Creative industries face cuts under 2014 budget

The release of the Australian Federal Budget saw a range of funding cuts right across the board. The government claims that these measures are necessary to save the nation from a looming fiscal crisis. Screen Australia and the Australia Council are among those directly affected by the latest budget.

These two important organisations help to foster the creative media industries of film, theatre, music and television. Now, under the Coalition Government, their ability to produce and promote up-and-coming Australian talent has taken a significant hit.

Notable actor, Cate Blanchett, is leading the chorus of media professionals who are condemning the governments axing of funding to these organisations, calling the measures “short-sighted.” Blanchett’s career was catapulted in part because of her success at the Sydney Theatre Company, which receives federal funding via the Australia Council.

Other opponents of the cuts include prominent Australian hip hop artist, Shannon Kennedy, also known as Ozi Batla. Kennedy attacked the Australian Government following the release of the budget, calling the conservative Liberal Government “ideological bullies” on the micro blogging platform Twitter.

Make no mistake, there is no public institution or fundamental principle of our nation that these ideological bullies will not try to trash.” – @ozibatla

Kennedy is one of eight members of the Australian hip hop group, The Herd, who have been critical of conservative governments in the past. Their popular track, The King is Dead, bids farewell to John Howard after his government lost the 2007 federal election.

The cutting of arts funding has also drawn criticism from Fairfax journalist Steve Dow, who proclaimed on Twitter that the cuts are designed to “discourage creative thought.”

$243 million added to school chaplaincy program to control thinking. $87 million cut from arts to discourage creative thought. #Budget2014” – @dowsteve

So will the federal governments cuts to the arts stifle the music industry, in particular the hip hop culture? I doubt it. In fact, as in the past, the generally left-leaning industry will likely thrive in opposition to the conservative governments policies and ideological trajectory.

Australia’s conservative politicians have long been a target of the Australian hip hop community. They have also provided inspiration for some clever lyrics, taking aim at Australia’s involvement in the Iraq war and our governments indifference towards indigenous people.

What do you make of the 2014 Australian Federal Budget? Will the Australian hip hop scene be adversely affected, or will it thrive? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


The Art of Sampling

Warning: this blog post contains links to explicit lyrics and is therefore NSFW.

Have you ever listened to a song and thought it familiar, even though you’ve never heard it before? Perhaps you’ve wondered where artists get their inspiration for a particular track, style or rhyme?

You’re not alone.

If you listen to the radio, browse your music library or even watch television, you’ve likely been exposed to countless songs that have utilised one of the greatest forms of musical recycling – sampling.

While not exclusive to the genre, sampling is a core part of what makes hip hop what it is. How would Sir Mix-a-Lot’s 1996 classic Jump On It sound without the heavy sampling of the Sugarhill Gang’s 1982 rendition of Apache? We could delve even deeper. You see, the Sugarhill Gang’s version is itself a sample of the Incredible Bongo Bands cover of the 1973 track of the same name, originally made famous by the UK group The Shadows.

In this example, it is clear that Sir Mix-a-Lot has been strongly influenced by the Sugarhill Gang, one of the early pioneers of the spoken-word funk groups that inspired a bevy of future hip hop artists. In the same way, the Sugarhill Gang has taken the foundation of the Incredible Bongo Bands Apache and injected lyrics and other sounds to make it their own.

And there it is. The evolution of music over three decades, beginning with a funky instrumental, transformed into a block-party style beat, and again to an anthemic state-hopping rhyme.

More recently, J Dilla and DJ Green Lantern worked their magic on the production of Immortal Technique’s 2011 banger Toast to the Dead. The track contains a sample of the Greek electronic composer, Vangelis, originally made famous by its inclusion in Carl Sagan’s Cosmos documentary series.

Unusually, the sample has been taped from the radio. For those who appreciate the art of sampling, this track inspires awe in the same vein as the documentary series where it originated.

The examples provided here are merely scratching the surface of the wonderful art of sampling in the hip hop culture. There are literally thousands of examples out there. Once discovered, samples provide the listener with another avenue to explore their favourite artists, to see what has inspired them to make a particular track.

For many beat-heads this is one of the most enjoyable aspects of discovering new music.

Follow my blog as I take a journey through the history of hip hop music, selecting some of the most notable tracks from classic and contemporary artists and discussing the samples used within them. I’ll also keep you up to date with the latest hip hop news from around the world.