If you thought that all Australia had to offer was wallabies and Men At Work records then you are sadly mistaken. Hip-Hop is alive and well in the world’s only country/continent. Madhatta is the Aussie Atlas, and has put the weight of an entire continent on his back and carries it with pride. Armed with his crew, 1NE World Fam, Madhatta is destined to bring the underground of the land down under to Hip-Hop’s forefront.
Where are you from?
MH: Born in Melbourne Australia, raised in Perth, and am currently residing in Armadale or Dramadale as it’s commonly called.
MH: Yeah it’s one the most poverty stricken burbs in Perth, a lot of diversity so there’s problems sometimes we’ll jus say ha-ha.
Now for those of us who didn’t pay attention in Geography class, could you explain exactly where Perth is?
MH: Um yeah actually Perth is the most isolated city in the world. Being on the west its jus us over here. The rest of Australia lives on the east coast (laughs) apart from a select crazy few who live in the outback, like Crocodile Dundee
How long have you been in the game??
MH: First off, I’d say I been in [the game] all my life. Hip-Hop always had me; even as a youngin. But I started getting active in 99 with writing and basic song structure, but didn’t fully get it or pick a mic up till 2001. That’s when I got serious wit it.
How’d you get the name Madhatta?
MH: Ha-ha-ha. Actually, it came from the old classic Alice in Wonderland. In that movie, The Mad Hatter was an entertainer that hosted tea parties. So we came up wit Mad Hatta and just changed the tea drinking for pot smokin ha-ha and that’s basically it. It was my name from my old crew (MC2) in my New Zealand days (MC2= Madhatta + Phatkat)
I remember that shit. The Cheshire Cat was my dude. Ha-ha. What ever happened to MC2?
MH: (laughs) Well we was real young and not very experienced. We meet up during a audio engineering course in 01, and basically [MC2] was the 1st shit I put out. It was wack and from day 1 our vibe wasn’t right. Like in the studio it didn’t work. Doin shows didn’t work. The final straw was when Phatkat stood me up for a show I hustled, which was a big thing back then. So after that I went solo. I took it more serious and started recording at home. So long story short, we was at different places. I was lookin to take it serious and he was jus playin round.
Although Hip-Hop is on a global stage, not too many people think of Hip-Hop when they think of Australia. What is the current state of Australian Hip-Hop?
MH: Well, we getting active actually. It’s real underground and stilly not publically accepted. It’s in the parks, in the streets. Very rarely is there a Hip-Hop act that travels here, let alone our own shows. It’s a real struggle to find support, but it is there if you’re really looking. The thing is we have a split crowd and a huge diverse population, so we have potential. We just got to change the minds of the peeps that think Hip-Hop isn’t Aussie, or that still think Aussie is only Rock when it isn’t. 09 is huge as far as Perth Hip-Hop goes. We’re getting 1000+ capacity venues and Hip-Hop workshops for kids so that the next generation won’t have this hardship. This will put Australia up there with the U. S. when you think of Hip-Hop.
How are you contributing to bring Australia to Hip-Hop’s forefront?
MH: Well actually we’re doing “The Land Down Under” DVD (consisting of 12 MCs and beat heads from East to West) which showcases the talent we do have in Australia. All independently funded and distributed. Plus I’m starting a Hip-Hop/MC workshop in my burb to teach kids song structure, hook structure, and how to perform live on stage. Basically all the aspects of emceeing. Plus we’re doing shows and hopefully touring the West in 09. It should be groundbreaking for Perth.
It must feel good being a pioneer for Perth and Aussies all over.
MH: Yeah it is a good feelin, specially cause I’m older and lookin at these dudes im recording wit and seeing out there are sorta following what we do ya dig? Like I do a in the booth video showing me spittin raw then next week there’s a heap of other dudes doin the same. Just shows me I’m doin something right.
Is “The Land Down Under” DVD a documentary or a compilation of music videos by the participants?
MH: Its a compilation of videos, freestyles, kats talkin bout their thoughts on the game and basically jus a independent look into the underground artists that are really doin something in Oz.
How will people be able to cop it?
MH: Well there’s 500 being made on the 1st round, so it’s depending on that success really. We have a bunch of shops that are gonna put us in store as well as liquor stores, so I’m hoping we move the 500 real quick so I can get some units up. Anything over 500 im happy..
A Hip-Hop workshop for the kids is a dope idea. You’re nurturing that Hip-Hop spirit in ‘em while they’re young. You know that some may think that a “Rap School” is kind of cliché. How will your workshop differ from, let’s say, a reality TV show that basically serves the same function?
MH: Well we’re starting from the beginning. There’s gonna be learning song structure and hook development as well as stage presence and media training. Wel’l be working on writing performing and all the while building up the kids a little profile or portfolio, so when and if they are ready to take it to that next level, they would have probably achieved more then the average mc by lets say 15 or 16. So in that sense they will have a great hand up on lets say me who started late, plus keeping ‘em off the streets and doing something. It’s positive all around. I cant see any negatives with it.
Appreciate you going the extra mile for the kids. You know 1LLA Funk love the kids!! You’ve proven yourself to be a true advocate of underground and
unsigned emcees across the globe by creating and mass producing the “Unsigned Hype Mixtape Series”. You funded this project and nurtured it from its infancy to the finished product. What inspired you to create a project of this magnitude?
MH: Lack of help really. I was going through hardships finding beat heads and producers to work with. No international help. Then I realized that it wasn’t just me suffering this way. So I looked into it and then…Boom! It wasn’t like I had a plan. It was more like this might work, but most likely not. Vol 1 was good for what we were working with. Vol 2 and 3 came together much easier. By Vol 4, I was swamped and could no longer handle it by myself. It was a good feeling to have peeps sending me their demos and beats on a daily basis. Showed me that I was doing something right. From the start it was really a learning curve. I learned what to do and what not to do. It gave me a lot. The contacts I still use today.
So all in all it was definitely worth doing; although it was a free handout.
What sacrifices did you have to endure to green light the UH Mixtapes?
MH: Pretty much time. I am not too patient of a person. I get an idea and I want to do it then and there ha-ha. There was a lot of back and forth with artists to get their heads right for the mixtapes and to get us all on the same page, you feel me? Basically, apart from the $$$$, its just time that I had to sacrifice. We’re ok with putting up the money for it. I have a good support team here. It was all about time and proving that I knew what I was talking bout.
I’m sure that there are quite a few artists who are grateful for the opportunity.
MH: Yeah definitely, but on that same note I’m grateful they came thru cause it def boosted my profile ya dig?
I feel you. What artists have you worked with to make the UHMS?
MH: Whoa! I worked with everyone from ILLA FUNK AND BOJEEZY,TO SKORGE DA HOODLUM, HOOD DEMOCRATS/EDDIE BARNZ,STEVIE B,HCP,,DIME,TALENTS,YOUR TUTU.TAPU SHERIFF.LIVELY, TONE THE BISHOP, SPY NATION.PRO J,KILLA CRIS, DJ G’D UP..GOLDDUST CONSTRUCTION (MY PRODUCER) and so many more. It’s hard to remember all the homies.
Are there any artists that you would like to work with?
MH: Yes. Too many to name. I’d like to do more work with the Mic Specialists. If I had a chance I’d do something with Trae from Houston. NJE, LIMERIK, KALIBA, vS.O.X are just a few Australian emcees that I’d like to holla at. I will work with whoever got hot beats or spit flames. Real down to earth people.
You are creating a movement within your music by being the voice of the voiceless. Songs like Wot A Trip Mayn and Abstract Wealth express the daily struggles that people are faced with while cuts like Ill Hype Music and 02 Mic Pass showcase your lyrical abilities. How do manage to consistently provide the listeners with such lyrical diversity?
MH: For me it comes down to the shit I see everyday. Like Wot a Trip was writing about my surroundings. The daily struggles to overcome the perils of poverty and hate that fill our society. So for me what I write comes [down] to what kind of day I had and what beat I’m spittin on. So as long as there’s struggle in this world, I’m gonna tell it like it is. Real talk.
Real talk indeed.
You represent One World Fam to the fullest. Give your fans some insight on who One World Fam is, its members, and its mission.
MH: 1ne World is an indie label I started to put peeps on who aint looking for a millie deal or whatever but just want to put out quality music for the public. So 1NE World isn’t your typical label. We aint got mad money, we just got love. Some of our artists include: Dime, HCP (Half Cast Prophet), Jesse Sinatra, Lively, Madhatta, and Golddust Construction. We have a range of affiliates also, but I’ll keep it family for now.
The 1NE World mission is to take back control of the music bizzo for the artists, producers and beat makers that put in that real blood, sweat and tears. Those who actually live this and not just talk it. Even if we have to do it one small step at a time, we’re making tracks and peeps are starting to listen and move with us.
As you know, there is a vast population of artists that are influenced by cash. How do you manage to keep your roster populated without any monetary promises?
MH: Basically we all go in knowing that we might see money, we might not. But wit the artists on 1ne they all have a common aim to get heard b4 [getting] paid. What I mean is they all sorta understand that in order to make that $$ we all have to work to the bone and give out alot of free time as well as product. Being we are in Oz, and still so infantile in our game, we all agree on a % based on what role you playin in the crew. Mc’s and beat heads and kats puttin in hard work get the most return, as opposed to more common terms where the artist gets screwed. Some might think I’m doing it the wrong way or disagree with it cause we’re not payin em yet, but each to they own. Ask any dude on 1ne they all agree that they’ll get theirs.
What other crews are you affiliated with?
MH: I’m heavily affiliated with the SOUF Movement, which will be a six month festival held and ran by artists for the fans of real Hip-Hop. The SOUF Movement will feature graffiti, dancers, and hype music from the south part of Perth. Look for me in February of 09.
Sounds like Perth will be doin it real big in 09. When does the festival commence and what role(s) will you and 1NE World play in it?
MH: February 22, 2009, A-town, Dramadale Shopping Centre Underground, As well as performing, I’ll be co-hosting and giving out prizes as well as selling merchandise after the show. Look for us.
What album(s) inspired you to become an emcee?
MH: Old School shit like Snoop’s Doggystyle. Anything. Old School Wu-Tang. That’s what really hooked me. RZA and the Wu, Dr. Dre, Old School French Hip-Hop, Supreme NTM. That’s the kind of shit that made me listen. But what really got me to take part was when Hip-Hop started getting stupid. Like in 99 there was a lot of bullshit being put out which was worse for us here in Oz cause we don’t get half the shit anyway. So we had limited dope product to bump every week. So even wack music enticed me to make something better.
That’s an interesting motivator… Wack cats that is.
MH: (laughs) Yeah I take something from everything. They inspire me to never be that.
I don’t see heads can put “1NE World” and “wack” in the same sentence. Especially with all that you cats have to offer. What projects are you currently working on?
MH: My solo release “Skool Is In Session”, the Land Down Under DVD, writing the manual for the MC Workshop that I’m doing, putting my crew on, HCP’s album, Dime’s album, etc.
What’s next for Madhatta?
MH: 09 brings paid shows, expansion of my crew, and definitely a lot more music being made. Hopefully [we’ll do] some tours and maybe a lil change to make it easier to live.
How can other artists and your fans get at you?
What advice do you have for your fellow underground artists who are trying to break into the music business?
MH: Be strong. Stay at it. When you feel like you’re fucked up and can’t do it
no more, for whatever reason, STAY AT IT! Be persistent and remember that it won’t happen overnight. Shit, it won’t even happen in a few years unless you’re really lucky. So at the end of the day, put out every joint like it’s your last or your first. Peeps forget real quick who you be, so you have to constantly be in the spotlight or doing new shit every month or so or you’re just going to fade out. Be yourself and don’t follow the trends. Do you, just do you! But the best advice I can give is to go out and cop the Madhatta “Skool Is In Session” album in early 09 cause it’s all the education you need right there.
Mad shouts to 1LLA Funk for the opportunity to spit in this interview. Mad shouts to Mic Specialist Music and mad shouts to my crew 1NE World fam. BE EZ.
If you could describe your music in one word, what would that word be?