Funkoars - Play That Funky Music
The pioneers of potty-mouthed Australian hip hop, Funkoars are back with their third full-length, The Hangover. 3D’s Matt Unicomb gets the rundown from MC/producer Trials.
Adelaide four-piece, Funkoars, embody the very essence of Australian larrikinism. Made up of Mr. Trials, Uncle Sesta, Sketchy Hons and DJ Reflux, their shows have become the stuff of legend, as their ability to draw fans in the thousands has not shown the slightest intention of faltering since the release of their cult debut, Who’s Your Step Daddy-. Sometimes labelled as geniuses, but usually labelled as uncouth, Australia’s rowdiest hip hop crew are back with their third full-length, The Hangover. Covering their usual tales of drunken sexcapades, hangovers and genitalia, MCs Trials, Sesta and Hons may just have come up with their most lyrically sophisticated material to date.
The Hangover’s production is handled entirely by Trials and Hons, with the exception of one beat courtesy of Hilltop Hoods’ Suffa. In a testament to Funkoars’ self-confessed disarrayed working process, the exchange didn’t come about in conventional fashion. “We played him [Suffa] the whole album and we were like, ‘What do you reckon,’” Trials notes. “He was like, ‘Yeah, it’s dope. Want a new beat-’ Instead of giving us a beat, [Adelaide MC] Vents showed us the catalogue Suffa had given him, we found a beat – Vents didn’t want it – so I was like, ‘Give me that fuckin’ beat.’”
After spending much of the last two years producing, in almost entirety, Drapht’s acclaimed album, Brothers Grimm, and Vents’ debut, Hard To Kill, Trials has seen his beats become among the most recognisable in the country. Producing at such a magnitude for multiple artists would surely require some degree of organisation. Surprisingly, perhaps as a way to allow complete creative freedom, the MC/producer keeps no MC in mind when in the production lab. “I’m making so many different things, so I’m like ‘Yeah, that’s an Oars beat,’ or if it’s really dark and down-tempo I’m like, ‘That’s a Vents beat,”’ he says. “I’ve got sorted piles of them. Then I’ve got this big unsorted pile of the maniac shit, which is like the dance music I make when no one is around.”
Despite making music together for close to a decade, the posse still surprise each other with their spits – though it may not be in their technical delivery, but in the content they put into a track. As each Funkoars release becomes cruder than the last, it’s nice to know that the fans aren’t the only ones being shocked. “For one of the bonus tracks for iTunes, we did this track called Don’t Take Me Home,” he explains. “Sesta did this verse, and at the very end of his rhyme, he goes, ‘Ahhh, the Pope’s a Nazi, who gives a fuck-’ That surprised the shit out of me. When Hons actually writes rhymes, that surprises me too. He just doesn’t do it - that’s why he’s not on two of the songs. Whenever he’s been on a guest spot, it’s been because the dude has been in the room, like, ‘Come on, just write a rhyme!’”
A growing trend amongst Australian MCs is the inclusion of American artists on releases. This year alone we’ve seen Downsyde nab Gangstarr’s Guru, and now, Funkoars enlist the East Coast veteran, Masta Ace on This Is How, in rather coincidental circumstances. Originally sampled as a cut on This Is How, Masta Ace flew into Sydney recently for a series of shows. “He’s a fuckin’ awesome dude,” Trials exclaims. “When he came down he was wearing this big fuckin’ leather jacket, in like 40 degrees, and all these flies were all over his face. In between the videos [we shot], where he would be using his rapper hands, he would start going ‘Fuck that’, and waving his hands all over the place [swatting flies]. I was like, ‘Welcome to Oz, my friend.’”
Unfortunately, despite their mostly jovial and comedic subject matter, the Funkoars are not happy with the state of hip hop in this country. Cutting his teeth in the Adelaide battle circuit, Trials has now found a place judging MC battles in his hometown. “It’s so painful to watch battles these days, man,” he commiserates. “They fuckin’ suck. It’s that whole style now of setup, filler line, punch line. It’s not even a good rhyme anymore. It’s not even a battle. It’s just multi-syllable shit that barely ever make sense. It’s just so fuckin’ boring to watch. At every battle, it’s like, ‘Cool, everyone’s gay, and everyone has fucked everyone’s mum.’ It just sucks.”
Despite his beef with the battle scene, he maintains the belief that Adelaide remains an incredible place for live hip hop. An area that has seen some of the giants of the Australian scene emerge from its suburbs, the city has proven again and again that it is Australian hip hop’s golden land. Hilltop Hoods, Terra Firma, Delta, Crossbred Mongrels and, of course, Funkoars all call Adelaide home, and continue to promote hip hop in the area. “Adelaide’s wicked, man,” he says. “Despite the content of the Oars shit, we’ve always had a big female following at shows. I don’t know why. They stand real close to the speakers so they can just hear the beats, and not the lyrics.”
Building up a healthy live following Australia-wide, Funkoars have found fans in every venue they’ve played. Touring to Sydney a number of times over the last few years – solo and with Funkoars – one things stands out to Trials. “In Sydney they burn toilets,” he laughs. “The last two times I’ve been here, someone has lit a fire in the toilets at Bar Broadway. Last time we were like, ‘Haha, remember last time-’ Then it happened again.”
WHAT: The Hangover through Peepshow Entertainment/Shogun
WHEN: Saturday 29 November