Versify 2 – Spoken Word at the South Australian Writers’ Centre

Get ready for round 2 of Versify – bringing together spoken word stars and rappers for an evening of lyrics and rhythms that will shake you out of those winter doldrums. Featuring the mesmerizing tones of Omar Musa, Mighty Joe, Luka Lesson, Alia Gabres, Social Change and K21, winner of the Hilltop Hoods Initiative. A cappella rap and spoken word to bring you out of those winter doldrums.

Joe Kim A.K.A. Mighty Joe was born and raised in the East Bay, California. Long the breeding ground for independent hip hop artists, the Bay Area’s street smart, often socially conscious sensibilities are represented powerfully in his music. His complex, poetic rhymes are reminiscent of Talib Kweli and an era of hip-hop often thought to have been lost. What began as an immersion in music as a means of expression evolved into an avenue for education and critical commentary about the struggle of the disenfranchised. This interest in social empowerment led to him earning a degree in Psychology and Social Work at the University of California, Santa Cruz. In 2006, his song What If was featured on the soundtrack for the internationally released video game, College Hoops 2K7. The featured song brought him recognition from all over the U.S.A and in the UK.
He has since recorded with diverse rock veteran Geoff Stanfield (Sun Kil Moon, Black Lab), Bay Area producers Germ and Redell, and Marc Griffin of pop-rock band 2am Club. Mighty Joe released his debut album The Golden LP in 2010 and went on to tour in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. He is now a member of international hip hop duo MoneyKat with Omar Musa. They have released their debut self titled album MoneyKat available now.

Omar Musa is a rapper and poet from Queanbeyan, Australia. He has won numerous awards for poetry and music, including the Australian Poetry Slam and the Indian Ocean Poetry Slam. He has released a book of poetry and two hip-hop albums recorded in the USA and has toured throughout Asia, Europe and Australia, doing writers festivals and hip-hop shows, including tour support for Gil Scott-Heron in Germany.

Social Change is Australia’s Hip Hop supreme team, featuring the emcee who goes by the same name, renown music producer Funkwig, and champion turntablist DJ Snair. With a distinct brand of heavy duty production, razor sharp turntablism and authoritative lyrics, Hip Hop group Social Change makes true music with universal appeal. In 2007 Social Change released the critically acclaimed E.P titled V.High.E.P and in 2008 they dropped the classic single REAL plus the video for underground favourite Lifted. Social Change put out the Double Banger Promo CD in 2009 which featured Black Text and Putting In Work from the upcoming full length Social Change album, and in 2010 Fat Pockets (Funkwig & Snair) released the Butterthief Phat Tape which features exclusive music by Social Change, K21, Dialect, Crossbred Mongrels and Chris Bass. Social Change also recently featured on the Dialect and Despair album The Vortex on which Funkwig blessed five tracks with basslines.
With a live show that incorporates everything from freestyles, MPC routines and turntable showcases thru to performing with a full piece band, Social Change have played shows Australia-wide and supported numerous Australian and International acts, headlining and hosting events both locally and interstate. They are now preparing to release their long overdue debut.

Luka Lesson the current Australian Poetry Slam Champion, conscious hip-hop artist and Co-director of The Centre for Poetics and Justice based in Melbourne. Luka has been active in community development work utilising hip-hop and poetry as a form of self-determination and raising awareness for young people for many years. He has taught Indigenous Studies at Monash University for the past two years and holds a first class honours degree in the same field. Luka has just finished touring Australia, China, the United States and New Zealand over the past few months both performing his work and conducting workshops with young people in every country.
Luka has also been invited to perform at the Beijing Bookworm Writers’ Festival, Auckland Readers and Writers’ Festival, Sydney Writers’ Festival, the Ubud Writers’ Festival in Bali and the Hong Kong Writers’ festival in 2012 alone. Four-time USA national Slam winner Taylor Mali states: ‘I’m not really into hip hop—I’m too old, I guess—but Luka Lesson is a sonic literary genius, and that is what I love. So if he is hip hop, then I guess I love hip hop after all.

Alia Gabres is a Co-director of The Centre for Poetics and Justice (a not-for-profit organisation focussed on using poetry as a form of literary education and social engagement). She was recently a part of the Global Poetics Tour 2011, where she toured and performed alongside international wordsmiths Shane Koyzcan, Ken Arkind and Mahogany Brown. Alia also curated of a Spoken Word explorations series entitled ‘Tell it Like it is’ at the Footscray Arts Centre and is currently undertaking an Artist Residency at the City Library.

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