Ozi Batla – Wild Colonial (Joey Smiles Review and Interview)

As a veteran member of some legendary groups, Ozi Batla has already mastered raps over The Herd’s accordion and guitar-layered live instrumentation, the reggae influenced beats of Astronomy Class and some futuristic trip-hop feature spots – but Wild Colonial is much more personal than anything he’s done before and listeners’ preconceptions will be challenged over the diverse soundscape of the record, which is sure to cement him as one of the finest wordsmiths in Australia both in terms of lyrical content and his exceptional delivery and control over the mic.
The concept behind the album becomes clear when listening to the title track. The sung chorus goes:

“He bade the judge good morning and he told him to beware, that he never robbed a needy man or one who acted square. But a judge who robbed a mother of her one and only joy, well surely he’s a worse outlaw than the wild colonial boy.”

The lyrics are reminiscent of Australia’s convict past and as Ozi Balta explains in a promo video posted on Youtube, “there’s a bit of a renegade aspect there that ties into hip hop… and I feel like I’m a coloniser of hip hop as well.”

DJ Bonez lends a hand for some memorable cuts on the album while Sandro handles all of the production credits for the 12 tracks, using a wide range of samples to create an interesting and cohesive sound. Sonically, the beats are as airtight as the raps. Songs like Joyride has an electronic melodic backdrop with a clean, chilled sound, while the humorous track She’s Gotta Have It sees Ozi Batla go back and forth between funky brass and flute samples about unknowingly falling victim to girls’ sexual advances. There’s also a sweeping backing vocal sample in Mics, Peeps And Light,’ keys and a great MPC beat on 1000 Drummers. Listeners might already be familiar with the banging lead single Put It On Wax that is currently on rotation on Triple J and the great lyric from the song:

“Video didn’t kill the radio star, like the DJ didn’t kill music made with guitars and the licences and cops haven’t shut all the clubs yet, yo check it, downloading music didn’t wreck it, the fans are more connected…”

Ozi Batla laments about the state of hip hop on Integrity, does some storytelling on 1000 Drummers and the moving finalé A Distant Shore, all in his distinctive, deep and crisp rapping voice. Unfortunately, Ozi Batla doesn’t show off his ability to rap in Spanish on the album as he has done on past releases, but this is redeemed by the singing on a few tracks, which he pulls off to great success. It is probably this accessible style of rapping and singing, accompanied with great production and cuts that makes the album so enjoyable, even after 50 minutes without any guest emcees.

Ozi Batla – Wild Colonial is now available in physical form and digital release on itunes. The digital release comes with a bonus second disc featuring all ofl the tracks in instrumental versions. You can grab that here.

Ozi Batla will be launching his Wild Colonial album on June 26 at The Annandale Hotel with support from The Last Kinection & The Tongue. The response to the album has been incredible so far – 2SER Album of the Week, Put It On Wax single peaked at #2 on triple j’s weekly most played tracklist. The accompanying music video has featured on Video Hits, Channel [V], RAGE & MTV.

What people have been saying about the record:
“Ozi Batla drops conscious, razor rhymes that alternate between thoughtful social commentary, amusing anecdotes and – shock horror – moving stories over pure, golden-era inspired beats that simply drip party funk.” – Scene Magazine
“Intelligent, sensitive, forward-thinking…” –  3D World
**** 4 STARS – Rave Magazine
“…Is sure to cement him as one of the finest wordsmiths in Australia both in terms of lyrical content and his exceptional delivery and control over the mic” – Bigger than Hip Hop (SYN FM)

Wild Colonial Album Launch
Sat, June 26 – The Annandale Hotel
Supports from The Last Kinection & The Tongue
$20 pre-sale | $25 on the door
Tickets available now from elefanttraks.oztix.com.au