Art Official talks about Ghetto Red Hot – a series of parties and mix-CDs he has been producing for the last five years.
Can you give us a bit of an idea about how you came up with the concept of Ghetto Red Hot (GRH)? When did it begin? How did it evolve?
The idea of GRH was something that seemed to come naturally – it was just a way of embracing two kinds of music that I’ve been really passionate about – hip-hop and dancehall reggae. Basically celebrating the fact that they are both seeds from the same musical family – Jr Reid described it best when he said ‘hip-hop music and reggae music are one blood’.
I started running GRH parties around five years ago. When we started NiceUp and the partnership with Newtown Sound began, the gigs became larger in scale to the point where we had a lot of guest performers from out of town and also began working on larger event projects like the Rodney P and DJ Skitz tour last year.
The mix-CDs started as a promotional idea for the parties and over the three volumes they have also evolved in their own way, trying to include more and more local music etc.
So here we are now, after a few years of GRH good times, about to start a NZ tour.
So Ghetto Red Hot has a strong focus on forwarding dancehall hip-hop. Where do you think music of this nature is being produced most strongly right now?
It was very much USA/Jamaica in the late 80s and early 90s. Respect to all the pioneers and the godfathers – Kool Herc, Afrika Bambata and DJ Red Alert etc. The UK was also a strong force around then or soon after too.
Hip-hop artists and reggae/dancehall artists working together has never stopped from those days, and the evolution of it all is quite exciting. Lyrically the same messages are being said and musically/rhythmically the roots and history behind it all seem to gel together perfectly.
Right now some of my fav music for GRH is coming from Europe and Canada, but yeah definitely alot of JA/USA/UK music is still at the forefront.
What have been some highlights for you in the past five years of Ghetto Red Hot?
Having Rodney P and Skitz here was definitely choice and most certainly a highlight. I’d have to say one of the best things for me has been working with some of Aotearoas finest vocalists/MCs and producers.
This mix-CD will be the fourth in the Ghetto Red Hot series. What do the mixes feature and what are the ideas behind them? What can we expect from the fourth?
Themes of freedom, unity and positivity.
As usual I like to put on some classic material which sometimes gets forgotten these days. The CD format was mostly inspired by mix-CDs I’ve heard from DJ Skitz, Kardinal Offishal and such.
There’ll be new local music on the CD from High Stakes and Flowsion, MC Silva, Haz etc. Maybe even MC Arme if I can track him down and get him in the booth! Since I’ve been living in Auckland while putting this mix together, I wanted to try and connect with some artists up here. Its a great joy to discover music in a different city, or a new-town 😉
You’ve personally got a long history with forwarding reggae and hip-hop music in Aotearoa, including in recent years, founding Newtown Sound and NiceUp. How did you get into the music and works?
How did I get into the music? I think it got into me first! Respect to all the DJs down in Welli who played the good tunes to the people when I was coming up – Danny Lemon, DJ Kerb, Rhys B, Aki, Jaz 72, Mu, Koa, Goosebump, Vishal, Duke Willis, Stinky Jim etc… The works is just a love thing, and when it’s a love thing I guess you just follow your heart aye.
Which artists/beats are you checking for right now?
I’m always looking out for fresh beats and songs from Karnan Saba, Haz (Team Dynamite and Homebrew), Truent, Messenjah, High Stakes etc. Vocalists I follow are people like Jah Dan, Lindo P, Million Dan, Seanie T, Jah Mason, Lutan Fyah, MC Arme, Silva, Juse1 and all the Welli Deep peeps.
What projects are you working on at the moment? What are your plans for the rest of ’09?
Finishing off Volume 4 of the Ghetto Red Hot mix-CD series! Then three NZ GRH gigs – this weekend in Welli, Sat 18 April at Vintage Bar, then Thurs 30 April at Concrete in Christchurch with Reality Chant Sound, and in Auckland too at Basement Bar with Dam Native, Silva and Substance on Fri 1 May.
Jesse I in Melbourne has hooked us up with a few gigs there in early May too, can’t wait to get back over there again. Big up Chant Down Sound and Troublemaker.
Any last words for the massive?
Don’t sleep. Stay up and link up. Big up NiceUp and everyone out there doing good things. Stay positive, stay focused and give thanks.
GRH Tour dates:
WGTN – Sat 18 April @ Vintage Bar – Featuring Art Official , Sticky Fingaz & MC JP Money, 10pm, $10 with mix-CD, $5 without
CHCH – Thurs 30 April @ Concrete Bar – Featuring Reality Chant Sound & Art Official, 10pm, $10 with mix-CD, $5 without
AKLD – Fri 1 May @ Basement Bar – Featuring Dam Native, Art Official, DJ Substance & Silva , 10pm, $15 with mix-CD, $10 without
Venus Hi Fi