‘Tis the season of new Australian music, and Sydney rapper and producer Rapaport has released his second studio album since his debut in 2009. Village Idiot boasts 11 tracks, each with their own unique spark and story to tell. Rapaport draws inspiration from African-American hip-hop and reggae in his work. He describes his style as Grime rather than the typical rap sound of Australian artists like Thundamentals and Hilltop Hoods.
I’ve been influenced by so many different styles of music over the past 15-20 years. A lot of it has been African, African-American, jazz, blues and that all leads into the UK scene.
In 2011, Rapaport travelled throughout the UK festival hopping. He surrounded himself in the thick of grime music and identified with the structure and musicality of the genre.
UK rap has a different rhythm. It’s kind of primary, it’s so much about the rhythm and the sound. I was attracted to the speed and the intensity and the grime and garage beats, which sort of developed from reggae.
While Village Idiot sounds like it could have come right out of the London dance scene in the 2000’s, Rapaport was determined to stray away from the lyrical style of self-absorption typically found in American and British rap.
A lot of grime music is boasting. I’m not like that. It’s all that culture of ‘I’m better than you’ and it’s quite violent, not physically, but the language.
The premiere single ‘Don’t Sweat It’ is slow and soulful, an anthem of self-realisation and acceptance that shows an emotional vulnerability that often goes unheard in grime.
In between writing and producing his own music which, he adds, is a long and tedious process, Rapaport has been directing his own record label, Big Village. Big Village is the same label that got Thundamentals to where they are now.
They were part of Big Village when we started, they’re an inspiration to me in terms of work ethic and the way they’ve built their career. I’ve been rapping with Tuka since 2004. We’ve been friends since we were both 21, fresh on the mic. They’re just amazing at resonating with an Aussie audience.
If juggling the production of an entire album and directing a record label wasn’t enough, Rapaport has also been leading School of Rap. This organisation runs hip-hop workshops in schools, community centres and prisons.
He’s run workshops with more than 3000 young people in primary and secondary schools. Rapaport says that hip-hop has been welcomed by students, teachers and parents alike:
It’s very generational. A lot of the teachers who get us in are between 30-40, they’ve grown up around hip-hop. At the same time they understand it’s grown further from gangster rap. It’s a lot more political and builds a community.
He says the excitement kids get from rhyming and singing helps to build their language skills. It also motivates him to keep his creativity alive and keep song-writing.
Rapaport’s album Village Idiot is available on iTunes and for streaming on Spotify.
You can catch him at the Factory supporting Butterfingers on their national tour at The Factory Theatre in Marrickville on April 7.