Pataphysics album Subversive is exactly that: this record fits into many categories while bucking the trend in all of them. It is locally produced – by default, ‘Australian hip-hop’ – but without the cringe-worthy posturing and nationalism that make a lot of the genre difficult to listen to. The production, lyricism and instrumentation are completely unique. Pataphysics has recorded, produced, and mixed the entire album himself from start to finish – and the end product is brilliant.
Australian hip-hop, for the most part, is an angry teenager trying to rebel against its parents. In a subculture that owes everything to American pioneers and artists, the local scene still seems to be tying itself in knots to prove how un-American it is, with limited success. In reality, the result is a lot of angry, very white, middle-class young men with microphones producing music and rap of dubious quality. It is naturally difficult to repackage black and brown music when you have spent a lifetime in white suburbia. Pataphysics deftly sidesteps these issues with a cool, focused record – comfortable with its roots and sure about its message.
As the title implies, the record is unapologetically political, yet unlike any of the political hip-hop we are used to. This is not the classic lecturing of KRS-One, not Chuck D booming over the whistling production of the Bomb Squad, nor is it the newer, battle-rap onslaught of Immortal Technique. Pataphysics’ style and delivery are completely unique: a cool, contemplative conversation over jazzy and melodic backgrounds. That’s not to say that the message is toned down in any way – the issues and politics on the album are still razor-sharp and uncompromising.
But this record isn’t just good rap music. Beatmakers and musicians should envy the live instrumentation used to generate the unique soundscapes behind the lyrics. The features are a mix of local and international elite: stic.man of Dead Prez (on the standout track ‘Jungle’), turntablist Rob Swift of the legendary X-Ecutioners, and Raashan Ahmad (Crown City Rockers) all provide tight collaborations that are testament to the quality and global appeal of the album. Closer to home, N’fa (1200 Techniques), the soulful Vida Sunshine, Paso Bionic (TZU) and Monkey Marc (Combat Wombat) also contribute to the recording, rounding out what seems to be Pataphysics’ dream team of collaborators.
Already known for his brilliant live performances, the diversity of the features on this album further highlight Pataphysics’ versatility as an MC, producer and musician. The result is a smooth cocktail of jazz, roots, classic hip-hop and completely original sounds that are creating a brand-new space in local and global hip-hop.
Pataphysics is launching Subversive tomorrow night (Friday 14 September) at Gasometer Hotel in Collingwood. $15/10 at the door.