RIP Jimmy Recard, Long Live Drapht

It seems that Paul Ridge is certainly living the Life of Riley. Better known as Drapht, the Perth MC has been dominating the Australian hip-hop scene of late with his number one Australian record The Life of Riley and platinum track Rapunzel.

LUNA recently had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Drapht about his cracking new album, the death of his infamous alter ego, drug raids with The Funkoars, his split from Obese and subsequent relationship with Pegz.

In a massive achievement for both Drapht and hip-hop in Australia, The Life of Riley has been crowned the first Australian number one record for 2011, pipping KD Lang to the top spot.

Bliss n Eso have had one and the Hilltop Hoods have had a few. But to be even put in that same regard as those two is just incredible. Especially being a solo artist.”

Despite his humble sentiments, it’s safe to say that Drapht is well and truly in the same category as both BnE and the Hoods.

Since his break out hit Jimmy Recard garnered significant commercial success, Drapht has been thrust into the spotlight and is now a household name for all aficionados of quality Australian music. However, the success of this particular track has become something of a burden for the renowned wordsmith.

“During the making of The Life of Riley I was getting a lot of jealousy fuelled questions from other artists in the industry and a lot of people that were supposed to be my friends. They were asking me if I had another Jimmy Recard and putting that pressure on me to back up Jimmy Recard. I felt like I didn’t necessarily even have that in my mind frame because it would be moving backwards to something I’ve already tackled and a sound that I’ve already produced. So, it was never a case of me having another Jimmy Recard, it was more a response to those jealously fuelled questions that I was receiving.”

In an ironic twist, Drapht has not only emulated the success of Jimmy Recard with his singleRapunzel, he’s surpassed it in ways he never thought possible.

I never, never, never expected it to get to the point that it’s at today. It’s totally exceeded all expectations. This song was never written as a single. In my mind, it was something that I would never want to release as a single because it was so close to my heart and it was about a real person that could potentially get hurt from the release of it. But I showed her the song (because it’s about an ex-girlfriend of mine) and she really loved it. So I was lucky enough to have her support with the release of the track. Now it’s gone gangbusters! It’s reached certified platinum status. I would never have imagined I’d have a platinum record hanging up in my house so it’s just phenomenal. “

The quality of his 4th studio album is a testament to his undeniable talent and unique appeal as a solo artist.

“I honestly think it’s just the honesty in my music over the last 6 years. I’ve come to a realization that on Who Am I, the most successful song was Drink Drank Drunk which was my most personal song. Then there was my release for Brothers Grimm, where the most successful songs (and my favourites), were tracks like Falling. They were also the most personal songs. So, I really tried to tackle that with The Life of Riley and have it more autobiographical than fucking any of my previous works.”

Paul’s personal approach is strikingly evident in the theme and underlying message of the album. The theme itself has spawned from his personal experiences and is driven by a deep passion for the subject matter.

“It’s a loosely based concept record with The Life of Riley being an old Irish quote about living the good life and not abiding by society’s pressure. I’ve got some real close friends of mine who are always bitching about this life that they have and the job that they’ve had since they just left school. From being pushed into a trade, having the same girlfriend since high school and then proposing to this girl they’re fucking not even in love with. And then they’re miserable. But society puts that pressure on you to have kids before you’re 30 and be married before you’re 30 and pretty much work towards a mid life crisis. So, most of my tracks are about not abiding by society’s pressure and living the life that you want to live and not by anyone else’s expectations.”

The album features a number of Australia’s finest MCs, each with their own unique style. This is not only a testament to Drapht’s versatility but the respect he commands amongst other MCs.

“Well they’re just my favourite artists in the industry at the moment. Mantra’s probably one of the most talented MCs flow-wise and a really prolific MC in our game. The same with Urthboy, he has that tone down to a ‘T’. And then there’s The Funkoars that I’ve grown up with and Trials that I work on all my music with. They’re just really good friends of mine that I want to be a part of my record. And M-Phazes on the beat because we’ve worked on stuff since Brothers Grimm and thenGood Gracious with Where’s Elvis. That’s the formula we’ve worked towards. So, it’s just about working with friends and favourite artists more than anyone internationally.”

The Funkoars’ contribution Take the Party is arguably one of the most memorable tracks on the record and comes from the brilliant chemistry that Drapht shares with the raw, Adelaide outfit. The song itself is a hilarious retelling of a narcotics fuelled run-in with Johnny Law. 

“That stemmed from a Groovin’ the Moo show that the Funkoars did in Bunbury last year. I went down and hung out with them and did a verse through their set. On exiting the festival we got pulled over by an RBT and Hons was recording the whole thing. We had a militant sergeant that thought he could smell cannabis coming from our vehicle so he searched it top to bottom and two hours later they didn’t have any evidence, so they had to let us go. But yes, that’s a totally true story and sort of day to day stuff for the old Funkoars.”

The fact that The Life of Riley is the first record to be released off of Drapht’s own label The Ayems has made it’s success even more astonishing. It’s release follows Drapht’s departure from Obese records, where both parties up until now have been very quiet regarding the split. When questioned on the issue it was clear that, at the heart of the matter, it was just business.

“Well I just finished my contractual duties. I finished my contract and decided it was time to move on. I’d exhausted all avenues that they’d put in place and I just felt like it was time for me to make some money and not line the pockets of someone else.”

Drapht seems to have maintained a healthy relationship with a number of artists currently on the roster at Obese.

“In terms of artists, for sure. I’ve got Mantra on this tour and he’s their artist. I get along well withIlly and I get along with all their artists.”

However, the same can’t be said for the Obese CEO Pegz.

“Obviously, Pegz and I are more entwined in the business side of things so we butt heads a little bit more. It’s just Pegz and I just looking after our business interests, no one can be blamed for that. It’s just the way that business and friendship works.”

Record disputes aside, it seems that Drapht, like many other artists, struggle to remain a legitimately respected after mainstream success in such a judgemental industry.

“I get a lot of stick, especially after releasing Rapunzel. People appreciate it but the underground scene dislike it. They were waiting for my whole album to be like that but people forget I’ve come from a rap background and I have rap records with more punch lines than the majority of other MCs in the game.”

“People in this industry are so scared of thinking outside of the box because they’re scared of that criticism and being thrown on the cross. It really sucks because it means that everyone’s just making the exact same music. It’s fine for me though, it opens more doors because people are staying pig headed and staying at the level that they’ve always been.”

One area in which Drapht never seems to disappoint is his live shows and this latest tour looks set to continue the trend.

“We’ve been formulating this new set over the last two months and I’ve been touring with the same band I’ve been playing with for the last two years. We’ve got tracks off Who am IBrothers Grimm and stuff off The Life of Riley as well. I can’t wait to keep smashing them out and getting more comfortable with the songs. I’ve been in this comfort barrier over the last two years where I’ve known all the tracks off The Brothers Grimm like the back of my hand. Now I’ve got to learn all these new songs and it feels like I’m fucking standing on stage naked again. But I’ve got really good support acts withMantra and The Tongue supporting the whole tour. These are two of the best MCs in Australia so I’m really lucky to have the line up I have at the moment.”

Drapht is currently touring nationally in promotion of The Life of Riley, which is available via iTunes and through leading music retailers.

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