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Interview with Josie Styles


25 June 2004 No Comment

Whether u want to call her Josie Styles or Jozi Styles it doesn’t make a difference, she is still bringing us closer to the art. This Dj/hip hop activist hails from down under, where u find animals that carry their babies in pouches. Australia mate. Their scene has been bubbling and Josie just hit me up with a compilation called “Straight from the Art” which was compiled by this diva.

I am truly inspired by a number of sistas who have been motivational in exposing the art of hip hop and it seems this trend is global. Check the discussion we had with her recently. “Straight from the Art is a diverse collection of the creative visions of some of the most talented artists from the Australian hip hop community. People who have worked diligently for many years striving for recognition in a genre that often leaves their accomplishments unrewarded. Every track has its own unique style; clearly proving that many different forms of hip hop can co-exist while reaching a wider audience at the same time. Listen to it and hear for yourself. Relate to what the lyrics are saying enjoy the vibe the artists have created and dance to the music, because this is coming straight from the art!”

Tell me who is Josie Styles? We know she not from Jozi, South Africa. When did u become involved with hip hop?

Aha, by day I am a Terrestrial Ecologist and catch frogs and other endangered animals for the Australian Museum; come nightfall, I don my best kicks and hit the clubs to play underground jawns. I have always been a fan of hip hop music and was listening avidly to it by the time I was eleven or so. Public Enemy, EricB and Rakim, RunDMC, NWA and Beastie Boys were kinda popular then. Lucky for me, my mate came back from Singapore in 1989 with a shitload of new wax including DeLaSoul’s “Three Ft High”, and Jungle Brothers “Done By the Forces” etc.. I was like damn ‘this positive shit is dope!’ and I have been loving hip hop ever since. I can only imagine I would be stuck in Jiggy Hell right now if it weren’t for my mate.

I know u an activist, what would you say is the job description of someone who is called an activist?

An activist normally aspires to help preserve the integrity of something, be it the environment or a subculture. I guess I do that with my day job so it naturally carries over to my love of hip hop..Nah I’m just sick of being in an industry full of ‘blue-veined’ wack fucks and its time to show them what’s going down in Oz! 

I think it’s important to evolve as a culture (which involves some degree of cross-generation exchange of information) while continually redefining and improving our sound. We can still stay true to our roots and progress musically, although some people do not believe this. 

When I think Oz I think rugby or cricket, I picture Shane Warne being suspended for catching on loads of shit. I think u the right person that can give me more insight into the hip hop scene since u a representation of it?

Yeh I s’pose most people expect it to always be sunny in Oz and that there’s bloody kangaroos hopping across the streets in town, which before white man’s arrival they would have done. We have a scene that has been bubbling since 1984 and is enjoying its late teens now. I presume with some improvements to the way the majority of our tracks are mixed down; Australian hip hop will enter its early adulthood and produce really refined sounds. Its not all bout beer and barbies (BBQ’s) anymore!! There’s soo much diversity amongst Oz hip hop, and that’s essentially what I tried to highlight with SFTA. For instance, there’s white boy nerd raps, party crews, street crews, indigenous hip hop, university bar hip hop, instrumental hip hop, skip hop (skinny white boy kindergarten raps), political raps etc… then there’s the ladies… not too many female DJ’s but there’s a few dope femcee’s; look out for A-Love, Layla and Kowhai. 

Do u play on air or strictly club joints?

If by ‘on air’ u mean edited, then I say a big FUCK OFF to censorship! I play shit like “Two Fat Cunts” by Mass MC and Fatface on our NATIONAL hip hop radio show! In clubs, I play whatever dope new tunes I’m feeling plus old ish. Sick of being disappointed by international DJ’s who play ‘safe’ tunes, I try to break new tracks. 

I think its exciting for you guys, you have been receiving a fair amount of shows from overseas acts but it seems as if your artists are really coming through in the sense that people out there are pushing for more releases. Local artist Tumi collaborated with oz producer Prowla so it just seems as if the scene is blowing up now?

On the hush hush tip, I got a major project in the works, which will see cross Atlantic collaborations for my 3rd cd release. Tumi did collaborate with PROWLA, ‘the greek seed from Australia’. I love everything Prowla has ever done and I owe my interest in Oz hip hop to him and a few others (AKA Brothers, Rise and Tarquee, Trem, Bros Stoney). Had they not produced such dope shit, I dunno where my passions would lie now. Our scene is definitely causing more of an impact on the retail market with our local lads from Adelaide, The Hilltop Hoods, selling 35 000 units of their last cd. This is the biggest INDEPENDENT Oz hip hop release. It’s a very interesting time in Oz hip hop right now, keep up to date by visiting: 

There is one act that I been wanting to ask u bout, Delta. The name just travels from continent to continent, can u elaborate to our readers on who Delta is?

Delta who has a track on SFTA (‘Laid Lore’) is Oz’s best freestyle MC. He also won the recent Oz VS NZ MC battle and cleaned up the New Zealanders with one punch line. Although not technically a ‘punchline’ MC like Sydney’s Hyjak, Delta can flip anything that is spat at him and more. Lyrically, he has a metaphorical complexity that is second to none. He has worked with MarkB (UK), Atoms family and Cannibal Ox to name a few. His ‘Paperweight’ vinyl only EP is due for repress soon, check www.checkoutwax.com regularly and it will soon be there.

Lets get into that release that you compiled entitled “Straight from the Art” how did that come about?

I guess Warner saw a window of opportunity to gain some commercial success from the Oz hip hop underground. We have a mistrust of major labels in this country and I was hoping to try and cross that barrier. Warner have so far been excellent and forthcoming with all of my requests. It is THE first Oz hip hop compilation to be manufactured and distributed by a major label. This itself is a success. But it was the femcees like Layla, A-Love and Eternia who gained significant exposure through this release. Both tracks were instantly added to high rotation on the national ‘youth’ radio station and the album was made album of the week. 

Taking a proposal for such a compilation to Warner Music Australia (who manufactured and distributed the album); what was the difficulty or is it a scenario where labels are looking for anything that’s hip hop?

The labels are looking for hip hop or ‘urban’ flavas right now but I just couldn’t let someone really wack compile an Oz hip hop cd that wouldn’t do the scene any justice. So yeh I ‘bumrushed the show’!

If you can take this years achievements so far put it in perspective where do u scheme the Australian hip hop scene will be within the next year or so?

Well I am about to drop Straight from the Art Vol 2 on July 26th 2004 so after a national tour of that release we should reach even further.

I’m hopin we can setup networks so that we can get some South African music out on your scene any chance that you might drop in on my side of the globe?

Absolutely. Hip Hop is such a universal language and I try and establish as many connections with people from all places because I reckon cross collaborations are so much fun. Well as to visiting, I am contemplating coming to S.A to see y’all after I leave UK in Sept; I would LOVE to rock a club in J-berg, jozi stylee… 

Its a quarter past 12 at night and I need to get my ass in bed, tell the heads why they need to get it, and your shout outs.

Music needs to be coming straight from the heart because if it aint, then its coming straight outta ya arse! To all those doing what they gotta do to survive, keep bringing it real and in the words of Delta, “hold it down musically like a paperweight”. RIP Illpickl and all other warriors/soldiers who have lost their lives in any war, including the war within one’s self. 

I would like to thank Empirical Records, Josie Styles and Stealth Magazine for the info and music material:


Straight from the Art
1.Draco & Jack Prest-intro
2.Bliss n Eso-Greenhouse
3.A-Love ft Eternia-Movin
4.Koolism & Mnemonic ascent-On deck
5.Dazastah-Woody woodpecker (remix)
7.The Cannibal tribe ft Camielle-Hip hop terrorist
8.Jobi one-Mind of persistance
9.Hermitude-Gusto’s theme
10.Sleeping monk-Everytime
11.Quro,Muskrat & Mostyn-Who are you?
12.Delta-Laid lore
13.Two up-If rap was a sport
14.Jade nemesis-Leftovers
15.Sir Robbo ft Hau,Ozi batla & Urthboy-The patch
16.Mas production ft Seanie T-7 dayz of herb
17.Terrafirma-Over it
18.Blunted stylus-Definite dimension 

Straight from the Art Vol 2 out July 26th 2004, overseas orders go to: www.checkoutwax.com

Interview by Rush

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