While I’ve never considered Laurie Duggan to be his poetic generation’s equivalent of John Schumann, (the singer from 1980s political folk band Redgum, who joined up with Melbourne hip hop group The Herd to re-record ‘I Was Only Nineteen’), I think it’s also useful (and fun) to consider the possibilities of fusions between written Australian poetry and hip-hop forms.
I think it’s also fair to point out that the style of rap Duggan critiques as ‘like I’m being lectured to’ is a million miles away in style and context from the lyrical loopiness of your De La Soul, or the crossover legacy of your Paul’s Boutique-era Beastie Boys. Then again, if Ice T can come back as a police drama TV star, then anything goes.
While as an outsider I’m admittedly pretty weak when it comes to remembering the lyrics of Public Enemy’s ‘Welcome to the Terrordome’, I also know that the stylings of Chuck D (or, perhaps more pertinently to Australia, Michael Franti) can be heard today in the works of performance poets in Melbourne, a million miles away from South Central LA.
Consider the possibilities. For example, I’d love to hear De La Soul’s take on Laurie Duggan’s ‘Blue Hills’ sequence. I’m serious. Why not? I’d love to hear the Beasties take on John Tranter’s The Floor of Heaven, with the Dust Brothers on production. Come on, wouldn’t you kill for Salt ‘n Pepa’s version of Judith Wright’s ‘Woman To Man’?
Of course, when it comes to other rap and hip hop artists, we start to face some more interesting decisions. Given Nathan Curnow’s love of Kanye, I think that nothing short of an album of ghost stories featuring Mr West on vocals (complete with Cher button for the ‘Love Lockdown’ moments) would suffice. On the other hand, Paul Mitchell’s suburban blues could do with some Kanye soul, too.
Similarly, while I’m sure you’ll all agree that asking Beyonce to remix Jill Jones is the obvious and the right thing to do, I’d also like to flag the idea of a Destiny’s Child 12″ of Pi O’s latest, plus an M.I.A. mash-up of MTC Cronin’s collected works. Add Bobby Brown (taking a stab at John Forbes’ ‘Tropical Skiing’, obviously) and you’ve got trouble.
Or a deal.