By Gai Anderson
Rhythmn plus poetry equals RAP…
Take a group of young Hobart Rap musicians, mix them together with two fine composer/mentors over a year of development, to compose, orchestrate and score tmusic for a 12 piece TSO orchestra, and what you get is POWER HIP HOP -
A stunning life-filled, live performance that packed out the Peacock Theatre last Friday and Saturday nights.
Totally transfixing right from the start, these exciting new voices cut across genre, race, class, tradition and stereotype to perform up stage-front of the tuxedoed and be-pearled TSO, all in their best Rapper baggy jeans and T-shirts.
The music was beautiful, powerful, rythmic, never faltering, and as I sat there tapping my feet and listening in awe at the eloquence, focus and energy of these young performers, I wondered if I had ever really listened to the lyrics of Rap music before - Is it always so personal, political and heart felt?
And if the words were a treat, the orchestration, which ranged from subtle to scintillating , took the music to a whole other realm. Layer apon layer of strings, brass, wind and percussion combined to build on the simple rhythmns of the Rap to become filmic in intensity, and never distracting or detracting from the wired young stars so focussed up front.
The themes and styles of performance were as varied and fascinating as each individual, coming from a great diversity of racial and social backgrounds and traditions.
The Sudanese/Ethiopian/Kenyan performances were visually stunning and celebratory in feel whilst strongly based in the rhythmns of their dance moves. From the words of Guyot Guyot and Makueis Makue -“We dance our tradition till we see a dust storm. “ - to Lawrence Ginos and Steve Letikos’ -“ You and I stand up together “, their lyrics clearly expressed the need for freedom, tradition and respect.
In contrast, there was a definite angst-driven edge to the minor keyed songs of the Caucasians in the group, which were darker and defiant. But the subtlety of rhyme and placement of words within the bed of the music was often breathtaking and always inspired. From Lonergans “You rock the boat then the boat rocks back. “- to Burgess’ “ I despise those who discourage critical thought.” and Bladels’ “How can you ignore the globe going extinct?” - their messages were strong and clear and performances brooding and exciting.
Overall it’s a shame there weren’t more young women onstage but Yai Mario-Ring and Nyaandeng Guot, as the all dancing and singing assistants as part of Guyot and Makues’ Young Survivors, were spectacular exceptions.
POWER HIP HOP is the long nurtured and well-honed baby of Jami Bladel and Kickstart Arts. It is the fifth part of a six- year series of arts projects working with young people in southern Tasmania, which so far has including theatre, film and multi media. Kickstart Arts are a ground breaking Hobart-based Performing Arts Company who specialize in Community Cultural Development. They create transformative and empowering arts projects with integrity, which are socially inclusive and nurturing, celebrating difference whilst creating connections and opportunities for all participants.
Kickstart Arts as well as mentor/composers Don Bate and Simon Reid should be loudly clapped and cheered for spring boarding these new young talents into the world of professional music with a project such as this, but also for giving audiences such a great and inspiring night of entertainment. With only 3 performances I felt really privileged to see this show, so give us some more, soon, please!
Gai Anderson is a Cygnet based writer and performer.