EVEN THOUGH DRAPHT KILLED OFF HIS SUCCESSFUL ALTER EGO, RIP NICHOLSON FINDS HIS ALBUM NEARLY KILLED DRAPHT HIMSELF.
DRAPHT interviewed @ 17:00 AEST – Wednesday 17th August, 2011
For Street Press Australia & Rip2Shredz Press
Words by RIP NICHOLSON
Paul ‘Drapht’ Ridge introduced to us to Jimmy Recard in 2008, and since then his fine malt lyrics and golden boy charm have made him one of brightest talents in the national scene. Jimmy’s influence took the MC from his nine-to-five out headlining late-night pub crawls and parties around the country, and a shitload of radio play. But he’s always looking to the next one and in order for Ridge to grow as an artist, Jimmy had to die on this year’s The Life Of Riley LP.
Back with Mr. Trials, Drapht continues with the Paul and Dan show with more of what you like and then some – but at a cost. When Ridge first aligned with Trials in 2008 for Brothers Grimm he ventured into the den of the depraved Funkoars in Adelaide and the pair debauched their precious time in sessions of Jagerbombs, beers and playing the pokies. Despite this, they pressed on to release one of the highest-selling independent records of the year. But with his suffering from a stomach illness, Ridge explains for their 2011 reunion, he and Trials set a more sensible diet during their time spent on The Life Of Riley.
“Trials and his fiancé both suffered similar stomach issues to what I have. So we drank hardly any booze at all and hardly any junk food. We were rolling down to the supermarket just buying all organic fresh produce and cooking. Trials had a glass of wine here and there, that’s it. We’ve grown a lot over the last few years.”
The monastic approach to the album gave Ridge the room to expand on his vision as an artist and keep his career in drive. He had a strong hand in the mechanics behind his music, the results of which make for a layer cake of instrumentals, production and rich vocals on top lined on hooks that converge sharply into The Life Of Riley. On what has become the hardest record Drapht’s ever worked on, with the numbers mounting in favour of it, it could also wind up being the finest body of work of his career.
“Well, it was more my sense of responsibility in my livelihood. I wanted to really make this a career and not have to go back to work in a few years. So we were really focused on how to go forward and what to bring into the picture to reach the next level. There was a lot of stuff that we haven’t worked on in the past. New forms of instrumentation and in recording, getting session musos involved and with other vocals as well, Abbe May in mind and Simon Cox too. We never did this in the past. It was literally bang up a beat generated by samples with me writing raps to it – and that’s all it was. Now there are ten times more layers when it comes to the production stage.”
The numbers of just how many beats from the infamous producer were killed in the making The Life Of Riley, Ridge calculates to be “at least ten records’ worth of beats that will probably never see the light of day.” And why so many? “It’s a matter of me flying down to Adelaide and [Trials] plying me with as many beats as possible and I just go over all the subject matter that I have and that I really wanna focus on and marry up my ideas with his feel for production. It’s a long, long process and each song or subject matter goes through at least fifty beats until I find one that fits like a glove. So there’s a lot of stuff that gets recycled and beats that go to waste. And it’s not me taking beats away from the ‘Oars, or Vents or the ‘Hoods, it’s just that I have a different style to anyone else. It’s never a case of me taking what’s not mine.”
The success of Brothers Grimm afforded Ridge the opportunity to become a full-time recording artist and remain independent. “I was fortunate enough to take the next step into my livelihood, which still amazes me now when I say it. I can’t believe it; you know, doing this nine-to-five. Well, it’s more of a when I wake up and until I go to sleep kinda hours. It’s something I love doing. So many people think that I’ve got this walk-in-the-park career. Fuck, I’ve worked so hard for this. I’m a solo MC, I’ve recorded and arranged my own stuff, I’ve written four records and it hasn’t just happened because I’m a lucky dude. It’s because I’ve worked hard for this over the last ten years.”
The pivotal point in his career came when Ridge swung in from the underbelly of Australian hip hop with Brothers Grimm_’s third single, _Jimmy Recard, stealing tenth in triple j’s Hottest 100, the success of which blasted him into the realm of household names. However, the King of the bar would become his curse and would push him for another J.R. hit. On ‘R.I.P. J.R.’Ridge mirrored the song arrangement to a sinister beat and penned probably the first ever diss track to a rapper’s own alter ego, literally killing off any question of a sequel.
“I had already created Jimmy – what’s the point in working on a formula? It’s probably a successful formula, but it’s one that everybody’s already heard. It just defeats the purpose of making music. It’s something that I really enjoy in the overall task and push myself to get a different feel with every album and move forward and if I was going to write another ‘Jimmy Recard’, then I’d just be staying in the same position or moving backwards. That is not what I wanted to achieve with the album. No one has ever told me what music I should write or what direction to take. And I didn’t have any pressure myself to back up Jimmy… It was like that has already been created, it’s time to move on from that particular style and I’ve done that onThe Life Of Riley.”
At some point Ridge felt the album was closing in on the MC, The Life Of Riley consuming his waking hours without relent. On the post-mortem he vows to not let that happen again. “I’m a perfectionist and the more I play it back, the more time I spend on it until it inevitably just brings me to the brink of insanity. I was so used to having the girlfriend and the nine-to-five. It took my mind off of making my previous three records and I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into with the making of The Life Of Riley.”