Sydney Visual Artist Sophieaye Painting Hip Hop with Purpose


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There’s something exciting about experiencing hip hop through a visual artists eyes, seeing their interpretation through their brush stroke or their image of hip hop in a piece of handmade artwork. One such local visual artist that is taking the hip hop art world by storm is the super talented Sophie Al-Bazouni aka Sophieaye,representing South Western Sydney and capturing the art of hip hop through her incredible painted portraits of some of the genres greatest.

As a deep seeded fan of hip hop and its culture, Sophieaye was always drawn to the music and its message from a young age, as a fan of the legendary Tupac and Notorious BIG. Starting out with a passion for drawing characters and hip hop artists in particular, Sophie eventually started dabbling in painting and her passion for the music and culture spilt over into amazing pieces that captured the essence of the artists who inspired her daily life. Taking part in this years celebrated 4 Elements Hip Hop festival in Bankstown in March, Sophieaye’s works hung pride of place in the gallery foyer of the Bankstown Arts Centre leading into the festival and garnered praise and attention from festival goers and council members alike. She has since gone on to ignite her local hip hop community with her impressive works and building a name for herself and her beautiful portraits of influential hip hop leaders such as Tupac, Notorious BIG, Lauryn Hill and the like.

In her first interview ever ( as she excitedly exclaims), this Bachelor of Fine Arts student shares what motivates and drives her passion for painting hip hop portraits and how she hopes her artwork is received by those who are drawn to it. Very excited for this truly talented, humble and inspiring young artist putting her passion to higher purpose.

Thanks so much for your time Sophieaye, I truly appreciate it. How has life been treating you thus far?

Thank you for the opportunity! Life has been good, I can’t complain. Busy as always, I’ve got a lot coming up!

Biggie Blue

Your artwork is something that is truly unique and symbolic of the art and culture of Hip Hop. How would best describe your artwork, what it is you create and what you enjoy most about the process of creating these hip hop inspired pieces?

When people ask what I do, I always say that I paint Hip Hop portraits. I’ve explored other subjects but that’s mainly what my practice has consisted of. I couldn’t tell you the amount of times I’ve painted 2Pac and Biggie. My English teacher once told me to write about what I know, so I took that advice and applied it to my art. Music is second to art for me, and it’s a lot easier to paint something which you’re passionate about.

How does inspiration come to you and how does the world itself play a part in your creative process?

It usually comes from the songs themselves, especially the lyrics and the flow of a song. Whenever I listen to a song I paint it in my mind. The way certain lyricists can rap, I want to be able to paint. I love the atmosphere that’s created with Hip Hop, music is the first thing I pay attention to when I walk into a place and if it’s anything I like don’t even attempt to have a conversation with me (my friends can vouch for this).

Sophie face

What is it about being an artist appeals to you so and what or who encouraged you to take the first step in your artistry?

I’ve been into art for as long as I can remember, but I’ve come a long way from drawing anime characters! I could never see myself in an office job, and for a while I thought that I couldn’t make it as an artist. It’s only until recently that I realised I could, and I’ve started taking steps towards making it my career. It’s very rewarding to give something back to a culture I appreciate so much. I’ve been blessed, and there is no way I’m going to let it waste away as a hobby. I’m inspired by the rappers I paint, my high school art teacher and my mum and dad, who has never questioned me when it comes to the decisions I make. The support and love I get from my family and friends can last a lifetime. I want to immortalise the influencers and cement my name in Hip Hop culture.

When you are in your creative zone what keeps you motivated and do you have any particular rituals or music that inspires your artistic flow? What are your favourite musical artists / songs and why?

I always have something playing when I’m painting whether it’s music or something on the TV. Lately I’ve just put Fresh Prince on, or I’m listening to the latest album drop (currently SchoolBoy Q’s Blank Face LP). Sometimes my friends keep me company with good conversation and argheli but I’ve found that to be a bit distracting! My favourite rapper is Biggie because I love his flow, voice, lyrics, everything about him. I have a large list of favourite artists and songs so this could take a while but my top five albums are:

  1. Illmatic – Nas
  2. GKMC – Kendrick Lamar
  3. Ready to Die – Biggie
  4. Miseducation of Lauryn Hill – Lauryn Hill
  5. Friday Night Lights – J.Cole

Sophie kanye

Where are your collections currently featured at the moment? (Art Galleries, Museums, Public Spaces) and what is the general public feedback on your works?

I have my largest work to date hanging at BMCP, a shisha cafe in Parramatta. I’m a regular there and it’s always the first place I recommend to people! Right now I’m working on my first exhibition so I’ll have some works hanging very, very soon. I’ve always had the best reception to my work, it motivates me to keep doing what I do. Usually it starts with “Did you do that?!” followed by “Can you paint me?” In all seriousness though it’s very humbling and really warms the heart.

What do you hope is the feeling that people get when they look at your incredible pieces?

I just want to take them back to a place where they listened to a certain song and make them admire their favourite artist even more than they probably already do. I’m just painting what I love and I want viewers to feel that love when they see my work.


Your motto in life?

Love Yourz. “What’s money without happiness? Or hard times without the people you love?”

Sophie erykah badu

For more information on Sophieaye and her artwork visit her on:

Always Hip Hop

Ms Hennessey

Basking in the Exalted Glory of the Soweto Gospel Choir


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“Dazzling and unified…..Soweto Gospel Choir was as much to look at as to listen to. The human spirit – this you couldn’t miss” The Los Angeles Times, 2012

“Boasting two Grammy Awards, an Emmy Award, SA Music Awards, and having performed at the Oscars all in just 10 years, easily makes this the world’s best choir” City Press, South Africa May 2013

Just two of the endless reviews that this phenomenal internationally renowned choir have and continue to receive no matter the continents their exalted voices travel too. And they are set to return to Australia in late June for a nationwide tour that will again inspire, uplift and engage audiences of all ages, colours and creeds, as the unifying essence of music is supposed to do.

Hailing from the township of Soweto in Johannesburg South Africa, The Soweto Gospel Choir have been in the business of soul whispering and healing through music since the choir was first founded in 2002 by choir leaders David Mulovhedzi and Beverly Bryer. Amassing a more than 30-member ensemble, the choir blends elements of African gospel, Negro spirituals, reggae and American popular music into an electrifying sight and sound visual experience that has and continues to capture the world over. From the powerful and majestic voices to the colourful outfits and uplifting ambience, The Soweto Gospel Choir is food for the mind and soul. Over the past 16 years in the international arena, the choir has performed with the likes of Robert Plant, Bono, Akon, Keri Hilson, Peter Gabriel, Black-Eyed Peas, Shakira, Angelique Kidjo and John name a few and have performed for the late South African President Mandela, former US President Bill Clinton, Oprah, Quincy Jones, Archbishop Tutu, Prime Minister David Cameron, Prince Harry, The Lord Mayor of London and many more.

With two albums ‘ Blessed’ and ‘ African Spirit’ that have both received The Grammy Award for Best Traditional World Music Album in 2007 and 2008, the choir also collaborated with artist Peter Gabriel on the song from the Disney movie WALL-E called ‘Down to Earth’, which was also nominated for Best Song in 2009. From State performances for global leaders to lending their vocals to rock concerts and everything in between, the Soweto Gospel Choir are undoubtedly the most recognised and respected international choir in the world and it is a position they do not take lightly.

Catching up with choreographer, choir master, tenor, dancer and founding member Shimmy Jiyane about the upcoming Australian tour called “Faith”, he took some time out his busy schedule to shed some light on the choir’s inspiring journey thus far and what motivates the members to share their majestic voices so effortlessly with the world. I am so excited to share this interview and a small window into the musical world of a sound so rich and transcendent of my childhood growing up in my hometown of Johannesburg, the colours, the rhythm and the pulse of a country that has birthed a choir that continues to mesmerize the world over.

Hello Shimmy and thanks for your time. How has life been treating you?

Life has been good just working hard with the choir on our new album and show.
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You hail from my native homeland of South Africa and for that I am most proud. South African music, be it gospel or beats has been getting considerable love from the global market of late and serving as inspiration for many other countries musical communities and has done so for years. The Gospel Choir is world-renowned and synonymous for its depth and beauty of sound. How would you best describe the power of this gospel and the message behind it music?

Soweto gospel choir’s sound comes from our proud musical traditions, taught to us from an early age in our homes, schools and churches. We are known for our beautiful African harmonies that are unique to the choir and to African music in general. We truly love singing and enjoy passing this on to our audiences, so the beauty of this love translates into our music and our message is one of upliftment and joy. Our audiences are affected by the sincerity of our belief in God and in our genuine energy and love for life. We don’t need to preach our message, you just need to listen to our voices that come from the soul.

Who are the Soweto Gospel Choir, how many singers does it consist of and what keeps you all so committed to this union?

SGC actually comprises 42 members in total, 21 of who are on this tour. The choir is our family and we’ve been together for 14 years, so the love of our musical family and of our wonderful musical journey, keeps us committed to this union.

We are so excited to know that you will be visiting Australia for a tour soon. What can we expect from your show and what are you currently working on musically that you can share with us over here?

We are so excited to be coming to Australia and bringing our new show called Faith with many beautiful, diverse voices from South Africa as well as dancers and drummers. We have some new costumes and a variety of percussive instruments unique to South Africa. There are some fun and energetic routines as well as some gentle, soulful numbers, and our repertoire includes traditional and gospel songs representative of our different cultures and faith as well as some classic international favourites.

How would you say South African music is received by the global audience? What makes its sound so special and unique?

Soweto gospel choir comes from the background, where even the shades of a tree, not a brick and mortar building, can house a church service. The harmonies, the energy and the intensity of South African music is what makes it so exciting for international audiences and keep in mind, that every song has its own African movements, so that adds a uniqueness that is greatly appreciated.

Where can we find you online?

What would you say is the greatest motivation for the choir in doing what you all do?

We love to sing!

 For more information on The Soweto Gospel Choir visit:


Catch the Soweto Gospel Choir on their Australian Tour:



Hip Hop and Beyond

Ms Hennessey

Aaradhna talks Brown Girl album, Loving Yourself and Taking on the World


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She is one of the greatest vocal exports out of New Zealand, with a voice and demeanour as regal as the soul queen she was born to be. Aaradhna is a force to be reckoned with as she continues her steady climb from up and coming singer to a bona fide soulstress with a  four album strong discography and a global fan base that just get enough of this Porirua born Samoan-Indian beauty.

As she embarks on her Australian tour for her newly minted soon-to-be-released album Brown Girl on Dawn Raid Entertainment, Aaradhna has remained a consistent and committed artist of her music, working with the likes of Savage, Che Fu, P Money and David Dallas over the years and travelling between new Zealand, The US and London to cultivate a sound that is unique and bold, complimenting her messages of relationships, race, politics and female empowerment on her current album “Brown Girl”. It possesses a powerful and edgier tone than her soulful and sexy Treble & Reverb release of 2012, an album that caught the ears of the US market and put Aaradhna on the global soul watch. For an artist who first explored the earlier stirrings of performance at the age of 11, singing along to Bollywood movies she would watch with her father, the stage was already set for this powerhouse vocalist, with her debut album I Love You landing on the RIANZ Top 20.

Aaradhna has always been a mysterious and almost mystical personality to me, watching her star rise organically in an industry that can break you before they make you. A lot can be said of her character steadfastly focussed on creating honest and inspiring music that lives to stand the test of time. She is humble, grounded, secure and confident in her journey and that is a strength that can be felt in conversation with her and through her music. This interview highlights a glimpse into the thoughts of a woman who has created a lane for herself in an over processed, often synthetic music world and given us her raw, pure and undiluted soul through music and that, to any music lover, is the ultimate gift of artistry.

Hi Aaradhna how are you doing? So excited to know you are going on tour soon to share some music off your new album “Brown Girl” due for release soon.

Thank you, super excited to get back on the road and perform these new song! Plus I’ve got a new band and they’re cool boys, real muso’s and I love that and what they bring to the crew.

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Your career and your music has been such an inspiration to so many, back in your native new Zealand and of course on a global level too as your music and most importantly your voice resonates deep in the soul. When you sing pain or heartbreak, everyone can relate to it, when you sing praise and love, we come along on that lyrical ride with you. How you best describe who Aaradhna is and the music she creates, particularly this new album?

It’s the truth and its real, I don’t sugar coat anything, I sing because I have to, that’s my healing & thinking process, and I guess people can relate to that.

Your journey has been a work in evolution no doubt – looking back what would you say has been one of the greatest lessons for you as a woman and as an artist in this music industry!

Don’t give up! And that other people’s opinions of me is none of my business.

Your career has taken you all over the world, working and collaborating with people from all walks of life. What is it about the rhythm of life that appeals to you as a creative and how do you incorporate that into your music creation?

I go with the flow, I don’t chase anything, I let things happen in the order it’s supposed to happen, I don’t force anything, I try and just let it evolve naturally.

Can you share something with us that we may not know of you? Every person has a surprising lurking within them so what would you say is Aaradhna’s surprise?

I love Horror movies and ghost stories, and love hearing about haunted historic places in strange parts of the world, lol

Your thoughts on the soul music community today and the changes you feel it has undergone since you first started your journey?

I think it all swings back around, I’m and old soul and I’ve always loved the oldies, and also 90’s R&B, and that will always inspire me, I like the new stuff like Anderson Paak and people like that, but give me D’Angelo & Sam Cooke any day.

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The importance of women, for yourself, embracing their roles as sexual, independent and powerful beings as opposed to the over-sexualisation that social media has females portrayed with young women baring all for 15 mins of fame and 1000 social media likes rather than strong self-awareness and inner security?

Yeah, it’s really sad the social media effect on young girls, I want all ladies to love themselves and be strong for themselves, keep things a little more hidden and private and never reveal all of yourself for no reason, love yourself first.

What are you hoping to achieve personally and professionally with this new “Brown Girl” album and what’s next for you?

Well I’m launching this album in London, and I’m going to do European tour for the 1st time, I’m looking forward to going back to US and touring there, but ultimately I just want people to hear the album and enjoy the music.


Your greatest musical inspirations and why?

Singing at the Apollo in Harlem, because that’s the gold standard for Soul Music worldwide, and I did that last year, and still buzzing from that, I still have many things to accomplish, 1 step at a time.

Your constant motivation in life and why?

My family, my fiancé, and my fans, I keep going for all of them…… (and of course myself xx)


For more information of Aaradhna visit:





Her Australian / NZ Tour ” Introduction to Brown Girl” this June 

brown girl tour


Hip Hop and Beyond

Ms Hennessey

Meshell Ndegeocello – An Artist of Conviction


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She is one of the most prolific singer songwriters in the funk, soul, jazz and roots genre and with a career that spans close to four decades having initially started in 1985, Meshell Ndegeocello is the truth behind the origins of the neo soul and spoken word artistry. Born Michelle Lynn Johnson in Berlin, Germany and raised in Washington D.C, Ndegeocello adopted her surname at the age of 17, which means “free like a bird” in Swahili. And freedom of expression being her greatest banner, the multi-talented musician (bass, keyboards, drums, guitar) has worked with everyone from John Mellencamp, Madonna, Chaka Khan and Herbie Hancock to name a few sharing her talents as a rapper, bassist and singer across a range of musical projects.

Achieving her first foray of musical fame with the cover of Van Morrison’s “Wild Night” (a duet she performed with John Mellancamp) in 1993, which reached No 3 on the Billboard charts, this was closely followed by her solo penned hit “If That’s Your Boyfriend (He Wasn’t Last Night) in 1994 and secured her as an artist to watch. Over the years her discography grew in depth and number, from 1993 to 2014, having given the soul genre true gems of work in albums like ‘Plantation Lullabies’, ‘Comfort Woman’ and ‘Devils Halo’ to name a few. Amassing a legion of fans hungry for her powerful lyrics of love, self-expression, ownership and world issues and bore the activist in Nedegocello. She has become the unofficial flag bearer of issues concerning Aids awareness, women’s empowerment and gay rights having contributed numerous musical projects with the likes of U2 and written works in the form of an essay anthology It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living and her music has featured in scores of movie soundtracks such as; How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Batman & Robin, Love Jones, Love & Basketball, Talk to Me, Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls and The Best Man.

Meshell Ndegeocello is sans the glitz and glamour that belies many an artist in the music industry today. She has never been about the trappings of wealth, fame and fashion, rather opting for a less lofty lifestyle, paying attention to the real blessings in life, the love of her family and the joy of her infinite craft and artistry in just being her. She is an artist who walks the walk and talks the talk, shares her deepest innermost self when creating her music and is unapologetic in her authenticity in life and as a relevant and necessary recording artist in today’s musical canvas. I have been a fan of Ndgeocello’s work for many years now, losing myself in her intricate melodies and powerful prose and feeling nothing less that empowered and inspired after listening to her music. This interview is a brief glimpse into the beautiful soul of this free bird of an artist and one that I am truly proud to share with my readers and her fans alike.

Meshell Ndegeocello pic 1

Hi Meshell how are you doing? Thanks for your time in doing this interview…

Hi Maxine. I’m well and hope you are too.

Your career and your music has been such an inspiration in my journey and countless others as your songs resonate deep in the soul. When you sing pain or heartbreak, everyone can relate to it, when you sing praise and love, we come along on that lyrical ride with you. How you best describe who Meshell Ndegeocello is and the music she creates?

I don’t think I do. I feel very different than what gets reflected back to me. When I sing about pain and heartbreak, those things are really happening, they’re really hurting. It’s hard to always see those songs as inspirational or comforting because they are often really hard for me to hear or sing. I really just listen for the sounds to come, wait for the transmission, and when it does, I try to faithfully express it.

Your journey has been a work in evolution no doubt – looking back what would you say has been one of the greatest lessons for you as a woman and as an artist in this music industry!

That it only wants you as long as it knows its use for you. The industry is about money. There are a lot of music lovers and people who wanted to be close to creativity but being an artist and being a star are different choices. That’s the thing, I guess. I tell people I teach that you gotta be clear on which you’re choosing, cause they’re not the same.

Meshell-Ndegeocello 3

Your career has taken you all over the world, working and collaborating with people from all walks of life. What is it about the rhythm of life that appeals to you as a creative and how do you incorporate that into your music creation?

I think all the travel actually makes a rhythm hard to feel. Jet lag is a real thing, touring is exhausting. When I am home I am my most creative that is where I have spaces to write and listen. But the travel and collaborating are exceptional, they have taught me so much and I am lucky to do it. I do it because it comes with the territory, at least now I do.

Can you share something with us that we may not know of you? Every person has a surprising lurking within them would you not agree? What’s Meshell Ndegeocello’s surprise?

That I am really shy? That I listen mostly to people talking – to philosophy podcasts and lectures about the earth. My secret is that I am not cool.

Your thoughts on the neo soul music community today and the changes you feel it has undergone since you first started your journey?

I don’t think there really is a community there. Neo-Soul, in my opinion, is not a thing. It’s a genre created where there was no previous genre. But I am not a believer in genres and I don’t subscribe to that one.

The importance of women embracing their roles as sexual, independent and powerful beings as opposed to the over-sexualisation that social media has females portrayed with young women baring all for 15 mins of fame and 1000 likes rather than strong self-awareness and security?

I think you said it all right there.

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What are you currently working on music wise you can share with us?

I am working on scoring and a presentation of music based around James Baldwin’s work. I am thinking about new music and considering recording some covers.

Your constant motivation in life and why?

I am still just trying to understand how we all got here.

For more information about Meshell Ndegeocello visit:





Hip Hop and Beyond

 Ms Hennessey

6 Question Chop Up with Perth MC Sirpit


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He hails from the West Coast city of Perth and represents a new breed of Australian hip hop artist with his cool and infectious hybrid of hip hop, dancehall, soul and afro hop fusion sound. Introducing Sirpit, representing Taff Dawgs Entertainment and on his grind as an up and coming independent artist in the local hip hop community.

Having collaborated with some of the hottest producers and label in Perth such as Fireside Entertainment, Soul Sound Studios and Crank Studios, Zimbabwe born Sirpit is fast becoming an artist to watch in the Australian hip hop scene. Relatively new to the game having laid down his first recording in November of 2013, that hasn’t slowed down the talented African Australian hip hop artist from cultivating his craft and creating a sound that is unique and original. With standout tracks “ Chose Up”, “ Juice Back” and “ Laying Low” to name a few, Sirpits solo and collaborative discography continues to gain momentum, shining a light on this talented and driven young hip hop artist whose journey is just beginning.

Hi Sirpit great to connect with you – how are you doing?

Hey I’m well thanks for asking.

Can you tell us a little bit about Sirpit, who he is as an artist and how you would best describe your hip hop to the greater community?

The best way to describe my style of hip hop is energetic.

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Who would you say is your greatest influence / inspiration in your musical journey thus far and why?

Music wise my greatest inspiration would have to be artists such as Kanye West & Lil Wayne, with a creativity and sound that is unlike many others it is inspiring to think of what can be achieved with different genres and samples. Their confidence and ability to market themselves business wise is something I admire!.

What are you currently working on right now – current music, tours, collaborating?

This week I released a track with local Perth artist Kingz and US artist Kamoshun and I’m in the kitchen currently working on a few collaborations with some local artists.

When did you first fall in love with Hip Hop and how has it changed your life since then?

Growing up in Zimbabwe my first exposure to hip hop was from my brother playing it in primary school, with the sounds of 50 Cent blaring from his bedroom. My love for hip hop has changed my life in a negative and positive manner. Socially there is a perception that spending time doing music is an indication you aren’t goal orientated and are not serious with life. This can sometimes have an effect on your motivation as it feels like you aren’t supported. Through hip hop I have found a way to get my message through to other people who have been in or are going through the same situation that I have passed through in life.

Getting to express myself on a track through my own creativity is a rewarding experience.

If you could be a hip hop superhero, who would you be and why? 

Except of course being myself, Sirpit, who wouldn’t want to be P Diddy. A hip hop mogul, businessman and artist. He understands the concept of music marketing, management, branding and image and executes it so well that the empire he has built will leave a lasting legacy.

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For more information on Sirpit visit:




Always Hip Hop

Ms Hennessey

( Images 2 of 3 by Sarah Grundman )

Matuse Peace – Sydney’s Spiritual Gangster


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He has coined himself as the Spiritual Gangster in the Sydney hip hop community and has been gaining the attention of local and national fans with his unique brand of socially conscious hip hop with a higher purpose.

Representing the creative nuances of both the film and music worlds, Matuse is a multi-talented solo artist who conveys the struggle of the people and their stories through his authentic style and brand of Hip-Hop. With a variety of solo and collaborative music projects available, Matuse has raised the bar for what it takes to be an original, brave and passionate solo artist on the hip hop industry. He defies convention by creating a musical canvas that could be labelled anywhere from personal, provocative, opinionated and at times controversial.

From his political hip hop project Third Eye King as part of the duo Matuse and Kasi, to forming part of the Sydney vs Everybody movement to his own upcoming solo release Songs for H.E.R EP, under the alias Tusey, this is an artist whose mission in hip hop is just beginning.

As an actor Matuse has built an impressive body of work having featured in the Australian prime time TV series, Underbelly: The Golden Mile, and in the movie Cedar Boys which secured him as a creative to watch. His earlier foray in the world of TV film was a feature in the short film Between the Flags which saw him take out the Best Male Actor gong at 2007 Trop Fest Short Film Festival.

2016 brings forward a deeper level of expression for the hip hop artist, international actor, writer, motivational speaker, poetic artist and visual artist as his creativity evolves onto a greater realm where poetry, art, music and political awareness fuse into one.

Hi Tuse – great to connect with you – how are you doing?

Peace & blessings, I’m doing very well!

Can you tell us a little bit about who Matuse is, his music style and what his overall message is in this hip hop game? 

I guess Matuse is an artist in its truest sense. I just connect with different forms and mediums of art and allow my inner self to flow via consciousness in creating something from music to paintings, acting to writing. My style of music varies and I like to switch it up. The idea of being pigeon holed or told what you can and cannot do doesn’t fit well with me, to the point where I don’t even really classify my music as rap or hip hop but rather Poetry Over Beats. My message is diverse but is heavily grounded in spirituality and progression. I make music that reflects the human experience & condition – so undoubtedly it’s very diverse both sonically and vocally.

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What are your perceptions on Australia’s urban music community and how has it embraced you and the sound you are creating with a career that is gaining positive traction with every release you make?

The urban market in Australia is rather small and reasonably young and dumb so to put it. It has gained a lot more attention and credit over the years but it has a long way to go. My experience has always been two fold within the Oz urban demographic… I get lots of love but I also don’t get a lot of support out here for various reasons. I relocated bases to New York for both my music and acting amongst other things and I’ve found over the years that it’s about seeing yourself as an international artist with a greater world view. I think a lot of talented Sydney artists have been giving me props for years in regards to my freestyles and my music & it’s a blessing to be recognised for the abilities The Most High bestows.

Who would you say is your greatest influence / inspiration in your musical journey thus far and why?

My inspiration is usually my life experiences, be it people I meet along my travels or experiences or even landmarks. I tend to tap into my subconscious and let the energy flow.


What are you currently working on right now – current music, tours, collaborating?

I have just released Songs for H.E.R EP, under the alias Tusey, and I’ve been working on shooting visuals as well as collaborating with other artists while I’m still in Sydney.

When did you first fall in love with Hip Hop and how has it changed your life since then?

I fell in love with Hip Hop years ago when I was around 12 years of age. It was initially 2Pac, Bone Thugs N Harmony, Nas, Ice Cube, Master P… I fell deep into the music and its powerful capability to tell real & raw stories. What really caught me was the usage of language and rhyme, the poetic techniques always impressed me so much and it gave me a genuine outlet to release my thoughts, feelings and ideas in such a creative way, for a troubled teen that had no other outlet, it definitely gave me a release.

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You are also an avid artist, sharing some of your unique artworks on social media of late. What is it about painting that ignites your spirit and what do you hope people gain from looking at your finished pieces?

I consider myself a renaissance man – I’m not a rapper or actor etc. I’m a spiritual gangster, a traveling stranger – I’m a human on a journey and I love to express that journey through whatever means I find drawn towards. I just trust in my inner artist and don’t let society mould what I can and cannot do. I feel the same connection with drawing that I do with writing – it’s all one form of expression. I hope people can look into the pieces and find their own meaning just like my music & gained some form of insight that leads to reflection & connection to the common human journey.

If you could be a hip hop superhero, who would you be and why?

I would be an anti-hero…Targeting the world of whack & negative rappers … Most artist are too concerned with their own come up that it’s at any expense.. Even to the detriment of the same audience they are representing. As for a superhero name… Probably be Vendetta.

( All images supplied )  

For more information on Matuse Peace visit: 




 Always hip hop

Ms Hennessey

Dan Hu – The ARTistry of Hip Hop


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Hip Hop and art go hand in hand having enjoyed a symbiotic union since the music genre was first created. Whether it be through the power of graffiti art, street art, canvas expressions or portraits painted of hip hop icons, art is the cornerstone of the urban culture.

Introducing Dan Hu, one of Sydney’s newest and incredibly talented visual artists who has taken the humble vinyl record and given a fresh spin to the meaning of Hip Hop art. He calls his work “Art on Wax” and it is fast becoming one of the most sought after and coveted pieces by hip hop lovers not just in Australia but internationally. First coming to most of the community’s attention at the 4 Elements Hip Hop Festival held on March 19th at Bankstown Art Centre, Dan’s pieces have created a groundswell for the hardworking multi-faceted artist with supply and demand proving well and truly that he art has mass appeal.

The French-born artist, originally meant to pursue a career as a hip hop dancer, but with a segway that life often throws into the best made plans, Art on Wax is fast becoming Hu’s greatest blessing realized. With various Sydney cafes’ and small businesses getting their hip hop vinyl art fix, don’t be surprised if you see his original pieces popping up all over the country soon. I am excited to write about this unique and forward thinking artist and allow his journey to serve as inspiration to the many budding artists out there with a love for hip hop and enhancing the artistic arm of the culture in an original and positive light.

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Thanks so much for your time Dan, I truly appreciate it. How has 2016 treated you thus far?

The pleasure is all mine, thank you for your interest regarding my vinyl craft Maxine.

2016 has been a pretty good year so far I must say. My records seem to get noticed a little more every day and I’m getting busier at what I truly enjoy doing the most. I couldn’t ask for much more, 2016 has made me a pretty happy man. Thank you for asking.

Your artwork is something that is truly unique and symbolic of the art of Hip Hop given that you created profiles of some of the most iconic artists in the Hip Hop / urban music umbrella on vinyl. Everyone from Jay Z, Ice Cube, Nina Simone and Bob Marley have been captured perfectly out of vinyl and make a piece that is both striking and symbolic. How would best describe what it is you create and what you enjoy most about the process of creating vinyl artworks?

I call my art work “ART ON WAX”, even though it’s really “through” the wax… The very first thought behind my creations is to give forgotten old records a second life. Ironically, I cut them, so much for a second life, haha. The concept is to translate a design or silhouette through the vinyl, while keeping intact the remaining groove of the LP.

I am not too sure what it is about LP’s but I just have this fascination about them since I’m a little boy. I find them “warm, mystical, sensual, even sexy” hahahaha. Is this a weird thing to say about Vinyl’s? hahaha… As cliché as this is gonna sound, I truly enjoy the whole process of the creation. Even if there is a pure satisfaction when I get to the framing part, the little noticeable improvements that i observe while working on each new piece is extremely satisfying… Some sense of achievement which feels real good.

Marvin Gaye - Dan Hu

How does inspiration come to you and how does the world itself play a part in your creative process?

Each new piece inspires me for the next… There are so many artists linked to the memories I’ve made through my 20 years around the world that I don’t think inspiration has ever gone quiet so far. I can find a way to cut and give tribute to pretty much anything that has made me smile in the past. I have mostly focused on singers so far as, as dancer teacher, music fills a major part of my every day.

My clients add on to the inspiration. They either come with a specific design, or simply an artist name. I then do my homework and suggest whatever I think would come out great through the vinyl. I’m getting to be as free as a child with the design, it’s pretty awesome.

What is it about being an artist appeals to you so and what or who encouraged you to take the first step in your artistry?

To me, being an artist means breaking free from “life” and let your inner child speak. As a grown up, we kinda attempt to shut down this young spirit we all have within and think more radically because “life happens”…Years go by, responsibilities add on and we often forget to take time in order to reconnect with our own selves. What appeals to me in being an artist is the opportunity to communicate with “me” (I hope I aint losing anyone here, haha). We’re all kids, age truly only is a number…

My vinyl art was born after an unfortunate incident. I use to have a couple of 78 rpms on my bedroom wall and one of them fell and chipped off. The idea of chucking the vinyl in the bin wasn’t setting quite right with me so I decided to smash it even more and make something creative with it. I framed it and posted a picture on social media. Feedbacks were pretty awesome and someone suggested I should make more for sell… I gifted that very first one and then got down to “bin’ness”, haha… Today I don’t smash records no more, I attempt to cut them smartly, hahaha.

Jay Z


When you are in your creative zone what keeps you motivated and do you have any particular rituals or music that inspires your artistic flow? What are your favourite musical artists / songs and why?

Anything vinyl keeps me motivated, I just cannot explain that obsession, hahaha… The process, seeing the shape of faces happening as i cut the record is exciting. The idea that my work could be notice by the one being crafted or simply the idea that someone will like it, buy it, hang it and look at it every day is quite motivating itself really. Now I don’t think I have a particular ritual, but I gotta have some good tunes playing out loud (yeah, out loud, to cover the bad singing that goes with it, hahaha…)

Favourite artists? Oh boy… Forgive me for giving you such answer, but I listen to so many different kind of music. Disco/Soul/Funk/House/Salsa/Brazilian music/Hip-Hop/RnB/Pop/Folk, I could go on… I’m pretty eclectic really. My playlist goes from Joni Mitchell, to Guru Jazzmataz, round Celia Cruz, back to Jamiroquai… Heaps of Stevie Wonder, the Salsoul Orchestra, Janelle Monae, Erykah Badu… I love a good bass line, a peculiar voice, a great sample, blissful harmonies… You know, good music like, haha. Best personal discovery this year: YUM YUM, these guys are simply the bomb!

OK, first favourite five in mind:

  • Amy Winehouse: Her albums are just pure gold! “Woke up alone” is a track that moves me every single time.
  • Donny Hathaway: I wouldn’t even know where to begin! The guy was a musical Genius in my opinion.
  • Nikka Costa: That woman got soul!!! She truly sing from her guts! I am hooked since “Like a feather”.
  • Stevie Wonder: I started to learn English by myself with his “Innervision” album. I was 12, I had no idea what I was singing, but I knew the songs by heart, haha
  • Jamiroquai: “Return of the space cowboy” album is my favourite of them all. Amazing Bass line through the whole album.

Where are your collections currently featured at the moment? (Art Galleries, Museums, Public Spaces) and what is the general public feedback on your works?

At the moment, I only have two frames hanging at “The Record Store” in Surry Hills (Ice Cube and Jay Z). I am currently in touch with another 3 CBD venues who are interested in featuring my art work. I can’t say too much just yet as nothing has been confirmed, but I’ll hopefully be able to tell more very soon on social media once it’s all organized.

Well, the general public feedback is showing me that I should keep on doing what I do – I get a lot of WOWs and very nice compliments which is flattering. It’s especially truly motivating for me to carry on doing something that pleases me very much. So hopefully I’ll be keeping at it for many more years to come.

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(Dan Hu Artistry hanging in Brekky Art @ 379 South Dowling Street Darlinghurst )

Where can the international public purchase your beautiful works and follow your creative process?

At the moment, my artwork is mostly displayed and available for purchase on social media. You can check my vinyl creations or contact me directly either via Instagram: danhuartistry or my Facebook page: Dan Hu Artistry. I’ve been pretty busy “making” so far and haven’t had much spare time but a “Dan Hu Artistry” website should also take place in the next few months.

You originally hail from France, which is renowned for producing some of the greatest creatives and artists in the world. Would you say that historic patronage to your artistic native land lend itself to you during your won creative journey at all? How would you best describe the Hip Hop art community in France and what do you think is your point of difference from every other artist out there?

Well, I actually left my native land almost 20 years ago. I’m not sure I can thoroughly answer that question, but allow me to tell you briefly about my journey…

I was born and raised in a tiny village of 700 people in France. My parents were farmers. At the age of 17, I had the greatest desire to travel and I scored myself a hospitality job in England. This was the first stop of many across the world for about 14 years til I decided to settle in Australia in 2011. I had studied hospitality business back then and was very far away from any kind of creative “anything” really. It’s only 3 years later, in Switzerland, that I discovered Hip-Hop and fell for it in an instant. From there on, all I really wanted to do was dance, which I started the following year, once I had moved to Ireland. Hip-Hop wasn’t really big out there but Salsa was living strong and it became my breakfast, lunch and dinner for over a year. Another few months later, I was representing Ireland at the world Salsa congress in Miami. I then kept on travelling and spent some time in London, Cuba, Senegal, India, NY, LA, Tokyo to name a few and trained as a Hip-Hop dancer.

Yes, I do believe that my French heritage has something to do with my uncommon handmade craft, but I think it is mostly my journey around the world that has inspired me the most. The mix of people, culture, music… Travelling around the world open your minds on so many different levels. Everyone should be travelling in their 20s and see how good and bad it is “next door”… I unfortunately don’t know much about Hip-hop culture in France as I’ve been gone for quite some time now, but we’re very loud and outspoken people out there. I love visiting Paris and wander the streets or even spend the afternoon near the Eiffel Tower at the Trocadero. Last time I was there, about 20 guys were practicing roller skate dancing, that was pretty awesome to watch. The Hip-hop culture is very strong in Paris, undeniably.

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What do you hope is the feeling that people get when they look at your incredible pieces?

Incredible pieces?!!! I think you just caught me blushing right here, hahaha… Thank you for your kind words Maxine! You know, I just do my thing and only hope that people sees or feel the soul and love behind the art piece, as I spend quite a few hours on each record. We all have “idols” which we admire for a reason or another. If I can craft a beautiful frame which makes “you” feel good by just looking at it, I have reached my goal. Now imagine if that same frame is hanging in your home and you can see it every day: my work will make you feel good on a daily basis and that to me, is just awesome.

Your motto in life?

“Be fresh, Be good, Do you!” Travelling around the world has taught me kindness, respect, courage and drive. We live in an era of fiction and overwhelming diversity. There are so many options for everything that we spend our time trying to make choices. Everything is plastic and common, photo shopped to perfection and I shall not mention what goes on TV… “Be fresh, Be good, Do you! Turn off your television, close down your phone applications, listen for your calling, smile at your neighbor, give, and hustle… Only then can you truly find happiness and peace of mind. I ain’t saying it is that simple, but it kinda is…

In 2002, Lauryn Hill was recording her second solo album with a very vivid heart and spoke these words: “Fantasy is what people want but reality is what they need”… I love this quote, I find it extremely relevant and very powerful. Great, great motto when life gives you lemons and you don’t know what to do with it.


Sydney venues showcasing Dan Hu’s “ Art on Wax”

Rosie Campbells Caribbean Restaurant – Surry Hills

Breakky Art – Darlinghurst

Venue 505 – Surry Hills

Stevie Wonder 

For more information on Dan Hu and his artistry visit:





Always Hip Hop

 Ms Hennessey

A Conversation with Royce Da 5’9 on Conquering his Demons, Revealing his Layers and having fun with Hip Hop again!


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Since he first burst onto the hip hop scene back in 1998, Ryan Daniel Montgomery aka Royce Da 5’9 of Detroit Michigan has become one of the most underrated, respected and revered hip hop artists of the hip hop community. With a lyrical style and flow that is unsurpassed and at times uncomfortably raw and true, Royce has indeed solidified himself as one of the hardest working and authentic lyricist’s of the hip hop industry and with the release of his 6th studio album this month called Layers, Royce has upped the ante another notch by gifting us with his most honest body of work to date.

Since he signed his first record deal in 1998 with Tommy Boy records which eventually led him to Colombia records and the recording of his first album Rock City (Version 2.0) which was released in 2002 and went on to give Royce major underground recognition and of course kick-started the long running collaboration between he and DJ Premier on the Primo produced single Boom off that debut album. A six album discography later and Royce Da 5’9 feels now is the time for him to share the personal side of a man, whom as an artist, battled with vices and demons almost to the point of self-destruction and he proudly celebrates his 4th year anniversary of sobriety in September this year, with that conviction came a major awakening and sense of clarity for the rapper. He states that his current album Layers is his most personal and has come about at the perfect time for the more mature lyricist to finally shine some light on the man behind the rapper, his views, his past and even as far back as his childhood as fans will experience on his Tabernacle track, Royce has left no stone unturned in this almost therapeutic album.

From his strong bond and friendship with fellow rapper and Detroit native Eminem, whom he only refers to as Marshall, to his union with underground hip hop sensation Slaughterhouse and his successful collaboration with friend and mentor DJ Premier in their various projects from Prhyme and beyond, Royce is an artist that has never stopped respecting the foundations of a hip hop culture that helped carve him into the incredible talent he is today. He is also an artist that is encouraging of the forward movement and evolution of the genre he steers to becoming something the younger generation continue to keep relevant and poignant in the greater music industry. He has stopped the angst and war of words of his earlier years and is embracing the grown, wise and secure family man he has become, kicking out his heavy drinking and partying and replacing with music that is both personal and necessary to his artistry and to hip hop.

The following is a conversation that flowed effortlessly, speaking about what was, what is and what will be in an exchange that was honest, insightful, funny and real. Royce Da 5’9 is sans the celebrity and hype that shrouds our hip hop artists all too often, instead opting to be present in the moment of his own evolution from extraordinary rapper to one of the most powerful lyricists of our time, without ego but with a certainty that his music and message will remain a necessary part of hip hop no matter how many Layers he continues shed in the process!

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Hey Royce, so awesome to speak with you – how has life been treating you?

Hey Maxine, thanks for having me. Man I can’t complain, life is good and I am doing great. If I nit-pick I can say that I would like a little bit more time with my babies but at the end of the day this is what I signed up for right so I am blessed to keep doing what I do. Man I stay busy which is a good thing as it keeps me outta trouble I guess (laughs).

You are a pioneer in this hip hop game hands down, you have put in the hard yards for years and have always kept it 100 percent real, regardless of feelings being hurt, when it comes to what and how you spit. You are many titles to your fans and critics alike but I would love to hear who Royce Da 5’9 as an artist is to Royce Da 5’9 the man and is there any separation between the two?

Thank for you that. You know what there’s less of Royce the 5’9 artist in me today than when I first started I can honestly say. I am working on bringing more of Royce the Man into the artistry side of me in recent times, especially on this new album Layers you know. There is a real sense of retrospection that is being ushered into my music now, what I right and say is more personal and reflective of my life and especially my childhood. This new album is by far my most personal body of work, being a full blown scope of who I am as a man, what some of my views are and so you are getting the full dose of Ryan Daniel Montgomery the man who’s calling himself Royce Da 5’9. There is still a divide though between the two, when I step in that booth I am the rapper, but when I head home to my family I am just a family man and I don’t get treated like a rapper, so its helps me to just carry myself between the two in the same vein. We are all regular people you know, aint no celebrity here, just a regular human being who loves to rap you know what I’m saying (laughs).

You have given us an incredible new album called Layers, major congrats on that. How are you feeling about the music you are making right now and these albums, in particular Layers? Why this personal body of work now at this stage in your hip hop career?

I appreciate that thank you. Ummm I would have to say getting sober had a lot to do with it. I will be sober four years in September so anybody who knows Royce will know that I was very forthcoming with how much I drank, I mean I celebrated Patron like I had a sponsorship with them you know what I mean, and it truly highlighted everything in my life at that time, particularly in my music. Becoming sober just brought all these memories back for me to that time when I was running around crazy, drinking and not really knowing who I was to where I am now and I just look at things so differently through my sobriety. Like the word we live in where people are gripped by terror and violence constantly, economic strains, Trump running for President and just trying to be a Black man in hip hop doing what he loves and trying to take care of his family, man I look at things so differently now and that will be reflected in my music. I also had all these memories of my childhood start to hit me that I hadn’t thought about in the 10 years I was drinking so I have been dealing with that component of my life which I felt was important to be added on this album, which is how the Tabernacle song came about. So yeah, it is what it is, don’t get it twisted though I will always love to rap just for sake of rapping and it is a layer of myself that I will never lose but I also felt it was important for myself as an artist to show my personal side and get it off my chest and if there is someone out there who is going through some things that my album might help then I have done my job as best I could through Layers.

Royce you have worked with many great names in your lifetime, namely Eminem, Slaughterhouse and no doubt the coolest collaboration in hip hop to date, DJ Premier. Energy is an important thing when an artist decides to collaborate with another as the outcome of that project is clearly indicative of what the initial vibe is like between one another. Can I ask what it has been about these particular collabos that have been concurrent and helped create some incredible music projects for hip hop? Particularly DJ Premier – you both work so damn well together – Pryme was brilliant by the way ;o)

I think it’s just being likeminded you know, we don’t just randomly collaborate. It’s about us having the same goals and respect for hip hop as well that has solidified the unified bonds we share as well. Primo and myself are two guys who are friends and share a common interest and respect for hip hop that has made our bond and collabo work you know, one of us if from an era before mine that I respect so much and we share similar vision and work ethic for the projects we work on so it’s a great experience when we create something different and we push each other a little differently which keeps us open. With Slaughterhouse, that was taking 4 emcees from different states in the US and bringing us together to give hip hop an underground feel that was so needed at the time and it worked. We didn’t really know each other personally or kick it before the group came to be so that was group brought together purely by energy, lyricist ability and respect for the rawness of hip hop.

Marshall and I, that’s easy, we were just two best friends running around hip hop and having fun as the young men we were at the time. Two guys outta Detroit and the only two at the time to get record deals, tour the world and do what no-one thought we would you know what I mean, we had some of our best times musically and personally back then and we worked well and had so much fun working together and we always have been. And that’s where I am right now in my life, I just wanna have fun with what I am doing, I spent so many years being stressed and on guard with things, always feeling I had to fight all the time to be heard and after a while you get tired of fighting and you just wanna be you feel me, so that’s a big thing for me now, positive energy and outlook on music and life.


You are a straight shooter and don’t pussy foot around topics or issues in hip hop or life that need to be addressed and it is within this honesty that is your greatest appeal to lovers of real hip hop. Standout tracks of yours that have truly resonated with me would be My Own Planet, Hip Hop, You Should Know and You Can’t Touch Me …. Thank you by the way for those tracks – they have gotten me through my own tough times. When you put pen to paper what fuels you to write the tracks you do and how important is the marriage of beat and lyric to you at that point of creation?

Thank you for listening to those tracks man I really appreciate it. I always just aspire to keep positive thoughts and feelings around me before I head into the studio and lay down a track, and if I don’t feel positive I try to keep myself or bring people that are positive and inspiring around me as that fuels me to create better. Like Mr Porter helped me out with that a lot and he would bring an energy into the studio that would light a fire beneath me and I would just be so ready to work and create after that. It’s basically just finding the inspiration, the mechanics of writing a rhyme and making it happen. You know sometimes I overwrite my tracks to the point where I have to find the best 16 bars I want to lay down in a track and keep the other words for other projects later on, I just love writing and creating so it happens often (laughs) …. I put no limit to it and just do the best I can.

Can I ask you what your thoughts are on the current state of hip hop and what you think are the pros and cons of the industry today as opposed to when you started?

I think we are in a pretty good place, um there’s a lot of good music being made, there’s also a lot of bad music being made and a lot of new styles being created and not the text book standard sound you would expect from hip hop so that’s a good thing I think. As long as hip hop is evolving and keeps changing forms and trying new variations from time to time that’ means it’s not going anywhere and that’s a great thing. Hip Hop will never go away, it will always remain but we have to keep it fresh and relevant and forward moving, we can’t be having everyone trying to rhyme like a lyrical sirpit and tear up the next emcee that’s no good as we need balance. When I think about the cons I would have to say there is not enough balance on the radio, the climate itself is a sedative to how the labels function and the labels are not functioning in a way that is conducive. They are not using their own instincts anymore but it’s all come down to numbers and how many followers the artist has and that is nothing like what I had experienced when I first came into the game you know. If I had label meetings I had to go in there and impress them with everything I had to make them hear my music and believe in taking a chance on me like I was auditioning for a record deal, now, they won’t even give you a shot unless you have social media buzz.

As far who I am listening to right now in hip hop I’m liking Anderson Paak’s album, Pusha T a lot, Kendrick a lot, Schoolboy Q is great, I pretty much try to hear everything new that comes out and of course I love my classic stuff as well, Kiss From a Rose by Seal is a favourite of mine too so yeah lots of different stuff. I’m getting older now too so my brain can’t be on ratchet mode all the time I gotta slow things down from time to time (laughs).

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If you could take 4 albums with you into the afterlife what would they be?

The Chronic, Thriller, Life after Death and any Stevie Wonder album – it’s that simple for me.


Your thoughts and feelings on all the musical artists we have been losing this year in 2016 – how does that affect you as an artist if at all?

You know what, it’s just really sad and truly it just makes me feel really old to be honest! You know how it is when all your heroes start dying you be like “am I really this age man”?? I don’t remember going through any of this when I was a kid and now all of a sudden they are upon us you know, Phife Dawg, Prince, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston – gone. That’s half of my childhood right there, half the 80’s just gone. It just makes me feel old and sad for real.

What would you say your role is in this hip hop community and how to you wish for your music and message to be remembered? 

I think my role now is to be an OG and to set good a good example and role model for the younger generation on the come up. I just want to continue to be true to the sport and y legacy to be remembered as one of the true lyricists in the game, I don’t need any trophy’s or trinkets but for the general consensus to be that I was one of the great lyricists of my time and to make age appropriate music and show my peers that’s is okay to age lyrically, its ok to do that. We are living in a time now where you know hip hop is like rock and roll in a way and we have to own that and not always feel like we gotta chase these youngens around all the time. Hip Hop is not just for the kids but hip hop is for the world and I would like for the kids to look at me and say I wanna be like Royce!



For more information on Royce Da 5’9 visit:





Royce Da 5’9 Studio Albums

Rock City (2002)

Death Is Certain (2004)

Independent’s Day (2005)

Street Hop (2009)

Success Is Certain (2011)

Layers (2016)

Collaboration albums

Slaughterhouse (with Slaughterhouse) (2009)

Hell: The Sequel (with Eminem) (2011)

Welcome to: Our House (with Slaughterhouse) (2012)

Shady XV (with Shady Records) (2014)

PRhyme (with DJ Premier) (2014)


New album Layers out now on ITunes.


(All Images Supplied )


Always Hip Hop

Ms Hennessey