Dan Hu – The ARTistry of Hip Hop

Lauryn Hill

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.

cafe gallery

(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.

Dan hu 2

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:

Email: danhuartistry@gmail.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DanHuArtistry

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/danhuartistry


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:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Royceda59

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/royceda59official

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/royceda59


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

Sydney Hip Hop Artist B Wise Putting in the Groundwork


Given the star that is fast rising behind this super talented emcee from Sydney’s Western suburbs, his humble and calm demeanour serve as a juxtaposition against the attention and praise surrounding his rise in the local hip hop industry. B Wise is an artist with a keen sense of what and how his style resonates the current climate of Australia’s local hip hop community and is a creative that has a clear vision for what his sound needs to be.

As with most artists, there is no overnight sensation story here, with B Wise (aka James Iheakanwa), putting in the groundwork for well over a decade, starting his journey back in 2005. For this proud Nigerian Australian, hip hop became a way of expressing a side of his persona that would go on to capture the ears of many with his catchy and clever hooks delivered on a bed of infectious locally crafted tunes. From his first single ‘Like You’ to the quirky follow up ‘Prince Akeem’ ( paying homage to his favorite childhood move Coming to America) to his collaboration with producer Nic Martin on the heralded ‘40 Days’ single.

Gaining major industry respect amongst peers and producers alike, B Wise continues to create and collaborate with some of the best producers and artists of Australia’s hip hop community, Nic Martin (360, Seth Sentry, Pez), Raph Lauren (Jackie Onassis, One Day), Momo (Diafrix), Pro/Gram (Bliss n Eso, Hau) and Colourd Noyz, to name a few. In addition to putting in studio time, B is no stranger to fronting up on the stage and performing to thronging crowds in the thousands having supported acts such as G-Eazy, Souls Of Mischief, Jackie Onassis, Diafrix, David Dallas, Kid Cudi, GZA (Wu-Tang) and The Cool Kids to name a few.

This is the beginning of a long list of ‘outta the ballpark’ hits this driven, talented and grounded artist will continue to make as his career gains traction and a follow ship of fans of feel good hip hop from an artist driven by positivity. It appears that B Wise may well indeed be the hip hop prince we never knew we needed!

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

I’m doing well thank you for asking.

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Really intrigued and excited about your musical journey so far. Can you tell us a little bit about B Wise, who he is as an artist and how you would best describe your hip hop to the greater community?

Me as an artist, I would like to say I’m an honest one, with a fairly different story to tell. I’m strongly influenced by my upbringing and experiences. I project a lot of it in my music and also what I see around me on a day to day. The best way to describe my music is I’m a Monday – Friday artist. The music I make is what helps you get through the working week or sets the mood before the weekend hits. I would like to think there’s always something relatable in what I put out.

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?

Well I can’t speak too much on the ‘urban’ community as I don’t make reggae, soul, jazz and all the other genres under that tag. I can say however, that the Australian Hip hop community is really thriving now, compared to the years I first started dabbling in music. There are so many artist from different cultural backgrounds like myself who are now contributing a more progressive sound and I love it. Due to some more established artist and the likes of triple J shining a light on what we have been coming with, the broader audience have received the work I’m doing well. On another note, I never imagined an Australian based hip hop act playing an arena on their own and just a couple weeks ago, Hilltop hoods played Acer arena in Sydney to over 12,000. Was a proud day for the scene.

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

There have been a couple over the years. But most recently I would like to say Kendrick Lamar. Been following him since 2011 and to just watch his progression and passion, the reality of bringing every one into his world. His story and his positive message always inspires me.

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

I’m currently working on my debut EP at the moment. You can expect that around the June/July around the same time I should be announcing a tour.

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

I first fell in love with it in about 1994. I was about 7 at the time. I heard ‘I get around’ by 2 Pac and it was all over then ha-ha. Still my favourite song till this day too.

I am a huge fan of your track Prince Akeem and love the music video that accompanies it. Is it true that it was made as a loose description of what you were told of your African heritage as a young boy growing up? Kind of tongue in cheek?

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Hah, yeah it definitely was true. It was a reference from a story my parents told me and my sisters as kids that our African heritage was of a royal one and it was a belief I carried for some time until my early teens.

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

I would be Snoop Dogg, cause he is the coolest man on planet earth.

For more information on B-Wise visit:


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UgottaBwise

Twitter: https://twitter.com/UgottaBWISE

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ugottabwise

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/ugottabwise

( All images supplied )


Always Hip Hop

Ms Hennessey

Sharnay Mkh – Sydney Slam Poet Spits Hometruths

Sharnay slam poet 1

Standing tall with the pride and confidence of a young Queen, Sharnay Mkh is an undeniable force to be reckoned with. The 20 year old slam poet, law student and tutor is breaking down the walls in the poet community with her honest, sharp, raw and powerful prose focussing on hip hop, youth, world issues and everything in between that deserves to be heard on this platform.

As the 2015 recipient of the Bankstown Slam Poetry Olympics, Sharnay wowed the crowd at the recently celebrated 4 Elements Hip Hop Festival on March 19th at the Bankstown Arts Centre with prose dedicated to the current political climate engaging race matters, world affairs and hip hop culture in Australia and the world. Highlighting the grittier edge to poetry than vintage Wordsworth, this student of Shakespeare and Hip Hop loves the fact that slam poetry reaches a more diverse audience and engages the younger fans of poetry to think outside of the box.

She is passionate, driven and determined to make a difference through the power of the spoken word and as she shares a small portal into her journey as a slam poet thus far, it is clear to see that Sharnay is only getting started in a role that is guaranteed to inspire and ignite the fire of self-expression in those who follow her!

Nice to speak with Sharnay – how are you doing? How old are you and the area of Sydney you represent?

I’m great, thank you. I’m 20 years old, and I represent the Bankstown area.

I was so excited to discover your incredible talent for slam poetry at the recent 4 Elements Hip Hop Festival – you were incredibly powerful on stage (alongside your fellow poet in crime Shalice). Tell us a little more about yourself and how you discovered the world of slam poetry?

I’ve been writing since I was very young, stories, poems and gibberish; it’s always been a ‘thing’ of mine. I never really experienced slam poetry, until I started you tubing in high school. It was cool to see a different medium where people expressed their most inner thoughts. I never really had the courage to perform. I went to a BPS slam that was presented at Western Sydney University, and from there I was inspired. I managed to pen a poem that very night, and the very next BPS slam I performed for the vert first time. This was in September 2015. I didn’t think it would be successful, but I managed to score enough points to be runner up to one of the loveliest people I’ve ever met, Iman Etri. That same year we managed to win the BPS Olympics, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am for meeting Shalice and Iman. When I’m not doing poetry, I’m trying to catch up on being a law student and a tutor.

You are a proud and beautiful young lady of Middle Eastern descent and command the stage and those that are on the receiving end of your poetry. This poetry is unlike what most of Australia’s greater public would be familiar with, as it is certainly more hip hop than Wordsworth. Can you describe your love of hip hop and how you combine with your love of poetry?

Well, first of all I’m a literature nerd. I like to read poetry in my spare time, but poetry is such a vast genre. It’s not just Wordsworth, Shakespeare, etc. Tupac, Nas, Biggie, Kendrick and Cole, they’re all poetry to me. I’ve been an avid listener of hip-hop since my uncles first exposed me to it, and it’s something I grew up with. The bars, the flow and the soul are in my blood. I try to combine them with my writing and performing. I want my words to leave a mark, and hip-hop has allowed me to do that.

How necessary or important do you feel slam poetry and its origins are for the youth of Australia in how they can express themselves and the issues they face on a daily basis?

Slam poetry is an amazing outlet. You’re angry? Write a poem. You’re sad? Write a poem. You’re happy? Write a poem. You’re in love? WRITE A POEM. Being able to tell your story through art is so important. You can change things for others, whether it is to make them happy or make them aware, poetry never fails in its aim of expression. Getting things off your chest is the greatest aspect of all.

Do you teach or run slam poetry workshops at schools or youth centres at all?

Alongside, my team members, Shalice and Iman, we have been running a program at two neighbouring high schools. Punchbowl Boys’ High School and Wiley Park Girls’ High School will be competing against each other in a slam at the end of this month. We mentor the students, we become an ear to vent to and we also help them become more confident with themselves and their expression.

Slam Poet Stage

Who or what would you say is your greatest influence / inspiration in your journey as a spoken word artist is and why?

My greatest influence would be my life struggles and my mother. I feel like I’m finally being heard. I’ve witnessed what it’s like to have no voice, and I never want to be in that situation ever again. My struggles mean I live to do better, feel better and want better for others. This is my goal as a spoken word artist.

What are you currently working on right now?

I’m working on my poetry and a fiction book, who knows? Maybe I’ll publish something soon!

Where can people come and see you or hear your work online or live?

At the moment, I do not have a YouTube. But my poetry can be found via Facebook.


You’ll catch me performing at BPS!

Your hope for your poetry and the message it holds for those who read your work?

Poetry is a versatile medium. Everybody belongs. There is no style, no ‘way’, and no compromise. I’ll leave a stanza that was adapted from Lang Leav below. The mantra:

“For the world has given you poetry

So you must give it your all

And most importantly



For more on Sharnay Mkh visit: https://www.facebook.com/sharnaymkh


Always Hip Hop

Ms Hennessey

Jah Tung – The Reggae Missionary


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His is a mellow and easy-going vibe with a sense of inner peace and a knowingness that his style, sound and purpose is that of a higher calling. Jah Tung embodies the essence of all the elements of spiritual Reggae, using his craft as the vessel for spreading positivity through lyrics and of course music.

Fast becoming a respected and sought after performing artist in Sydney, Jah Tung is amassing a follow ship of fans of his reggae, roots and  hip hop artistry since he first emerged into the scene back in 2013 with the release of the “ASD Mixtape” with All Systems Dread. As a fiercely proud independent artist, Jah Tung has identified with the lack of demand for reggae artists and the overall roots music movement in the community and has set about to infuse and create his sound and awareness of the importance and necessity of Reggae music to hold its own within the urban music industry in Sydney. Working with a plethora of solid local artists such as Smacktown, Soul Benefits, L FRESH The Lion and Matuse to name a few, Jah Tung has solidified his position as a respected reggae artist in the scene.

With an energy and positivity that radiates through his being as well as his music, Jah Tung is a refreshing and welcome addition to a growing and talented local artist roster. With the 2015 release of his “The Soulfood EP’ having put him on the map as a lyricist to watch, Jah Tung has a lot more than just an appreciation of reggae music to share with our community, but an overall message of unity and positivity that ultimately comes from the Most High!

Hi Jah, great to connect with you – how are you doing?

Give thanks for the opportunity Ms Hennessey. It is a blessing to keep the link with like-minded ones in this scene.

Really intrigued and excited about your musical journey so far. Can you tell us who Jah Tung is, your style and sound and what you hope your music will bring to the greater urban music community in Australia and on a global perspective?

I am a spiritual messenger on a mission to spread the word of The Most High, the word of truth, oneness and love. Jah (coming from Jehovah, Yahweh) Tung (tongue) is a name that holistically encapsulates my vibe and journey, not just musically, but in all aspects. I am a Rastaman, which, to me, means that I follow the natural order and believe in Oneness in all things, in accordance with the teachings of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I the First. I am a youth worker by day and a lot of my music is also aimed at the youth, as I acknowledge the responsibility and the power of influence that comes with the privilege of being a singer and player of instruments.

I see a lack of OVER-standing in regards to reggae in Australia, although it is currently growing rapidly, which is reflective of the social status and cultural awareness of the community. The sad truth is that Australia still has racism ingrained in its very core. Reggae music came from a time and place of cultural, spiritual and racial oppression and therefore is only now starting to truly be embraced by Australia’s masses, which I believe is due highly to the spiritual and cultural tensions being experienced in this country right now. The fact that after the initial Sydney vs Everybody release (Jan. 2015), people felt the need to address and even attack participants’ race, religion, fashion, skin colour and even accent, as opposed to their message content, skill, flow, delivery and sound, really highlighted the underlying issues. Again, after a performance only last week, I was confronted as I left the stage about whether I am Jamaican and why I am “hijacking” the Jamaican culture/language and using it for my advantage. This very idea that “a white guy singing reggae in patwah (patois) must be racist” is racist in itself and was never faced when performing and recording internationally or with Jamaican artists or other Rastas. Australia still very much suffers from a black and white complex and although the problems have existed for a long time, the real roots of these issues are only just beginning to surface in the last years and people, both locally and globally, are being forced to recognise Australia’s flaws and shortcomings. I strive to deliver conscious messages to break people’s misconceptions of race, faith, culture and of course music, one at a time. Truly a worldwide revolution a gwaan right now!

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What are your perceptions on Australia’s urban music community, encompassing the sub genres of reggae, hip hop, soul and so forth and what do you hope and foresee your role as being in this industry?

I believe, although there have been many greats over the years, Australia’s Urban scene is really only just beginning to flourish in its fullness. I am relatively new to the actual Hip Hop community, having only begun involvement around 2012, although perhaps the likes of Ernie Pannicioli would appreciate when I say that the spirit of Hip Hop has always been within. It was more about me recognising what Hip Hop truly meant, at a time where I could clearly see Sydney’s (even Australia’s) Hip Hop movement displaying unity and love across a range of mediums, sub-genres, fashions and vibes. The genuine Raspekt was extended to me same way, as I was welcomed into the movement, almost as an old, long-lost friend. I hope that I have, and continue to, provide valuable contributions of cultural, spiritual, lyrical and musical enlightenment to help complete the picture of Hip Hop down under, a picture that, I feel, is truly missing the backbone of spirituality and especially black consciousness, as well as the VITAL knowledge of its roots in reggae.

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

There have been so many influences that cross fertilise each other with inspiration that it’s very hard to separate them musically, spiritually, culturally, emotionally or intellectually. Musically, my first influence was Michael Jackson, as I used to dance before I could sing or play instruments. So the journey definitely began with MJ. Spiritually, obviously, His Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I the first is a cornerstone in my turning toward Rastafari philosophies.

And though all sources nourish and nurture each other, I must make mention of Akae Beka (Vaughn Benjamin of Midnite), an elder who, among many others, has been fundamental in the opening of my third eye and expanding of my consciousness although he would simply say “There are no teachers except for one’s own zeal to know…”

What are you currently working on right now – future EP’s etc?

I was blessed to record an album and even some music videos inna Berlin, Germany last year with the legendary Dirty Ragga Squad, which will hopefully be released soon!

I am also working on a mixtape of original “versions” on well known “riddims”. This means taking the familiar instrumentals and voicing my own lyrics and melodies on top from Channel One classics to modern hits by Chronixx, it will be a free downloadable mixtape full of big, recognisable tunes!

The best piece of advice you have been given and follow to this day?

Great question! Probably to keep a balance in all things. The duality of the Rastaman is that we keep the meekness of the lamb and the bravado of the lion! Too much meekness will see you trampled by the lions, losing the opportunity to connect again. Too much lion will stamp out the humility required to nurture the truth to the fullness. To know which situation require more lion or more lamb is the balance that we all strive to uphold. This principle can be applied to anything in life.

Any artist collaborations you are working on at the moment and if you could list your dream team of artists to work with who would they be and why?

Apart from the album with DRS which also features some local German artists, I have been continuing to collaborate with local Australian artists such as 316, RayJah45, Ras Bellyful and many more. I hate getting this question because inspiration comes in endless waves! I’ma list 10 cause it’s too hard to narrow down. 

*Akae Beka (Vaughn Benjamin of Midnite) – because NONE can come close to his lyrics OR his unfiltered, care-free, ‘non-performing’ delivery.

*Michael Jackson- need I explain?

*Quincy Jones- all-time favourite producer.

*Lauryn Hill- lyrical mastermind and one of my favourite voices to this day.

*Erykah Badu- just her entire vibe.

*Sly (Dunbar) & Robbie (Shakespeare)- well-known drum and bass section and composers.

*Protoje- lyrical mastermind.

*Kabaka Pyramid- lyrical mastermind.

*Ladysmith Black Mombazo- because I have always said that if I ever was lucky enough to work with these guys, I would probably happily retire from music with no further musical ambitions.

*Prince Ea- inspirational and humble poet.

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

Jah Tung! I don’t believe in this separation of greatness from man. I believe we are all divine Kings and Queens and that is all we need therefore I wouldn’t change a thing.


For more on Jah Tung visit:

Bandcamp: https://jahtung.bandcamp.com/releases

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/jahtung

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jahtung

( * All images by Christopher Woe)


Hip Hop and Beyond,

Ms Hennessey

6 Question Chop Up with Hip Hop Artist – NeeQ

He hails from Quebec Canada and now has calls Melbourne City home. Having being a part of the hip hop machine since the late 90’s, NeeQ’s influences range widely from French and American hip hop to Mauritian Sega music, which makes his sound and style a unique hybrid of culture and beat.

NeeQ aka Dominic Drouin, has been writing and producing his own music since a young age, and went on to be a firm favourite in the live music circuit in Canada with his own hip hop group known as the ‘Hip Hop Quebecois”. When the group disbanded, he went on to form a duo called NeeQ n Lucci and the pair came second in the regions Hip Hop Forever competition. For NeeQ, this win unearthed the performer in him and with his move to Melbourne thereafter saw him release his first solo album called NeeQ MusiQ and form a new hip hop group called Professional Underground.

Working his way up through the Melbourne hip hop scene as a relative newbie to eventually making his way on stage as support act to international acts such as Busta Rhymes and Ja Rule, NeeQ is an artist of focus, determination and tenacity to continue shining as an artist to watch in the Australian urban music industry. With a series of mixtapes under his belt, namely Coast to Coast and Play the Beat, which has been garnering him with a strong fan base thus far, the artist, who has signed with local label Holla Back has just released his new album Love on ITunes and is ready to evolve to the next level of his hip hop career. Read more about NeeQ and his journey thus far in our 6 question chop up ….


Tell us who NeeQ is and what makes your of brand of hip hop unique?

Well I’m an artist who loves to show energy in every possible way. Wether on stage or in your earphones, I concentrate all I have into making every piece of the music puzzle as perfect as possible. I blend the heart of the 90’s era with the wittiness of today’s hip-hop. My style evolved a lot from my early debuts in Quebec, Canada and I think is still getting better every day. My influences include French and American hip-hop, Mauritian Sega music which gives my music a very unique touch.    

How long have you been climbing the hip hop artist ladder and what keeps you motivated to stay in the game?

Wow, it’s always funny looking back on how long you’ve done this for because it never feels as long. It’s something that I love doing and is now a part of me. I can say I’ve been working on my art since 1999. I was in many groups and performed in front of thousands of people since 17 years old really. It’s great to see hip-hop evolve and take different directions the way it has, so my motivation is to keep growing with it! Music is universal and I guess this is my way to contribute to the universal language that simply makes people happy.

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Tell us what projects you have worked on thus far and what you are currently working on? Where can we hear you and find you online?

I have released a few street albums across the years as all underground rapper would. This included two albums and one huge collaborations mixtape project. My first released album is called “ONE” which you can still find on iTunes. The single “My Generation” generated over 12,000 views and got radio play across Australia and websites. My newest Album “LOVE” just released and already is doing great! I have had the chance to tour Melbourne and planning a lot more until the release of “I Am Machine” in the next few months.

You hail from Quebec in Canada and have recently moved back to Melbourne to continue you music career – what would you say have been the stand out differences in the hip hop music communities in Canada to Australia and what would you say are both strengths and weak points of both?

You know, the game is very close to the same wherever I seem to visit. Back home though, I would have to say that the full hip-hop community sticks together more. Everyone wants to work with everyone to elevate the movement as one. This creates spectacular, jaw dropping songs! In Melbourne, I find that the scene is a little bit divided and would all move a lot faster as one major movement. The talent here is undeniable so it would take no time to be recognized and a major world hip-hop contender. I mean this is a competitive business so healthy competition is always a great way to raise the bar and keep progressing in the game. No doubt!

When did you first fall in love with hip hop?

I saw the video clip to Snoop Doggy Dogg “What’s My Name” when it first came out on TV, and from then it was on. I actually purchased the tape and had to listen to it in hiding because I knew the content was not something my parents would’ve been use to. Ha-ha. I then went to see my first rap show in the basement of a church in the neighbourhood and saw what local acts could do with music. That’s sparked something in me and knew that it was something I would love for the rest of my life.

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What do you foresee your role to be in the Australian Hip Hop industry and how are you going to ensure your music makes the impact you intend it to?

I’m from Quebec, Canada and have been living in Melbourne as an Australian for over a decade now. I feel like my role is to bring the multiple hip-hop scenes together and help the Australian hip-hop movement progress even further in its world recognition. I haven’t stopped pushing and performing for this art since I landed in Australia and I don’t intend to. It’s all about getting the right following and using today’s media tools to get them. I don’t give up and will continue to use different avenues to reach my goals.


For more information on NeeQ visit:






Always Hip Hop


Ms Hennessey

A Conversation with Motown’s First A&R Man – Mr Mickey Stevenson


It’s a wonderful feeling to know you are speaking to a living legend of sorts. An individual who has, in his own infinite way, cultivated one of the most influential music labels of the century, Motown. Speaking to the iconic labels first A & R (artist & repertoire) man, Mr Mickey Stevenson, it is a guaranteed step back into the corridors of history into one of American greatest music success stories and one that birthed the music and sound of a genre, a culture and above all else a movement.

Mickey Stevenson is the consummate gentleman, old school and classic to his very core. As he shares some of his most exciting years as the man in charge of signing and developing artists like Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and Martha & The Vandellas to name a few, Stevenson also opens up about his early years performing with his brothers The Stevenson Trio from the age of nine, winning music competitions on stage at The Apollo in Harlem before meeting up with the man who would change the course of this budding singers path and hand him the fate as the creative force behind one of the biggest record labels in music history, Mr Berry Gordy. Stevenson and Gordy became a force to be reckoned with in Motown’s glory days, seeking, creating, shaping and defining the sound of artists that would become trailblazers of the RnB and Soul worlds, creating a steady stream of hit makers to soar up the charts.

Speaking to Stevenson about his time at Motown and working with the artists he was able to cultivate, it is easy to see that this was more than a job to him, rather a commitment to excellence and perfecting a craft that would indeed produce the excellence it did. His descriptions about the vibe and energy coursing through the vintage Motown recording studios is almost palpable, where you could almost imagine sitting and watching a young Stevie Wonder or Marvin Gaye create their magic before your eyes. It is a gift that Stevenson has, seeing the beauty in things, and one that he has utilised to his full advantage over his years where he has worn the hats of Mentor, Creator, Writer and above all else lover of music in its purest forms.

This interview was a definite tick off the bucket list for me and one in which I learnt so much from an individual that has so much wisdom and knowledge and joy to spread. Mickey Stevenson continues to give us life through his love of mixing history and music and bring it audiences today through his love of musical theatre and play adaptations. With a deserved star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame alongside his Motown family, a book that is sharing his journey to the next generation of music stars and a life filled with gratitude, rich memories and purpose, Mickey Stevenson is indeed a living legend!

Hi Mickey, so great to talk to you. How has 2016 been treating you so far?

I am well thank you and I hope you are too.

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A young Mickey Stevenson

Such an honour to speak to a man so embedded in music history – known and respected as the First A&R man of Motown’s glory days, a career that started back in 1959 and has helped created and bring to light some of the biggest legends in the music galaxy such as Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye to name a few! How would you best describe who Mickey Stevenson is and the life he has lived thus far?

Hahaha that’s a good question. Well I call myself a hunter. The best writers, producers, singers, engineers, I was always hunting for the best in these fields. You know it was a 24 hour job but to me it never felt like work, that’s the difference…. When you can enjoy what you are doing then it becomes bigger than just a job and you can do it 24 hours a day. I was in that intense mode and I loved every minute of it and finding people that would come to me say in an audition, they wanted to be a singer but when they sang the brought to me I would say “ Who wrote that song?” and they would say “ Me” and I would say “ I tell you what I’ll bring you in as a writer because you are not a singer”, and it would be things like that back then you know, some people would come with the whole nine yards but most often it would be one or the other. My job was to search for the gift that God has bestowed on these artists. These artists brought more multi talents to the table and there in turn we were able to develop the label so much more effectively and efficiently and that was great.

Let’s talk about those early days when you were signing all these incredible artists to Motown, all of them relatively babies in age and not knowing the amazing impact they were going to have on the music world – what was the energy like in the recording studios back then and just the artists various attitudes towards their artistry and place in the music community of the time?

In my book The A&R Man, I break it down very carefully on a few talented people so you could see all sides. Now when a few very talented artists would come in to the studio to audition, sometimes 30-40 people constantly, and that one person walks in that was worth that wait and blows you away you know what I mean. That energy was alive and when I hear the lyrics in their songs, it was truly indescribable the amount of talent and vision they all shared. My job was to put the best songs on the best people and it didn’t matter who wrote the song and wanted to sing it, for me, it was finding the correct piece to the vocal puzzle and it was that formula that made Motown as great as it was and made us all family.

Mickey Stevenson and the Lovetones

Mickey Stevenson & The Lovetones

More than an A&R man, you are also a celebrated songwriter and have penned some truly significant hits in the RnB world such as “Dancing in the Street”, which he co-wrote with Hunter and Marvin Gaye; “It Takes Two” (Gaye and Weston), “Ask the Lonely” for the Four Tops, Jimmy Ruffin’s “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” to name a few. What do believe it was that made these songs the timeless successes they are and what are the ingredients to writing the perfect song?

In all honesty when I write and I am sure this is for a lot of writers, I write from the heart. So I am not too concerned if the song is going to be a smash or anything like that, I am just in the moment and it will come out in whatever it is I am writing. When I write it comes from the feeling in my heart and before I hand it over to a singer I have to then decide who can deliver this feeling and now I got to pick that person and work with that person, so if I know that artist and their style it makes my writing job that much easier you feel me. The rest I leave it God, like I tell most writers, do all you can to your piece and then leave it alone, he will take care of the rest.

Looking back at your life in the entertainment industry Mickey and through so many different eras and trends in music, what would you say in your experience has been the most significant change that the RnB music industry has gone through since the Motown days and why?

I think the most significant change, which is odd, has been the marriage of the visual that is now drawn to the public. The visual gives the public more now than the lyrics did then, you feel me. It doesn’t have to be a great song to make you love an artist, it can be the way that they appeal to you, so I think the combination between visual imagery and of course the internet’s power and well there you go. Now I am neither for or against it but like I have always said, talents are given to you and it lies within your power as to how you use those talents and how you devote your time to mastering that talent. It is all different now, which is great, but it has definitely changed how artists become stars.

What is Mickey Stevenson doing today and what are your thoughts of the music industry as it stands today?

Well at the moment I am doing musical; plays and theatre, which is a great love of mine. I have some wonderful shows like “Singing from the Heart” which is the history of Billie Holliday, Josephine Baker, Lena Horne, all the great ladies of that era. You will love it. Smokey Robinson and I did some of the music together and it is just amazing. I love writing shows where history and music combine and thrive together so I write a few of those types of plays. And of course my book ‘ Motowns First A&R Man presents The A&R Man’ is doing great ( available on Amazon.com) and I have been offered some interest in turning it into a movie so I am thinking about it and I am happy about it all, things are looking good and I am very happy.

Mickey and Stevie walk of fame

Can I ask you what your working relationship with Berry Gordy was like and how you both got along in those developmental years of Motown?

I never came up in the RnB world, my influence was more of a pop background so I brought an element of light and sound and an almost live theatre type feeling to Motown and I was blessed that Berry Gordy gave me the freedom to use my gift freely. Our relationship was very special and I remember when we first met I had come in as a singer looking to be signed to the label. Berry was looking for an A&R man, which I had no idea what that was (laughs). During our first meeting I played him some of my songs and I thought he was digging them you know (laughs) so at the end I say to him “so which song shall we put on my first record”? And he looked at me like I was crazy (laughs) and says to me “record? Look I like your music man but your voice is shit”! Oh my gosh I nearly fell to the floor when I heard him say that ( laughs), but that was what we did you know, sought out the best talents in our artists and pushed their god given gifts to the forefront.

Mickey, Smokey & Berry

Smokey Robinson, Berry Gordy & Mickey Stevenson

What advice would you give to artists today that are wanting to become entertainers and be respectable music artists instead of one hit wonders?

My advice is you must make up your mind to absolutely devote the time to becoming great. You try it great, you will fall among the stars. Now to make that work you must know what you are doing with your time, be devoted and know that it will cost you but it will pay off in the end!


For more information on Mickey Stevenson and his work visit: www.motownsfirstaandrman.com



Buy Mickey Stevenson incredible book on Amazon.com or click here: http://www.amazon.com/Motowns-First-Man-Presents-The/dp/0692366334


Hip Hop and Beyond

 Ms Hennessey