By Danger Coolidge
Unbelievably Bad Editor
Here at Unbelievably Bad we’ve always just assumed that Aussie hip-hop sucked. But LIGHTA-FLUID has turned our heads a bit. Straight outta Sydney’s inner west, this 27-year-old MC is not like the others (and we’re not just talking about that Emperor shirt, Bunnies shorts and hat combo, either). LIGHTA-FLUID throws rhymes like fits and doesn’t cringe when he spits.
“I think the Australian accent can be used to accentuate violent imagery,” says LIGHTA. “It’s because of how good our ‘C’ sound is – it sounds disgusting, intimidating and playful.”
This one-man underground has just released a debut tape called WPN-X that’s packed with disgusting Cs and many other letters, too. It’s dense and deranged and only NSFW if you work with softcocks…
We’re no experts on hip-hop and rap so can you school us on the main influences at play in the LIGHTA-FLUID sound?
The hardware to create it: I was playing in a metal band without a drummer, so I decided to use my mate’s Roland MC-303 Groovebox to program some double-kicks. It took me a while to figure out the machine, so I thought I may as well get myself one and make some songs with it (girlfriend got me it as a birthday gift). I always liked Godflesh, so I thought playing with a drum machine would be fun. It wasn’t. But making rap songs is. As far as the beat-sound goes, it’s mainly influenced by the Memphis stuff from the nineties. I always liked the atmosphere of Tommy Wright III, 666 Mafia and whatnot. I like that it’s more abrasive and cartoonish than most other rap. The Groovebox generates similar sorts of sounds as the drums and synths on those records (808s, 909s, C78, etc).
Here’s a promo video for the drum machine:
Have you done any other musical projects prior to this? How long has LIGHTA-FLUID been your thing?
Since I was 17 I’ve been playing in bands that gig around Sydney and occasionally Newcastle or Canberra [First gig was at Beatdisc Records, Parramatta, then the Lewisham Live House Hotel on the same day]. Each band has been pretty different – Halal, How Are You?, Top People, Yard Duty, Meat Tray – but all have been abrasive, fun and cartoonish. Lyrics were always important in those bands too. I liked writing songs, mainly because I got to write lyrics for the tunes and to practice and play with mates. LIGHTA-FLUID has been a recent project. The last year or so. I started rapping while I made beats and decided to record some.
Generally speaking, Aussie hip-hop is the worst, except for Suicidal Rap Orgy, Shane Skillz… Anybody on the local front you have found inspiring?
I reckon it’s because too much of it is excessively po-faced. When I listen to rap (for the lyrics anyway), I’m generally listening for how the M.C. can paint vivid word pictures, or play with language (Kool Keith, SENSATIONAL or whoever). When I hear Australian rappers, I hear tools reading platitudes from their diaries and it sounds really insincere, all while being po-faced as hell. If they got off their soapboxes I actually think the Australian accent can be used to accentuate violent imagery unlike most accents. It’s the same way that Southern American rappers sound deranged and cool, New York rappers have that tough-guy gravitas, Caribbean rappers have that really fast cadence that make them sound insane and the English accent sounds great in that grime sound. As far as inspiration on the local front: I was turned on by Gravy-Baby. He has a unique flow, but I thought his beats were too generic and he’s not producing a lot of music. I also liked the idea of Staunch Nation more than I liked its execution.
Do you roll with any crew, associate with other artists, collaborate?
There’s a Sydney bloke called SECUNDUS making computer program beats that I really like. I’ve used a few of his tunes on the tape (“Syria Needz Guitarz”, “Torture Offica”, “THUG-RATZ”, “TST-YA-MTL”). As far as crew, I’m always looking to meet some people that can rap and want to record over songs I make. I’m up for rapping over others’ beats too. I come from playing in bands, so I do find collaborating fun. I’d love for LIGHTA-FLUID to be a group in the vein of Prophet Posse, Wu-Tang Clan or 86.
There’s lots of tracks on your tape. Over what kind of time period were this many tracks done and where were they recorded?
Six months or so. I’d made about half the beats while doing work for the dole. I’d take my 303 to ‘work’ and program beats and melodies during smoke breaks and other down time. Then I finished working for the dole and had time to complete what I had, wipe the 303s memory and start again. It was recorded in my lounge room while I watched basketball. The second half was much quicker.
What is the significance of the title, WPN-X? Gamer tag?
Alter ego title and rhyme opportunities. It’s like Ghostface Killah calling himself Tony Starks — you open up your lyrics to more rhyming and assonance and shit that wasn’t there before. Different ideas and images too. And there was that Iron Man album, so I just thought I’d take that idea and give one of LIGHTA’s alter egos the title WPN-X (Weapon-X, which is a different name for Wolverine in the X-Men). You make much different sounds saying WPN-X than LIGHTA-FLUID: wh-eh-pon-ex; lie-tar-floo-ed. I also like X in typography. I reckon it looks sick.
Listen to WPN-X: