in awe of each other and learnt something new. The sense of community between the rappers made it what it was. I would like to see more Freestyle Battle events like this in the future of this humble town.
Is the art of the freestyle cypher alive and well, or does it need a resurrection?
I can personally confirm that the cypher it is more alive than ever (at least in my circle). I rap seemingly every day with my homies Beckon, Silvertongue, Empty, Archi and Mathas.
I owe a lot of where I’m personally at as a rapper to rapping with my mates, it’s provided an arena of friendly competition and also a stage for trial and error.
This is where I do my training. Becko n is a master of flow and rhythym, Silvertongue is a master of multi syllable rhymes and punchlines, Empty is a master of alliteration and concept rhymes, Archi is the master of relatable raps that convey deeper messages and Mathas is the master of verbal imagery.
I feel that new ideas, schemes, themes and wordplay can be tried in these cyphers with no judgement held.
I personally encourage freestyle and instigate cyphers wherever I go.
I hope that I will see a “resurgence” in organised cyphers or open mic nights in the mainstream. Until then, I’ll be rapping in your ear at 5am after a club night…
I guess nowadays people understand straight rap. Are you ever freestyling and people don’t get it or don’t believe it’s all off the top?
As with anything you do there will always be the “non believers”, I’ve had this many times before and I like to play on it. I can see in the crowd who is smiling and who isn’t, for those who aren’t I’ll make a particular effort to include them in the rap by mentioning what they’re wearing, what they’re drinking or even that they’re not smiling. This is enough to break the impression that I’m reciting something and make them and their mates think “did he just mention me?“.
I’ve found a great niche in Perth because no one here is doing hip hop / grime / drum and bass / dubstep and performance freestyling all at the same time.
It’s allowed me to slot into multiple scenes at once, for example one weekend I did a Hip Hop show on Thursday, a drum and bass rave on Friday, a Dubstep show on Saturday and a freestyle jam band session on Sunday
The curse,for me, of Freestyling 24/7 is that i don’t write as much as I should, this is undoubtedly the hardest challenge to overcome and something that I’m currently working on.
Speaking of which, what about getting in the booth? Can we hear some Macshane recorded spit?
Macshane: 100%! I’ve had the revelation that to maintain a sustainable future as an artist I’ll need to have a product to put forward and the goal for 2016 will be to release some new original music.
I’m planning on a mixtape to start then an original EP to follow. I recently put down a tune for the tape called “two taps to the glass” for all the thirsty Instagrammers out there.
Thanks for the yarn mate, now I’m off to have a freestyle…
You can catch Macshane supporting Tornts on his Perth album launch 5th February at Babooshka, details here.
Aphrodite – 12th Feb
Datsik – 19th Feb
Drumsound + Bassline Smith – 27th Feb
P Money – 11th March
and stay up to date with him over on Macshane Facebook.
Words by Messy