KOOLISM – Keeping Their Kool

KOOLISM HAVE HELD IT DOWN SINCE CASSETTES, PUSHING THE DOWN UNDER CULTURE FOR OVER SEVENTEEN YEARS NOW, AND MC HAU IS HAPPY TO SHARE THE KNOWLEDGE GAINED OVER THE YEARS.

DANIELSAN & HAU interviewed @ 13:50 AEST –  Friday 12th February, 2009
For Street Press Australia & Rip2Shredz Press

Words by RIP NICHOLSON

An interstate, cross-Tasman duo, DJ Danielsan (the Kiwi) and Aussie MC Hau have walked over lines of regional style and format to bring Koolism to our attention. New Zealand and Australia have rivalled each other in many codes of sport, and hip hop has followed suit it would seem. Capital City-born Hau, who has almost two decades of rhyming experience up his sleeve, drops a few home truths on the culture clash with our closest neighbours.

“They really don’t like Australian hip-hop over there,” Hau admits with quiet reserve. “They grew up in a very American society. It’s hard for them to break out of it and hard to say ‘oh you shouldn’t rap like that.’ We in Australia are not meant to like that sort of thing, but Savage is selling like a million downloads in the states, so it’s hard to say they’re in the wrong.”

One of the major differences in the hip hop blueprint across the Tasman is the use of R&B hooks – while it’s seen as common practise in New Zealand, over here some insiders see this as sacrilegious toward the Aussie movement.

“Australia is very close-minded about these things,” Hau reflects on his own attempts at blending the formats. “We have our fickle scene. Even when we were coming out we had some break elements, jungle elements, reggae and we wanted to combine the two [hip-hop and R&B]. When we did that we had a few people say ‘what’s with the techno sound?’ So Australia can be close-minded, but at the same time we’ve always stuck to our guns in terms of our own identity.”

Our own identity has grown over the career span of Koolism and then some. The faces in the scene are new but the game is still the same, and it’s how Australians have received the art that’s played the bigger hand. With a vet of his length of tenure on the other end of the line, Hau gives his view on the developing scene.

“Wider acknowledgement, we never cared about being accepted,” Hau says. “I think that’s why the scene is so strong because we did it all on our own backs. We didn’t have to rely on people. We’ve built the foundation and now people are starting to feel it.”

Hau Latekefu and Daniel Elleson have been lacing dope beats with rhymes since 1992. Koolism became a breakthrough duo on the Homebrews Volume 1 mixtape and then onBedroom Shit, both dealt out on cassettes. This became the inspiration for ‘Tapes’ off their 2006 album New Old Ground,their fourth studio drop.

Koolism are now catching vapours for their career contribution. With Danielsan and Hau working out their new album this year, Hau can throw his weight around radio playlists by hosting Triple J’s Hip Hop Show. It’s a seat which holds a lot of responsibility and influence, something he loves about his job.

“Because a lot of kids coming up now have missed a lot of good hip hop from back in the day and still coming out,” his voice raises passionately. “There’s Europe, Japan, Africa that’s doing hip hop, and the underground in the States as well. I feel that’s my role. I feel like I’m a part of the movement of acknowledging not only today’s culture but yesteryear. The Kool Hercs, Jazzy Jays and Red Alerts.”

Hau clearly finds great solace and satisfaction in this role. “It’s the responsibility I take upon myself – to give the wider audience something a bit different to the usual hip hop they might play on Triple J.”

For a man who once had the legendary DJ Kool Herc over for a BBQ, Hau drops more than science for those caught on chart and ringtone rotations. Koolism have always crossed the lines to acknowledge the roots and further the cause of hip-hop.

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