Talk about a pioneer to this Hip Hop game! It doesn’t get any realer than Abe Arends aka Uncle Abe, the larger-than-life-in-your-face-comedic-rapping-truth-serum-delivering-no-care-having-living-his-life-his-way urban personality that has seen a lot and knows too much of what the Australian Hip Hop scene is really all about. South African born, Sydney based Hip Hop rapper / emcee has about 20 years in this industry and has done it all, from recording to performing to hosting some of the biggest nightclubs and concerts in the country, delivering it all with his laugh out loud humor that often speaks the truth when you least expect it.
Since the 2012 launch of his hilarious tongue in cheek YouTube comedy skit series “What’s Happenin TV”, Abe has garnered a new generation of followers to heed his messages of men standing up and being real men again and women not letting men or anyone for that matter handle their business better than they do. Abe’s style is all his own, whether at the helm of his TV skit or on stage commanding a thronging hip hop crowd to running a very successful chair design and upholstery business, one thing is certain – Abe is unapologetic in the way he steers his life, a definitive nod to his longevity in the game.
A conversation with Uncle Abe is anything but predictable. I always come away having learnt something, even when delivered in his own enigmatic side splitting style. This interview shines a light on a true pioneer in our Australian urban scene and showcases a myriad of talents and skill all rolled up in a man who knows what he wants and wants it all.
It has been a minute since I last interviewed you Abe..so glad to speak with you again my friend. How has life been for you the past 5 years?
Miss Hen what’s good …..life has been good, like so many others in our industry I’m blessed. Plenty of work, plenty of new faces and plenty of good times. Past 5 years heheheheheh (insert evil laugh here) Just doing me and a lot of concentration directed towards Was Happnin Tv with my man Steven Tevo Guzman a skit / news show we put together a few years ago, and still rocking the mic like only I can!
Your presence in the Australian urban community has been on a variety of levels. Whilst many would see you front and centre as hype man and emcee at hip hop concerts and nightclubs, you have been instrumental in a lot of behind the scenes projects and developments as well. Can you best describe your hip hop journey thus far Abes and what this music and culture means to you?
To make a long 20 year story short, I was born into hip hop, my dad, uncles, aunties cousins next door neighbor’s listened to funk danced to funk even sung funk at times and well it was ingrained in me to be part of that movement. I started writing poetry from the age of 5, I used to write my mum poems about how much I loved her, she used to ask me every day for a new poem so I guess that was the start of my Rapping career.
Skip a few years to when I started WORKING and earning money as a mc came at the tender age of 14, yes things were very different back then, Nightclubs were a little more lenient on age laws and I was determined to be in that scene so there was literally no stopping me ! Simply put I put in work I was at every hip hop gig, mc’ed on every stage, worked for every promoter and made myself known to everyone (talk about self-centered lol).
As arrogant as it may sound I new I was at the top of my game and I proved that by being here for so long. But in saying that I worked hard to forge friendships and working relationships and gave back to the scene just as much as I got given. Music meant nothing to me (Shock), making people happy, making people dance and have a good time meant everything (still does), people will forget some asshole that stands on stage and is there for him or herself but will always remember the dude that shock their hand or asked them how they were doing, making yourself accessible keeps you grounded and appreciated. Hip hop culture today is not as potent as it once was (blahh blahh blahh old man groans) but I will say the merging of genres and styles has opened Pandora’s box as I have worked in front of so many crowds and people that otherwise would never have experienced the inclusive style of emceeing, having somebody with a mic at any gig adds that dash of spice that makes the party so much better, especially when that MC is good at his or her job!
Hailing from Johannesburg South Africa and calling Australia home for many years, like myself, you have seen this community develop in small steps, sometimes we thought we were headed nowhere fast, other times we hit the mark! What do you think the urban communities strengths and weaknesses are and why?
The “URBAN” scene is plagued with a bunch of hit and runners (as far as Sydney is concerned), No loyalty no love and definitely a gang of dumbass people pulling the strings that are out for a quick buck, Needless to say the patrons are so fickle at times that promoters have a damn hard job keeping the community tight. It’s a catch 20/2? The scene is good ATM, there are some good clubs and the music is as good as it has ever been which makes me think that someone is doing their job.
Hip hop RnB Rap Reggae music is being played EVERYWERE!! “OUR” music is…Being used in every club, pub and festival why not embrace it and reclaim it? That’s our down fall!! We would rather go to a WHITES ONLY CLUB and be.The only darky standing in the corner because we think were better that the SCENE! We forget that BLACK MUSIC IS MADE FOR AND BY “BLACK PEOPLE”, now my statement is in no way racist as so it may seem. I work at and go to clubs all over the world! and I will say I have heard BETTER hip hop music in chic lesbian bars and exclusive “MEMBERS ONLY” clubs than I hear at our own so called events. WE have lost our ourselves chasing other peoples style and ways, Hip hop/RnB clubs are meant to be slick, cool, dingy, friendly, open to all, good vibes and good music. We have to stop trying to be something we’re not and embrace the people we are!
You have seen so many come and go in this scene Abes yet you have managed to remain true to the game and still relevant to our ever changing scene? What do you believe pushes you to do what you do and not walk away like so many before us have?
As for mentioned making people happy! you paid 20-30 dollars to see me and my friends I owe it to you to make you have a good time, weather that’s acknowledging your particular celebration (birthday etc.) or making your night just that little more exiting. Walking away is not a bad thing as people grow tired of the BULLSHIT I get that, but for myself I love seeing cats smile and I guess that my drug so keeping that in mind longevity goes hand in hand.
Can you share something about yourself that would surprise a lot of people?
I design furniture, fabrics are my friend.
You have a myriad of talents and not all music related either. Many are familiar with your custom chair design company Eldorado Park (named after the South African suburb you were born in) – how is the business going for you and what do you enjoy about furniture design? Why chairs?
It’s not that weird to me as more than half of my family are upholsters and seamstresses. I have been doing it since I was 10 lol. The business is going well its very niche’y so the deigning process is long but fun.
You have emceed numerous hip hop concerts for some big name acts like Busta Rhymes, DJ Quik etc. ……how do you prepare for getting a crowd hyped and how much more different is concert emceeing to night club MC?
Prepare !!!hahahahahahahhaahahahahahaahahahahahahahaahahahahahaah, (clutching stomach) my dear Max, you know me for those that don’t, Onstage off stage I AM ABE, I’ll give all y’all a ill tip if you try to be something your not you’re transparent! when I grab the mic it’s all me, I project positivity love and fun. One small ritual would be a quick rundown of a run sheet that I usually write myself as not knowing particular details of a particular event can leave you looking like an idiot! as for club work standing amongst people before actually getting on puts you in the same vibe as the patrons.
What are you listening to right now Abes? What do you think are the ingredients for the perfect hip hop track?
GLAD YOU ASKED!!!!!!! KENDRICK LAMAR… dope dope dope dope, Joey Bad A$$,Big K.R.I.T, Skyzoo & !llmind, Zion i, Shabazz Palaces ohh shit did u mean ONE !! there’s so much fresh shit out ATM, that’s what I love about hip hop DIGGING IN THE CRATES !! discovering new stuff its nuts !! perfect hip hop track ! BE DIFFERENT and don’t talk about cars you don’t have or jewels you don’t rock or anything with an 808 drum backing !!
What are you currently working on? More What’s Happening skits in the make?
I wanna do a mix tape !! it’s all talk ATM, but I want to work with my two favourite MC’s Kenny Hoods and Monchichi and a gang of my fav dh’s the will is there but time is hard to come by so we will see in the new year. Was Hapnin TV hahahahahahahahahahahahah my baby is going well and our next instalment is being squared up right now it’s been shot so it’s just editing and loose ends being tied up should be out very very soon !!
What is you mission statement in life?
Fuck what he or she is doing do you, wake up every damn day with good on your mind makes happiness your goal so when ill comes on your path it is merely an obstacle that can be overcome! love yourself first because a dark heart can’t project light!
Always Hip Hop,