This May three of Australia’s brightest hip hop stars Pez, Maya Jupiter and 360 are joining forces to bring us a national tour with a social conscience.
The Change It For The Better national tour, is presented by The Line – an Australian Government anti-violence pro respect campaign that was launched in June 2010 at the 2010 APRA Song Summit.
According to stats, one in three Australian women will become a victim of physical domestic violence each year. It is startling figures like these that led to the launch of The Line. Their message has been picked up by over two million young Aussies and has even earned the support of respected musicians like Pez and Maya Jupiter, who have backed the campaign by becoming The Line’s “musical ambassadors” to help spread the word.
Melbourne-based rapper 360 joined Pez and Maya on the Change It For The Better tour for one very simple reason. “It really started from Pez, because he’s one of the main faces of it,” 360 informs me. “We’ve been making music together for years and years now, so I just wanted to get involved with what the whole tour represents. And I think what The Line is doing is a really good thing.”
“The whole tour,” in this case, the Change It For The Better national tour takes place in May and June, where 360 will join Pez and Australian hip hop icon Maya Jupiter in a series of dates across Australia. It couldn’t come at a better time for 360, whose current single Just Got Started is blowing up on Nova and Triple J. I ask 360 about the song’s signature riff, which has been sampled from an unlikely source, the softly-spoken indie-disco group The Whitest Boy Alive. “I went over to the dude who’s producing my album – Styles – I went over to his house one day and he had sampled that Whitest Boy Alive song, and he played it to me,” 360 says. “I was like, ‘Yeah, we’ve got to use this, this sounds sick.’ We were just going to use it as a mix-tape song, just put it out for free, because it was a sample and a recent one. But once we made the actual song, it was like, ‘This could be pretty big.’ Everyone loved it, so we contacted Whitest Boy Alive and got their blessing to put it out.”
This unusual source for a sample indicates the diversity of the music that will appear on the Change It For The Better Tour, where both Pez and Maya Jupiter will appear with a full backing band – a rare occurrence in the DJ-centered world of hip hop. “I’ll be opening the night up, just me and a DJ,” 360 says, “Then Maya Jupiter’s gonna come on with the band, then Pez is gonna slam it down at the end. I haven’t seen Maya Jupiter perform live ever, so I’m looking forward to seeing her with the band. It’s gonna be good.”
Pez is similarly effusive about Maya Jupiter’s talents: “She’s a real good person – the few times we got to meet her, we clicked really well, because she’s a genuine person,” he says. “Most people know of her particularly because she was slogging it out for hip hop over here well before it became cool, or it got any momentum. She was doing the hard yards for us, and we’re really aware of that, and I guess that for any of the members of the new generation of Australian hip hop fans who aren’t aware of that, they’ll get to be brought up to speed on this tour.”
Pez is equally keen to be working with a band on the tour, rather than the traditional MC-and-DJ setup that has dominated hip hop since the days of Grandmaster Flash. “Even if you do perform with a band in hip hop, you’d normally have a DJ running a lot of samples,” he says. “This is going to be the first time I work with a band and it’s entirely live, they interpret the songs. It’s amazing. I had a rehearsal last night, and you just fall in love with certain songs again, the ones which maybe didn’t reach their potential in their original form. It brings everything to life. I can’t wait.”
Despite all of these exciting musical developments, Pez hasn’t lost sight of the basis of the tour and The Line initiative behind it: “We get to go around the country and see a lot of people and connect with them,” he says. “We can talk on a pretty real level, it’s not going to be pretentious shit. The Line is trying to do something positive, promoting respect and breaking the cycle of violence in all its forms,”
You can catch Pez, Maya Jupiter & 360 on tour nationally from May – June to see all tour dates book tickets and watch videos of the artists featured go to www.theline.gov.au