Australian hip hop pioneer Bias B has announced his retirement after an extremely influential solo career. His last show in Melbourne at The Corner Hotel was true testament to his genre-defining reign as one of local hip hop’s original kings. The venue packed out with representatives from all corners of the industry showing their support.
Here’s what fellow industry innovators Reason, Ciecmate and Pegz have to say about the legendary Melbourne emcee;
“Being the first Melbourne based emcee I had ever heard, I’ve always drawn inspiration from Bias B. I have the esteemed honour of calling him a true friend, an honour I cherish. As an artist and as a human being, his influence has had a positive effect on my life and personal evolution. I wish him all the best in any future endeavours… I’ll be in the studio patiently awaiting his return.”
“I was blessed to be there from the start of Bias B’s illustrious career on the mic. He will always be remembered as an endorsement for the writers, the emcees and the punters who are truly passionate about Australia’s underground hip hop movement. I am thankful for all that he has contributed to not only the scene in general, but for his friendship and support throughout the years. Salute to you Bias B, for you are the epitome of what hip hop stands for!! Big Ups brother!”
“Bias B is one of the most important artists in Australia’s brief Hip Hop history. His debut album Beezwax is arguably the most influential of all time and has inspired a generation of artists. Disclaimer: I refuse to let him go quietly and will be protesting in his front yard until he changes his mind.”
Interview with allaussie hip hop
aahh: It was 10 or so years ago when we first heard your track ‘Hursty’, taken from the ‘Hip Hop Life EP’. It was around this time that we really recognized that hip-hop could be tailored to speak about Australian culture and local issues. Did you realize what you were doing then?
Bias B: That actually came out in 2001. I had a dream the night before I started writing where I met Biggie on the street. He was real tall and dressed in a long black trench coat. He told me he liked what I was doing and to keep up the good work. When I woke up I had ‘Juicy’ in my head and just started writing. Came out of my head really easily. I never thought it would become one of my most popular tracks. It was more of a joke at the time that I wasn’t even planning on releasing. My whole career did start from me doing covers of classic songs like ‘100 Cones and Bonging’ and ‘Straight Outta Eltham’ so it was like a flashback to my roots.
aahh: Explain a little about the whole concept behind the ‘Biaslife’ album. We see hints of reflection, dedication and growth, all positive things but we can’t help but feel that there is this level of uncertainty as to whether this will be your last album or not, is that something you’ve even considered? (Editors note: Bias B announced his retirement soon after)
Bias B: The original concept was an entire album talking about my relationship to the world as though I was in a relationship with it. That’s where Melbourne City & In Love With The Music was taking me. As it progressed I decided it might get a little mundane and repetitive so I just went whatever came t the paper. I feel it’s a more mature album and I could be heading towards my last. I’ve considered retiring many times. I’m a very up and down type of person. One week I’ll be inspired to write and love where I am at and then overnight I might just think – do I really want to keep doing this or pursue other interests?
aahh: Over the years you’ve gone about making hip-hop in various ways. The famous ‘In Bed With Bias’ release saw you write most of your rhymes in the mornings whilst in bed, to now where you’ll go months without writing until some creative spark inspires you. What are some of these inspirational moments or people who’ve inspired you along the way?
Bias B: Lazy Grey beats always help for some inspiration. Often touring and sitting on a plane will inspire me. I remember when the Lyrical Commission album The Stage Is Set dropped and It made me want to write for days. I think it’s a combination of the right beat and the right mood. When they combine there is no stopping me.
aahh: ‘Full Clip’ directed the ‘Midlife’ single film clip, which also seems to tie in with the whole ‘Biaslife’ adventure. Did you guys get a chance to look back over the years while making this clip?
Bias B: Heata did the Move On The Pavement clip for me. That was his first ever clip. I have not been happy with most of the other clips to my name, so it was only right to go back to Heata. We are close friends and work well together so I’m always in touch with him anyhow. We are currently working on another project that has to do with the old days and the foundation of the local scene so we are always looking back at the good old days.
aahh: If you have a quick look through the ‘Biaslife’ booklet people will quickly realize that you’ve got so many big names helping out on the album and most of them are close friends of yours. Do you think that’s one of the reasons you’ve been able to make music for so long?
Bias B: I’ve always surrounded myself with creative people so it helps me to stay creative. As the saying goes “ You are only as good as the company you keep”. It also has to do with doing business the right way and not burning bridges. I’ve seen too many people get caught up in that way of life. I am all about doing right by others so they do right by me.
aahh: We hear you had a few objectives with ‘Biaslife’ release and maybe even a couple of boxes to tick with who you wanted to get in on the album?
Bias B: In the beginning of Biaslife, Lazy Grey was going to produce the whole album but life commitments (work and family) got in the way. As time went on I was hearing other beats I thought suited the vibe of this record and slowly picked up some extras here and there. I wanted every beat to have a certain feel to it. Not sure if I had boxes to tick. It just fell into place with people I was in contact with at the time. But I definitely wanted Lazy and Len both rapping on this one.
aahh: ‘Here I Come’ featuring Fluent Form and Lazy Gre’y is 3 straight verses of hip hop fire. Did you try to be as dynamic as possible throughout this album?
Bias B: When you have guests like Fluent and Lazy on your album you have to make sure it’s tight throughout. I pushed myself a little more on this album and went back to change lines which didn’t seem good enough at times. Once it is released you can’t go back and change it and if this is to be my last album I wanted to do the best work I could.
aahh: Over the years you’ve featured on almost every format imaginable cassette, CD, Vinyl, MP3, itunes, etc. Do you think the CD is going the way of the cassette? And what was your preferred medium?
Bias B: Although I love vinyl there is so much that can go wrong, that I got over pressing it. I believe CD’s like tape and vinyl will always be around and be available. They will fade away but never be extinct. It’s that nostalgic thing that people love.
aahh: We hear a lot of talk about the lack of money generated from CD sales for the artists these days and that all the cash is made in the live performance arena with touring etc. What are your experiences on this subject?
Bias B: Depends on the artist. If triple J or Nova get behind it then yes there is money to be made both in CD sales and shows. Sad thing is 90% of artists don’t get that love and are lucky to pull 300 people to a show and lucky to sell 1000 copies and recoup for all their hard work. It’s a sad situation but that is the way it has become. No underground rapper is going to make a living off Hip Hop in this country. Commercial pop is the only thing that seems to get accepted by the majority of listeners. Each to their own though. You can’t hate on the next man for wanting to earn a living off his craft. That’s life.
aahh: The track ‘Rap Life’ featuring Maundz highlights some of the downsides to rap life, but ends on the note that making music is for the people who love it listening to it. Is this one aspect you’ve always kept in mind when making music as a hip-hop artist?
Bias B: In the past I have. With Biaslife I just wanted to make something I was happy with and proud of. One of the greatest feelings is being told your song made someone cry or gave them shivers up their spine. It does not get realer than that. That only comes out of true honest music.
aahh: Over the years you’ve worked closely with Pegz and the whole Obese Crew, you’ve worked for street mags, organized events such as the Heat4Huntz auction and worked on numerous instrumental hip hop radio stations. What’s been some of your personal highlights from over the years?
Bias B: The Formula radio show on PBS was a definite highlight. They were the days before artists had releases out. Stewbakka and myself gave people the chance to be heard and get experience on the mic. Some fun times were had and with that added feeling like, I had that little part in everyone’s development. Secondly I’d say Heat4Huntz auction. It was organized within a week and the response was awesome raising over $11,000. Made me really proud to see the love the scene had for one of their own in their time of need. Much respect to all who donated and bided throughout the auction. It made me remember why I love being part of this Australian Hip Hop scene.
aahh: We heard you jumped back up on ‘PBS’ the other night, could we see a return to the radio for Bias?
Bias B: No its too hard with kids doing a late shift. I did a Friday day fill last week for the show ‘Rampage’ on PBS with Heata. Really enjoyed it. If it was a weekly thing though I think id lose interest. 10 years was enough for me. It’s nice to be asked by both PBS and RRR to fill in now and then though. They haven’t forgotten me yet.
aahh: In a recent interview we heard you talking about the graff scene and your Aerosol Era release, you seemed quite nostalgic about the whole thing?
Bias B: The whole Hip Hop scene here started with the Graff scene. There was not a rap community back in the day. It was a writer community who became the rap community. That is why I always give respect to the writers. Without them, there would not have been a scene. And without me being involved in the early days I would not have traveled the path that I have to get here today.
3 Quick Ones
Favorite track off Biaslife? – Melbourne City
Rappertag experience? – In hindsight I should have called Heata.
Peakstreet 93 Mixtape track? – Thought about it. Have not got around to it. 94 was the better year. Stay tuned.
You can catch Bias B perform in Adelaide this Friday the 29th July for Da Klinic’s 10th Birthday Anniversary. Featuring Vents, Briggs, K21, Terra Firma, Koolism, Madcap, Shep, Faint 1, BVA, Sanchez, dL, Mula and Kirk One Check out the full details here.