Skeaz Lauren Ain’t No Lad Rapper
The Sydney MC says it’s gutter rap not lad rap.
Last year Noisey ran a piece on 'lad rap', a specifically Australian and hectic take on underground hip hop. Performed by “a bunch of Nautica-wearing, Stanley knife-carrying rappers” it was described as a true alternative to the non threatening and friendly hip hop championed by triple J.
One of the featured artists Skeaz Lauren aka Skeamo, took umbrage at being labeled lad rap, a loose banner that also includes performers such as Sky‘High, Nter, Kerser, Serchaz, and Gravy Baby.
"IM A FUKN CRIMINAL, NOT A FUKN LAD" he posted on his Facebook account that also features other capitalised messages calling out detractors.
So we decided to have a chat to the Sydney rapper to find out more about his life, his music, and why he doesn’t want to be called a lad.
Noisey: Why have you taken issue with being called lad rap?
Skeaz Lauren: Well, I’ve never heard of the genre before. It’s not lad rap, we classify it more as gutter rap. It’s more of the grimier side of music and of reality.
And is that just you personally or are there others in gutter rap?
Nah, there’s plenty of other in that genre but I would say the pioneers are me and Sky’High. NTER was there from the beginning, he was younger.
What period was this?
Well I did my first show in 2000. I started off as a DJ. I supported Delta, Funkoars, Kool Keith, heaps of people. Then about 2005 I met Sky and we sat down and got some music together and that was the start of what it is today.
As gutter rap?
Yeah, that’s what we call it. It’s not straight hip hop, you know? We’re trying to carve a niche. It’s not gangster rap because we’re not gangsters. People liken it to gangster rap but we’re from Australia. We don’t get around doing drive-bys, we’re just houseo kids. Grimy, gutter, it’s just the way we were brought up. It’s not just music but also our lifestyle and upbringing
So you’re not a lad?
I’m 32 years old, right? I don’t wear Nautica anymore, I don’t see myself as a lad. I started off as a criminal. The way that I dress, back then, you could tell who was a earner and who was a bum. The earners and the people who had something, they were well dressed, they looked good. And the people who didn’t, well they looked like a bum, they weren’t doing well for themselves. That evolved into a culture of people that would’ve been labeled lads or lasses. The stripeys (striped polos), the TN’s (Nike TN’s.) I’ve never worn TN’s though, never will, I think they’re a mug’s shoe.
At that time Thirstin’ Howell III was really starting to get big in Australia. Was that an influence?
The Lo Lifes? They’ve always been a huge influence to my style, my music and how they used Facebook and all that stuff. I bought a lot of Polo off Rack Lo. Those guys were world leaders in terms of the fashion side of things. They are geniuses. They took a brand name like Polo and made it their own.
You and your peers haven’t exactly chased radio play in the traditional sense.
As I said, I started in 2000. Music has always been a hobby to me. I love music, I’ve been a dj since I was 16-years old. DJing at raves before I got into hip hop. It’s just always something I’ve enjoyed, I never got into music to make money out of it. But Kerser opened the door. He really started doing well for himself.
What happened with you and Gunsta from Hustle Hard TV?
Well that was like a friendship. I’ve known the bloke for a long time, since I was 17 years old. We were working a lot together at the time and he asked me for some help. I’m a good bloke, he asked me for rent because he wasn’t working at the time and I helped him out. He turned on me and I basically called him on it. I’m not worried about money. Money you can make back. People show their true colours about what they’ll do for a dollar. It’s not the first time I’ve experienced it and I’ll probably experience it again.
Could you see yourself making anything more pop-oriented in the future?
Yeah I could see it happening. Check out “A Homeless Heart” with Sky’High and Blake Holliss. That’s the complete other end of the spectrum. You could play this on the radio, but I haven’t compromised my story. It appeals to a wider audience, but it’s still telling a story of people getting themselves into bad situations for whatever reason.
Is there a parallel between what you guys do and US gangsta rap. Feels like there isn’t much of a space for it here, whereas NWA is a household name.
We are the NWA of Sydney, of Australia. That’s how it’s taken, how it’s perceived.
Maybe Australia isn’t ready for it?
Yeah. Australian rap is still very young. Hip hop has been around since the 70s, but only here since the 90s. The US have got 20 years on us so we’re still in our teeny years. Def Wish Cast were the first guys doing it and it’s grown from there. I don’t sugar coat anything, I talk about what I and others have been through, that’s life. And if people aren’t ready for life, what are they doing? I think a lot of people do relate to it though, Australia was founded by criminals. We come from convicts, I come from convicts.
Rei Barker is a Melbourne writer. Follow him here: bungroostacker