“YOU’RE NEVER TOO OLD FOR THIS SHIT!”
LAZY GREY interviewed Friday 28th May, 2009
For Street Press Australia & Rip2Shredz Press
Words by RIP NICHOLSON
Image courtesy of Lee Harnden
Growing up during Brisbane’s early gestations of hip-hop, stirring beats off an MPC and recording rhymes on cassette tapes made Lazy Grey it’s consummate by-product. Giving this city steez from day one, Lazy Grey has been putting it down for seven ages of man in a culture not long up for long service leave, but not retiring! “You’re never too old for this shit.”
Since Kangol hats and Cazals, Adidas with no laces from the Golden Era it’s been our thing, when a generation here shopped K-Mart and Target for the no-frills imitate. After twenty years, the steez is back in rotation and Lazy Grey is holding down our dialect on wax firmly. In fifteen minutes of fame, the metaphorical view on Grey’s brow has the wordsmith touching on Shakespearean monologue explaining everything from the title of his new album, hot to drop in the coming month to his place on the national stage.
“The soundtrack for the lyrics had me taking on the conspiracy side of views again. When you look at the Earth, there’s the stage and there’s all the fuckin’ players performing. I’m just writin’ the soundtrack to what’s going on.” Lazy writes his rhymes on the shoulders of Gods, looking down. “Everybody has questions, all the same stories keep popping up, I thought, that would be the soundtrack and let the actors act, sit back and make some music. It’s a soundtrack to our times.”
Lazy separated his personal place from this body of work, insisting Soundtrack paints a global opinion rather than a reflective piece often assumed in hip-hop’s theatre.
A leading role on our local scene since the early 90’s, Lazy Grey has a formidable flow of lyrics delivered in a cold honest tone. He finds the right pitch and vernacular for channeling through the backwash n bullshit around the snaking Brisbane river with vivid verbal realism in his raps. He has appeared alongside and produced some of our country’s most notorious hip-hop hard-heads in releases by Brad Strut, Nuffsaid, 2 Dogs, Bias B and Mnemonic Ascent.
Growing up inner-city had Grey amerced in a sub-culture scratching their tags and crew’s acronyms up and down the Ipswich line. While graffers wrote their fame on walls, Grey put his to paper and wrote rhymes of his time, feeding off his inspiration from the aerosol crews of the Eighties. The ‘Lazy Grey’ tag comes from the old U.S. hundred note. The grey notes were sometime referred to as ‘lazy greys’ and with the change into the universally recognised dirty green of today, this, in his own words “makes him a relic.”
On the books for Crookneck Records, Banned in Queensland was Grey’s first major album released late ‘04 after the self-funded debut of On or Off Tap scraped the scene in 1998 shifting 600 units. Teaming with Lenwun early in his career, the duo rode as Boney + Stoney dropping a self-titled EP, a taste of what would later become the Beavis & Butthead of Brisbane’s Brothers Stoney. Before that was demos collected on cassette tape.
“At school we just had tape demos and stuff like that. When I finished school in ‘92, hanging out, goin’ to parties (with our tapes) Couple of years after that we got a couple support slots every time DJs came out.” Lazy takes us back to our own golden era in the live, Fortitude Valley circuit. “A friend of mine said: ‘Let’s get meshed out and have a good time!’ They were beautiful days. The Zoo, Rick’s Café gigs. Resin Dogs were doing stuff and had started coming out with ideas and collabing about ‘97.”
Brisbane experienced a period of renaissance in hip-hop through the late 90’s to the digital-now year. Big band act, Resin Dogs and their Hydrofunk imprint laid pipework for starving emcees such as Lenwun, Two Dogs, Ken Oath and the man of the minute. Before 1992 Brisbane lacked the support for hip-hop to get a spot on any stage, until they let the dogs out.
“Until The Resin Dogs came along, (pre) ‘92 not having stage shows, we were left freestyling alone which really gave us a boost to live shows, playing for larger crowd and stuff like that. Travelling to Melbourne and hooking up with Bias B and the others down there.”
Grey credits Resin producer, Blunted Stylist for teaching him the science of sampology in hip-hop. For transformer producer and emcee, who is well-acknowledged for his mad skills on an MPC, this latest project marks the first time Lazy Grey relinquishes creative control behind the boards for the original artist. Forming with V on the boards and 4ZZZ radio host and label boss DCIDE with the final cut n mixx. The three-man hit squad produced the album entirely from root to the fruit of the album.
“For 10 years, I have always collabed with close friends from other crews.” Speaks a wizened voice of many abusive years on the mic. “This time, working on a big project with 750 Rebels I want to refine this down. By having three producers on board, just to paint the picture, I sat down and said ‘Who are the players in the game, who’s gonna play what part? I’m gonna be the rapper, i’m not gonna make beats this time round.’ If I did, the album wouldn’t be out for another two years. It was definitely a conscious move.” From the sound creation, Lazy puts into perspective the parallels to the album’s concept, “It relates to the beats behind the music and evolution from the samples on the (80’s soundtracks) album. Definitely a source of sound from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s.” This album in his pocket, Lazy continues to maintain his stance on stage for his culture, despite the constraints of balancing a working life.
“I’ve been working hard myself, doing 9 to 5. The time that I do have to put my energy into it, I want to focus on my lyrics. At times I felt that things have been taken away from me, but that was a baby stage. But as it evolved I saw (the producer) is developing something. Time to just sit back and watch it grow. It was all done in just under a year.”
A long way from the early days in and around Toowong, Lazy Grey lays down thought-provoking tracks to stir up rather stagnant waters of “all beers and barbecue bullshit and backyard Aussie weekend” music lagging behind the paces picking up in our local dialect. The icon of a local movement can’t help feel his age with the strength of the Y-generation’s talent, but a veteran stature at this point, may to too early to call in his view.
“I wouldn’t say veteran, I feel a bit old, seeing the kids out there, doing crazy free styles. So many young producers are coming out. It’s crazy. I definitely feel old, but not out of touch.”
Grey puts it bluntly – how a rolling stone maintains his swagger in 2009 on his second solo long player.
“I suppose not letting yourself get caught up in bullshit. There is always going to be someone saying shit about you, there is always the negativity. Remember what you are doing. Get your own sound and remember why you are doing this.” Grey puts it into black and white, “Just keep fucking making music. You can be 70 years old in a wheel chair but still writing down ideas on paper. You are never too old for this shit. We are the first generation to get older! Just put out music and nothing else matters.”