Slackjaw is an MC that will bust a freestyle at the drop of a (hi) hat, in the car park out front of a gig, in the yard out the back of a mates while they get their hands specked with paint, Slackjaw has a love for the art that runs longs and deep. From Western Australia he was a regular in the battle circuits before there was writtens, before there was choreography, making music and not afraid to switch it up. In a geographical switch up, we were slightly surprised that Slackjaw has actually left his true love, Freo, but not surprisingly, we see him take to the underground scene of Melbourne Hip Hop with vigour and passion. We catch up with Slackjaw to discuss his music, the industry, and what the Melbourne scene can look like for someone who’s fresh off the West Coast.
Who are you, where are you from and what are you all about?
Im SLACKJAW THE RAPPER, aka SLACKJAW. I added THE RAPPER so that people don’t get me confused as something that isn’t Hip Hop, and because my birth name is CHANCE. CHANCE THE RAPPER stole my name so I’ve stolen his. I come from Fremantle, Perth City, WA. I describe my style as “Staunch Swag”, Im not hard, im not soft, im in the middle making music with a balance of both.
You’ve been active on the Perth scene for what, over a decade now? What was it like coming up in hip hop before it was as popular as it is now? Do you think it’s easier these days to “make it” as it’s more accepted to people outside of the “scene” or harder because there’s also more hip hop artists? Or none of the above!?
It was a lot of fun back then when you knew everyone and Rap in Australia hadn’t taken off yet, everyone was on the same level in cyphers and at gigs, not everyone who came to shows was trying to make a name for themselves and there was usually people breaking at shows also.
Its easy to become known quickly now but I think a lot of people blend into each other and fade quicker as well maybe due to less outside influence now that we have such a large national scene. Its definitely harder to become a top tier artist when there are so many people doing it all using the same mediums to promote their music and theres very little to distinguish between whos actually good or who has better connections in the wider music industry.
You’ve recently relocated to Melbourne, some would say it’s nearly reached pilgrimage status for Perth MCs to head east to create over there, what was the motivation behind the move and how have you found the Melbourne scene so far?
I didn’t move to Melbourne to “make it” in music but I did move here to connect with more like minded artists and individuals involved in music. Theres more venues here who cater to local artists with smaller fanbases and niche genres like Australian Hip Hop. Its been great for me as I spend a lot of time freestyling in cyphers and I’m now involved in running a weekly Open Mic session on Wednesday nights and starting to develop and maintain cypher culture with people who are into this side of Hip Hop. I’ve also met some of the most amazing beat makers I’ve ever heard here, young guys who no one has heard of so it’s been amazingly inspiring.
You recently announced you would delay releasing an album due to a loyal but ultimately limited fanbase, is it only recently you’ve started to think more about the science of the music business? I think it’s great you value you album in that way, I think a lot of seriously dope albums get lost because they are released too soon, so what’s your plans from here?
I’ve been studying the music industry here and the viability of releasing product since my first album was released in 2011, I learnt a lot from that process and it’s not a very profitable venture, even for artists that I used to look at and consider “successful”. The album game is kind of dead, it’s all about a strong online presence now with videos and consistent drops with EP’s, single tracks and now albums are definitely overlooked due to the shortened attention spans of todays audience. The plan is to continue to try and make better music videos, this is an area that I am not an expert at and it’s a fun process trying to create them with small budgets. The album which was recorded has been dropped completely and I’m now working an EP with a two man production team in a different vibe altogether.
Your recent track “Stephen Hill”, a track dedicate to Fremantle AFL player of the same name, has received a fair bit of love around the place, does the love for this bloke really run that deep, aha, and how do you feel now about Freo after their result the other week?
I am actually a huge fan of the man Stephen Hill, if you see how he goes about it he’s probably not the best player but he plays his role in the game and does his bit for the team, kind of like how I see my role in the Oz Hip Hop scene, I’m no superstar and don’t really want to be, but I get noticed for skills. After the Dockers were knocked out of the finals I stopped watching for the year. The Grand Final result was a joke.
Who’s a few artists you are feeling at the moment?
Curren$y, Schoolboy Q, ASAP Rocky, Isaiah Rashad, Harry Fraud and in Australia I am a fan of anyone who makes dope beats and rhymes from the heart. I know so many dope emcees who are unheard of so listing names would be pointless, and we all know who the big names are.
Thanks for your time, anything further you want to add?
Just don’t judge me on the first listen. I have various different styles, tracks and subject matters. Hopefully you enjoy some of it!
You can follow Slackjaw over at https://twitter.com/SLACKJAWRAPPER and on Instagram: @SLACKJAWTHERAPPER