Old School Boom Bap
from Sydney, is a Fijian Australian vocalist, and hip-hop activist. She was nominated as one of Sydney’s Top 10 Creative Innovators in the field of music and is a member of ARIA nominated band, Foreign Heights.
allegedly the first person to diss Pauline Hanson in music!
Another prominent Pacific Islander Australian MC is Fijian “femcee” Trey, one of a growing number of women rappers on the Sydney scene. In a sequence from Basic equipment, Paul Fenech’s 1997 documentary about Sydney hip hop, Trey described the four elements of hip hop as modern extensions of analagous elements in traditional Fijian culture (Basic equipment 1997). She relates turntablism to the beats of the lali log drum (used to announce mealtimes, among other things), the MC to her grandfather’s public speaking in a circle around the kava bowl, breakdancing to the ceremonial meke story-performance dances, and graffiti to cave painting or the designs of the tapa or masi cloth. Patterns recounting ancestral Fijian stories are stenciled, stamped or smoked into these bark cloths, made from the paper mulberry tree, which are used in traditional Fijian ceremonies and religious rituals. Trey has used tapa cloth designs on her CD covers and her website, as well as wearing them in performance. She also incorporated the name of the cloth into the name of her record label (Tapastry Toons) and the title of her second album (Tapastry tunes). In Basic equipment, Trey points out the diverse ethnic backgrounds of some Australian rappers, and invites Pauline Hanson, then a federal MP and leader of the One Nation anti-immigration party, to get down with them. Trey’s emphasis on equivalences between hip hop and Fijian cultural formations indicates how rap music has been indigenised or localised in the Pacific region (Mitchell 2003a). Trey was also a contributor to the all-women Australian hip hop compilation First words, which appeared in 1999 on the Mother Tongues label. Established by Heidi Pascal of Creative Vibes, Mother Tongues claims to be the first all-women hip hop label in the australian hip hop’s multicultural literacies sounds of then, sounds of now/popular music in australia 238 world. Trey’s influence on Australian women MCs was acknowledged in the documentary All the ladies, made by Colleen Hughson and Chilean-Australian Mary Quinsacara (MC Que) in 2003 (All the ladies 2003). The film profiled a number of female MCs, including Layla, whose gutter-mouthed first album Heretik made a big impact on Australian hip hop in 2005
Extract from ‘Basic Equipment’ with Trey.
Trey’s reference to Pauline Hanson is no accident – one of her tracks on her self-titled tape is called ‘One Nation Party’ and she is perhaps the first Australian rapper to have recorded a diss of Hanson. But her references to equivalences between hip hop and Fijian cultural formations indicate how rap music can become indigenised in the Pacific region. – Tony Mitchell
Featured on Culture of Kings Volume 3 in 2003
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia