Phatchance – Inkstains Review/Interview

Today has seen the official release of Phatchance’s debut solo album, entitled Inkstains. As we do, allaussie hip hop has prepared a review of the album plus also some questions that we threw at Chance regarding his debut solo release, dropping via Obese Records Distribution. This project has been a real labor of love and features production from some of Phatchances’ closet mates including Adit (Horrorshow), Konfuzion, Akouo, Elgen, DJ Hoppa & One Above. It also features contributions from the likes of 360, Smiles Again (Mind Over Matter), Joyride & HR King.

Inkstains is 12 tracks deep, and comes in nice fold out cover. We must point out the dope foam CD holder and card diggipak, we all hate those plastic CD holders that break within a week of purchase. Phatchance describes Inkstains as a collection of moments that have shaped his life, and it’s this personal flavor that really had us listening time and time again. This is one album ‘joe blow’ could relate too. Stories of growing up, love lost, family problems  and alcohol abuse are common place in today’s society, Phatchance delivers on these topics with intelligent lyrics and killer beats, this album holds it’s own among the top releases of this year.

So you played the role of the man with many hats on Inkstains, what was it like recording mixing and mastering the whole project yourself?
Challenging and rewarding, it’s easy to be hyper critical while working on every aspect of a project, it’s also easy to prolong the process through laziness or stress, which unfortunately are both big vices of mine. In the end I actually had the project remastered at Studios 301 by a really talented engineer called Andrew Edgson, I’m super happy with the result, it’s always beneficial to have another set of ears put the final touches on the project.

You have been involved in the hip hop scene for what seems like a long time, has your contact book and previous experience helped in making Inkstains one of the year’s top debut releases?
It definitely helped, acquiring so many producers and rappers as friends I had a really strong contact base when going into the creation of this album, it also let me work in a really organic, friendly way, which is what I’m after with the music making process. I guess people will have to draw their own judgments in terms of whether this debut lives up to the hype, at the end of the day I’m happy with the final product, the rest is up to the public, music is such a subjective artform that I’m trying not to count any of my chickens until I witness public reaction first hand.

Lighter tracks such as Angles In My Ears and Inkstains (the title track) initially grabbed our attention, Phatchances presence on the mic throughout the whole album is solid. The Catchy Song featuring 360, Smiles Again and Joyride will prove to be a summer hit radio wise. Although it was with a few more listens that we really found Phatchance excel in those tracks with a little more depth. Mountain Of Glass, may divide some, but anyone who digs conscious hip hop will dig this.

The Catchy Song featuring 360 raises some interesting points on commercial music and radio. Where do you see the Australian hip hop scene and it’s future, in relation to the commercial sector?
I think that Australian Hip-Hop is slowly transforming from a small sub-genre of the Australian music scene to a primary part of the entire musical landscape. Whether this is good or bad for the quality of the music is, I guess, the big question. My biggest gripe with the proliferation of local hip-hop music through the media is the reliance on gimmicks, there’s very little room for alternative or more melancholy hip-hop to make a mark, particularly on commercial radio. This isn’t the fault of the artists but the fault of the media that foster that particular image of local hip-hop music, I think as the genre establishes itself more we’re going to see a much wider array of local hip-hop music in the public spectrum, which can only be a positive thing. With that said I enjoy happy summertime tracks as much as the next man, that song is as much an homage as it is an address, it’s all very satirical and light-hearted and to make that clear I thought it was really important to work with someone like 60 on it, who is also a close friend.

The title track Inkstains mentions performing live in front of a crowd, is this one of the more enjoyable process of releasing an album? You recently performed with The Funkoars what was that like?
I absolutely love touring, it’s one of the best parts of my life and I think I’ve clocked more than 25,000 KM’s in the past year traveling across the country to play gigs. The Funkoars show on the weekend was a lot of fun, it was all ages and in a place called Wangaratta, I had never even heard of Wangaratta, let alone did I realise we had fans in the area!

One of the clear stand outs, in this thoroughly enjoyable album, is the track Reflections. Featuring emcee Prime from South Australia, with production work from Horrorshow’s Adit. Phatchance and Prime both bring some raw honest hip hop on this track with verse’s that will tear your house down. Production from Adit is nothing short of brilliant. We were left to ponder the possibility of Horrorshow’s, Solo teaming up with Phatchance on a future track together, something we all hope to see. Some other tracks worth mentioning include I Don’t Know featuring Sam McNeill, Mountain Of Glass, Build It Up featuring H.R King, Angels In My Ears and Battlescars.

Now you worked with a lot of people on Inkstains, tell us about the track Reflections, how did you hook up with and what was it like working with Adit from Horrorshow and also emcee Prime?
Adit is one of my favorite producers in the country, we also grew up together and attended the same highschool so I’d been fiending for an opportunity to make a song with him. I can’t communicate how talented that dude is, in the one day we spent together in the studio he transformed the bones of that beat with some of the funkiest key playing I’ve ever seen. I have a huge amount of respect for Prime as a lyricist, that was one of the last tracks to come together on the album and I knew I wanted a feature on it, Prime was always in my mind as someone to get on the album so I’m really happy we could do that.

The whole album has a very personal flavor to it, Was it always your intention to go down this path or did it just evolve that way?
I think it’s important to write for the heart, I’m not strictly the kind of melancholy portrait the album paints me but when I sit down to write I want to write about things that touch me and for better or worse those things are often my personal problems. I operate under the knowledge I’m not the best rapper in the world, hell, I’m probably not the best rapper in my suburb. If I didn’t bring something new to the table there would really be no reason for anyone to listen to my music, I figure by trying to break down some of the stereotypes of local hip-hop music I’m offering myself the biggest chance to develop a supporter base, the whole process of writing is also very cathartic and has helped me get through a lot of things.

Phatchance lives and breathes hip hop, he raps about what he feels and what influences him, he loves sharing his stories, his passions and his hurts with all and he’s not scared to do so. Phatchance delivers with confidence, maturity and style. As he said himself he may not be the best rapper in the world, but its clear he knows his hip hop. This is a brave release, Phatchance really has taken risks with Inkstains, where others would have played it safe. It’s pretty difficult to be over critical of anything in particular. It may not be the cup of tea for some, but at the end of the day quality hip hop is quality hip hop.

If the quality alone didn’t win you over, I’m sure the free bonus disc that comes with Inkstains will, featuring fellow I Forgot, Sorry Crew members Coptic Solider and Mind Over Matter. This bonus disc comes with a decent selection of songs, and gives us a real taste of what the IFS crew are all about. Expect big things from these guys in the new year!

Now you have had some pretty kind comments from the Hilltop Hoods in regards to your music, has this added any pressure?
I wouldn’t say it’s added pressure if anything it helped me actually get the album finished. I’m operating under the assumption most of the album is probably not to those guys tastes, afterall many of the tracks are in a grossly different direction to the music they make, but since The Hoods formed the backbone of my musical education it feels great to have a wink and a nod from Suffa.

Will we see you performing around the nation with the I Forgot Sorry crew in the new year?
You better believe it, I’m currently booking a run of shows nationally for March, before then I’ve got spot shows under the NYE period and a spate of random performances before the end of the year. Next year I want to take my music everywhere that wants to have me, hopefully this album is received well enough to warrant that.

All in all, Inkstains is a top release. Phatchance has chosen well on the producer front and has collabed well with his sensible guest list. With crews of the likes of  Spit Syndicate and more recently Horrorshow – Phatchance, is clearly among the new school of Australian Hip Hop acts pushing for a more meaningful style of hip hop. With insightful rhymes, a truthfulness that will smack you in the face with a hammer plus a bonus CD freebie, how could you turn Phatchances debut solo effort down.  We rate Inkstains a large 4.08 out of 5.

Be sure to grab your copy from all the usual places.
Phatchances Myspace
Phatchances Twitter: @phatchanceau
JB-Hi Fi online order here.
Official Webpage here.