Trem – For The Term Of His Natural Life: Hip Hop, Heads & History (Interview)

We catch up with Trem as he sets to release one of the most anticipated hip hop releases these shores have seen. The For The Term Of His Natural Life LP has been a long time coming and let us be the first to tell you…it’s nearly here. We catch up with the man from Unkut to talk about the Omega Man single, hip hop history and of course  everything album related. 

The first single taken from the upcoming LP release ‘For The Term Of His Natural Life’ Omega Man has gone wild. The limited edition pack sold out across the country on the release date and it seems all is going to plan. Could you be happier with the response so far?
The response has been amazing. The initial reaction when it dropped blew me away to be honest. We did well to create some hype and with that added to the already mounting anticipation for my album, it all combined well to create a healthy buzz on the drop. I invested a lot of time not only into the track itself but the product as a whole. The vid, the marketing, the merch etc… I think it paid off well. Hopefully it cemented the hype for the album and showed the long-standing friends and fam their waiting’s not been in vain and the LP is bout to deliver all and more of what they’ve been craving!!! 

As a relative underground artist, who doesn’t have access to the budget and resources as some of the larger music corporations. Do you think that the success Omega Man has shown so far is a bit of a testament, to not only your label (Unkut Recordings), and the hard work you put in as an artist but also the support you recieve from fans and the wider scene?
Yeah, definitely, I’ve always worked hard to ensure any product im involved in is done to the absolute best of my abilities, no shorts allowed. And I’ve always incorporated people I believe to be the best at their field to cater to and contribute bits my skills don’t cover. Although the Unkut budget is shoe string, I still expect no less than the very best effort from all involved. The thing about Unkut is we’ve always been quality over quantity and anyone we may’ve incorporated into our releases is there because their work ethic is equivalent. I’m also fortunate enough to have had a good period in the game to amass a certain level of fan-base, the friends and fans of my music have tended to stay loyal from the giddy-up, for which I’m very grateful for. I feel it’s a bit of a two-way street, you can’t just put out sub par shit and expect your existing fans to lap it up and you can’t expect all those original supporters to continue on your journey thru this biz, if you waver from your initial path. Progression is cool, and hopefully natural, but blatantly switching your sound up to appeal to a wider audience and shitting in your OG fans faces is uncool. I don’t take my supporters for suckers and will keep on keepin it real…

You’ve already got 50K hits on the Omega Man video clip, with its a first class production executed by Full Clip. Was it important for you to get the right team involved with the production on this clip, obviously the heads were expecting something dope?
Yeah mos deffo… The visual medium is something we can’t sleep on any longer and seems to be a must when it comes to spreading the word. I was fortunate enough to be able to get the Full Clip team on board for the Omega Man project and team them up with our (Unkut’s) own videographer Joshy Davis who’s been responsible for a lot of our visuals since day dot. It was a dream team match up and the boys grinded like fuck to meet the challenges and our visions! They’re a prime example of what I mean by bringing others into the fold to contribute their gift or skill and delivering it to a certain level of expectation. Just wait for the next FTTOHNL visual installment! The game-changers (Josh, Heata n Henry) re-unite to deliver even bigger and badder!

The end of 2010 was when I think we finally heard the album was on track. Soon after that the promo video dropped. What was it that culminated at that time, where you thought,yup this is the time to go full steam in to the album process”?
Yeah, well initially the actual album was a sure shot to drop by the end of 2010I always refrained on putting an actual release date down because this album sorta seemed never-ending. I was getting sidetracked and combined with my own critiquing, I figured it best to get it on the verge of completion then talk dates. Long story short that time was the end of 2010 and we were looking to release round November/ Dec. Then one thing led to another and I had no hope of actually doing it correctly by then so we pushed it back. I could’ve dropped a half arsed version 4 times over in the past 2 years, but as I said 100% or not at all. So seeing as we earlier dropped a video advertisement stating the LP release was due late 2010 I thought it only right to give the people something. Hence new arrangements were set to drop a track, Omega Man being what I thought the perfect choice and after more consideration and discussions with other contributors who were to have a hand in the complete package of Omega Man we set about gettinitin! It’s been full steam ahead since…

You’ve previously stated that you wanted to take the whole release concept back to the way hip hop was once delivered to the heads (early 90’s). Explain this concept a little further and how does this translate into a final end product?
Yeah, it’s not just necessarily early 90’s, any era up until early- mid naughties. Releases were built, anticipation grew. By the time albums dropped there was a mad level of mystique and hype surrounding the product. It all added to the project. These days artists work god knows how long on a project (some prolly too long, others nowhere near long enough!) then drop it with fuck all fanfare, a week of hype a day of excitement and then it’s forgotten by Thursday week! Fuck that! I give too much to my art to go out like that! To break it down in an example, an artist would guest on a crew members shit build some hype then maybe again guest somewhere, and I mean with something hot, a blazing verse that gets heads talkin… Then they drop a single, preferably a 12”. That builds more hype, the 12”s got an instrumental so everyone’s using that to bust theyre own shit over in the park or on the radio or whatever, and there’s an accapella on it for the producers to tinker with… Then they might drop another 1 or 2 tracks or singles just building momentum… By the time the full length drops the punters are frothin for it… Then it comes with all the bells n whistles, dope cover art, lyrics, posters, merch, interviews. Not to mention 10 or 11 masterpieces of work! Not 20 half arsed lame fuckin tracks that no-one gives a shit about. Tracks that have replay value, albums that you will listen to again and again til you know every fuckin word. Songs were appreciated. Wheres that shit gone? No doubt a handful drop a year but its real few and far between. Id rather hear 1 amazing track than 10 barely decent wastes of time… Basically if artists only give their product so much effort than what do they expect from the punters? Its something all established artists should consider and something the new ones should do without fail. Stop selling yourself short and hopefully the punters will follow.
“We from a lost land, where the clocks hands is stopped, before the rot set in, before they shot Scott La Rock, before the shops stocked rap in a section called urban, and every third person’s thinking they’re word surgeons”

As we opened the press pack regarding Omega Man we were greated by the above line from Omega Man. With all the strong lyrics found in that track, what was it about this extract that stood out from the rest?
haha… good question, you’d prolly have to ask my publicist bout that tho! I guess a stack of the lyrics could’ve been grabbed for the blurb but Dan pulled the start of the 2nd verse. Ironically I think that verse cleaned up verse of the year at the awards! Maybe I owe it to Dan for pre planting it in their minds first! I do agree that it does summarize the track in all its glory wrapped up in a couple of lines, so I gave it the tick of approval!

Further more on this; As an artist you’ve released a single in a world were every second persons dropping hip hop tracks. From stuff on myspace to free mixtapes and all that shit. Did you want the single to have a bit more substance and have the people really studying and savoring the track?
That’s it, exactly. That’s what I was basically saying before. I want people to study it, savour it, appreciate it for all its worth. A couple of people even hinted I should drop the whole album as singles, 15 singles hahaha… that would be mad!

One of the main things we’ve noticed with the release of Omega Man was the cohesiveness of the whole project, obviously Prowla was on the beat and you’ve had a long history working with him, did that help?
Yeah, I try to ensure that gel is there on every track. Some seem to sit a bit better than others but as a whole I think I’ve done a good job in keepin that formula. Prowla was behind some of my earlier work and I regard him as one of our greatest, having him as a close confidant over the years is something I’m extremely grateful for. If you know Prowlz, you know what I’m sayin. To consider myself someone he respects on a music level as well as a close friend is an honour.

I have been through tonne’s of beats in the selecting and refining process of this LP. We are at last busting thru the ribbon at the finish line so its been a painstaking process but cool at the same time. I’m super grateful to ALL the producers who sent me killer production from the world over, there’s literally been 100’s and possibly thousands, no shit. A lot could’ve easily made the cut, but I had to stick to the feel and ensure my raps, a lot which were pre written, fit like a glove. That’s an issue today, too many emcees pick the beat on the beat alone and don’t consider their style, flow, pattern and whether or not they truly mesh. Alotta dope emcees sound half as good as they could rapping over the wrong beat.

Not only have you spent ages crafting the rhymes and song structures for the LP you’ve also produced a portion of the album. Did you want to produce the whole album yourself or were you set with a few extra producers helping out?
Originally the plan was to produce at least 95% with Prowls pitching in for 1 or 2. My main reason was to ensure it stays in the same realm of sound and feel, more often than not, too many albums with multiple producers onboard lack that. But then Beat Butcha came involved early on in the construction of the album with beats that fit the mould and my input from a beat makers perspective shrunk as additional producers were added to the roster over the course. It’s a crazy mix, but its all in a similar mould to ensure that cohesion is there. My actual input on the beat tip for the final track lineup is more like 20% now! Its funny though, even with the other producers joints, my own hand of production is still evident on the tracks through the programming and sequencing. It helps to ensure it all stays on the same playing field.

You’ve obviously seen a massive progression with hip hop in Australia, from the early days to now. Did you ever predict that hip hop would reach this level when you first started out with LC?
Its funny, I’ve seen it progress and regress. I think when we were doin the L.C thing, shit was progressing at a rapid rate, particularly from when I first started out in the early 90’s. But at the same time it wasn’t all progressing in the right direction as far as I was concerned, it branched off in all manner of ways but nevertheless it was progressing. I think in the last couple of years it’s dropped off  and we’ve almost come full circle. The sad thing is that while exposure to locally grown Hip Hop is at an all time high, the quality of the vast majority in my opinion is at an all time low. But it’s still getting support which in turn breeds a new generation of mediocrity. Some of the new fans n followers don’t know any better than what they hear on the radio or see on video hits or even worse, the garbage they’re exposed to on social networking sites where anyone and everyone has a voice. A lot of people hate it because it doesn’t take Einstein to work out that’s not what Hip Hop is and others that don’t know any better love it, even to the extent they feel it easy enough to emulate it and their own attempt begins. It’s a real vicious circle. I can’t help but also make mention that sales are dropping and even shows seem to be struggling. There’s a whole new argument these days as to what is Hip Hop and whats not. Without dragging this into next week I’ll save my opinion on that for another time!

Most recently, we seemed to have a problem of a badly over saturated, mediocre market, but it’s diminishing before our very eyes as the market slumps and the pipe dreams fade. The good news is that factor seems to be separating the wheat from the chaff. And whats more, it’s highlighting the pockets of heads across the nation keepin it correct! I believe it’s on all of us to keep it going and give the right direction!

Going back to Omega Man, we’ve seen about 400 remixes of the track. It’s great to see but have you had a chance to check any of them out?
I managed to peep a couple I had directed to me, a couple seemed promising and others were dreadful. I’m a fan of it, but my only advice to budding remixing producers is ensure your shit is as good or better than the original or don’t attempt it!!!

Do you think there is a bit of a ‘full circle’ thing going on with hip hop in Australia? Some of the younger emcees and crews coming through are really showing respect to some of the earlier inroads made by those pioneering emcees.
Definitely and although from a business perspective its damn near impossible to maintain in this climate it puts a smile on my face to see these pockets of new crews and next-gen of heads really following the right path. I’m a jaded fucker, for real, but I don’t go out of my way hating. I feel now a real sense of leading and teaching. Passing on what I know to those who seem to be taking the right road and giving them my wisdom and years of knowledge. The same goes for the factions of heads that are leading down what I see as the wrong rap path, I wanna show them how it should be done. Teach them how it all came about. Not everyone had the opportunity to come up thru the golden eras, we can’t hate them for that, but we can offer them a chance to do the knowledge on it. Then its up to them…

Do you see yourself as an emcee first and foremost, or more of a producer?
That’s a good one and a tough one, it changes over the course of time. I started out a DJ, then a half arsed wanna be MC then a producer, then back to being an MC and was for many years. Then I really cut my teeth in the production game on my early 12’s and then the LC shit. By the time I did Murderous I would’ve considered myself half n half. By the time I made Legend Official I was pretty much a producer who could spit. Then I was just producing and engineering fulltime. Then I got this real urge to go head first into MCing again which is partly due to the fact I eased away from producing my entire LP… At the moment, I’ve just finished lacing Beats, Verses, Cuts, Production & Mixing my LP so im fucked if I know?!

We see your up on the blog tip at the moment with a great post relating to the purchasing of music on record store day etc. Do you find that buying music has become a sad victim of technology and do you think artists have to be a little more creative in presenting their product?
Yeah, unfortunately it has, as I mentioned before the artists have played into the punters hands, we have to go back to making them want to fork out for the release. Give them a product worth collecting. I really do attribute a portion of the lack of sales to the lack of quality product being released, I can see why artists take shorts with the lack of budgets, but don’t understand it. We can’t afford to sell the ones short who really do support and fork out their hard-earned!

3 Quickies:
Information on next single release and full release date? – Real Soon.
Any emcee features you can tell us of on the full album? – Brad Strut.
Vinyl? – Double Gatefold.

Unkut Recordings  ||  Trem One   ||  Twitter  ||  Purchase Omega Man (iTunes)

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