It’s been 10 years since the members of the pioneering Australian hip-hop group behind tracks Karma and Where Ur At went their separate ways after touring their last full-length album, Consistency Theory in 2005. In that time, plenty has changed in the music industry. From overnight YouTube sensations to the rise of SoundCloud, it’s easier and cheaper to get heard than ever before. By the same token, it’s also just as easy to slip through the cracks.
“It’s such a different game, different age now,” 1200 Techniques rapper N’fa Jones says. “The DIY scene has completely changed. It’s more of a DEY scene, Do Everything Yourself. Or there’s the other side, where everything is being done for you. In a nutshell: more music, more artists, less radio time.”
The 36-year old Jones mentors and collaborates with contemporaries Remi and Sensible J. And he’s impressed by the local talent pool. “I met my boy Rem when he was wanting to start rapping. It’s been interesting to see him move forward. He’s phenomenal. Sensible J was about to quit music and sell all his equipment and I convinced him not to. Thank God he didn’t, he’s an amazing talent.”
Jones attributes the success of his hip-hop counterparts to a greater belief in themselves, thanks to these increased opportunities. “Kids will be like, ‘Yeah I can rap better than that dude’ or ‘He’s killing it. My friend’s a photographer, my other friend can video this.’ Back in the days you had to get a proper camera, you couldn’t just record off your phone.”
These sentiments are mirrored in 1200 Techniques’ new EP, Time Has Come, released earlier this year. The title track reflects its own story, its ups and downs, giving young artists an insight into the music business and what it takes to be a serious artist in the industry today.
“I think the quality’s there and high enough to be in with everybody else. It’s nice to reassert ourselves as a group that existed and did some good things in the whole scene in general.”
Jones released his own sophomore record, Black + White Noise to positive reviews last year. And his band mates, Kemstar and Peril, are working on their own projects. It seems the time apart has sharpened the group’s skills.
“The first two 1200s albums, there were a few songs I was really happy with, but a lot of it I wasn’t quite sure about the outcome I wanted vocally. I’m a lot more comfortable with the way I like to record my vocals now. I think we’ve all lifted our games.”
Touring at mostly small venues around Melbourne, including Howler and Section 8, since the release of its new EP, the biggest nod the group has received so far has to be opening for hip-hop legends, Jurassic 5 at Festival Hall in March. Not a bad way to come back.
“That was cool. Actually the J-5 show was like; wow this is actually pretty serious. Hopefully we can continue to play on some bigger stages. Our shows are designed for a bigger environment.”
With a slot at this year’s Soulfest hip-hop festival locked in, and a new single coming out, the future looks bright for 1200 Techniques. “It’s great to actually be invited to be a part of it and the fact that we can have hip-hop festivals like Soulfest in Australia is pretty amazing.”
Jones excitedly reveals there will be a surprise guest on upcoming single, Flow is Trouble, to be added to the digital release of the Time Has Come EP. “The mix sounds great and it features one of the esteemed members of the Wu-Tang Clan, Ghostface Killah. He reached out and respected what we were about and he liked the vibe. It’s a pretty magic track.”
Flow is Trouble is out on the October 16. Pre-order the digital EP, Time Has Come (Deluxe Edition) on October 2.