Big Daddy Bodine talks with Australian rapper Layla about her album Heretik, the Australian scene, topics she raps on, producing the album, comparisons between the UK and Australian scene, and more!
This is the year of reality for Australian Hip-Hop. Stragglers are left by the roadside like woodland critters while the strong are selling out racks and shows by the dozens. Coarse, aggressive, outspoken and armed with a flow that rides like a tram, meet the self proclaimed Heretik, meet Layla.
We aren't going to be wasting yet another interview on "Oh my god it's a FEMALE MC, you must be oppressed/intimidated/overrated (insert other bullshit lazy interviewer questions here)!" Let's get it out of the way from the jump, are there any of these over asked questions you want to address?
Nope done it all before…and thank you Brand, it's a refreshing change.
Okay now that we've got that out of the way let's talk about the album. Did you use "Heretik" as a presumption of how it/you would be received for your content and style?
No, I used it because I am a member of an elite and ancient underground witch guild and as a requirement of initiation, I had to stir society's cauldron.
Daza (Dazastah from SBX's Downsyde crew) handled the majority of the boards but I've seen you two in action at the lab, would you say it was a joint effort with you two feeding off each other to create the sound, or did one of you control the direction more than the other?
Yeah it was definitely a joint effort, I'd pick some of Daz's goose bumping beats, write to them, record myself then together we'd add bits, arrange it and find appropriate cuts etc. The master and his magic ears did control a lot of the techy shit, but the final pieces were products of Mrs. Yin and Mr. Yang.
You recently spent some time in the UK, Australian Hip-Hop is constantly (right or wrong) compared to the scene over there by North Americans. With what you saw firsthand what do you think?
I reckon Australian and U.K. hip-hop is on the same wavelength, but we do have a different sound which ventures through not only accents but subject matter as well. There's so many MC's with different styles worldwide but I suppose because we're two English speaking countries apart from America that has an ever increasing hip-hop scene that's why we get compared. The U.K. shit is ill I must say, the scene is buzzing there and I checked out a lot of dope shows.. But it's good to be home. Not that many heads over there know how killer our shit is.
Lyrically you, along with a majority of the SBX crew, attack politicians, oppression and other human rights abuse relentlessly. Tell us a bit about your decision to forgo the popular route in music of formulating hit for money and radio play, and act socially as an MC.
I don't think it ever was a conscious decision to bar off the 'formula'. In fact I've never really thought about whether we were doing that or not. Me and my brothers just write how we think and what we see, and maybe, as we eye from the distance we view what's really going on. Nah I reckon we just know the deal and aren't afraid to make different music. Change that D.N.A up… suppress formulated clones.
Heroin has been a plague on Australia's youth for decades and you attack the topic on the album. Was your inspiration general or personal?
Fatal pressures is personal, no two ways about it, but from seeing friends and associates be consumed by this devils advocate over the years, I also speak of observations I've made on how it engulfs people. Even now I hear of old crew I know still dropping off that shit. It's evil.
On a lighter note your brother took care of the artwork on your album and the comic book that replaces the usual lyrics/liner notes. Tell me about the comic and the inspiration for the artwork.
I don't actually remember my life up until several years ago. My family adopted me from a scientific lab after numerous operations and transformations were performed to make me 'normal'. The artwork reflects how I was discovered and my former being. Not many people know this information, please use of it wisely.
Over the last few years Australian Hip-Hop has taken leaps forward with natural accent crews receiving large sales and gaining legions of fans. Now that the seal is cracked do you think success will continue?
Nah using your natural accent is a just phase; give it a few months, maybe to the end of the year and oz hip-hop will die out for sure. I'm already practicing my twang…
A true entertainer knows when to be serious, and when to make a serious matter more digestible with humor. Serious as a heart attack and shock the good outta ya funny, Layla has arrived with a thunderclap to the respect of her peers and dismay of her critics. Heretik easily falls into my top ten albums for the year with production and flows you really just can't fuck with. Cop It, period.