It’s an exciting time to be witness to the current growth of hip hop in Australia. The plethora of acts creating diverse sounds from diverse cultural backgrounds tell tales that are uniquely authentic to the everyday existence of our cultural and social paradigm, whilst pushing sonic boundaries along the way. Despite the lack of music industry support, wider radio networks or print and digital media, hip hop is at one of its most exciting juncture as it continues to develop outside the contentious ‘skip hop’ sound – a term often widely used to describe hip hop caused by the ignorance or our mainstream music industry.
Unique voices such as Harlem born and Blacktown raised hip hop artist and multi-faceted entertainer Stan Bravo is a name that has been a part of the hip hop community for over 10 years. Stan Bravo dons multiple hats as father, husband, rapper, radio host, producer and business man. A lethal combination mixing heart, passion and soul.
Having played support for the likes of prominent artists Ja Rule, Ashanti, Nelly, Busta Rhymes at large arenas, Stan Bravo has had the opportunity to also produce for pop artist Ricki Lee’s album receiving an underground hit with their collaboration ‘Hello’ displaying his eclectic skills in the music industry.
Stan Bravo releases his new debut album ‘A New Life Experience’ with a live theatre production at Blacktown Arts Centre along side DJ Influence and MC Hannibal. ‘A New Live Experience’ is a special hip hop theatre performance journeying from Harlem to Blacktown, depicting the highs and lows of his experience of the Australian music industry.
Krystel Diola caught up with Stan Bravo to talk about his new life experience.
Who is Stan Bravo?
That question is so broad and to be honest the answer changes depending on my mood and whatever I’m working on at that given moment but I guess one consistent motivation for me is to be of service to this world. So I guess I am someone that wants to touch this world and leave some thing to make this place better than when I first found it.
Why the move from Harlem to Australia?
Basically my mom met an Australian guy while overseas. They feel in love, he came to Harlem saw how we were living and offered us a new life in Sydney and the rest is history. I’m kinda like the Fresh Prince of Bel Air but instead of Bel Air I moved to Blacktown. Which of course makes me the Fresh Prince of Blacktown.
Had you been to Australia prior to the big move with your family?
Nah the only thing I knew of Australia was what was on TV at the time.
How do you think living in the Western suburbs of Blacktown has helped shape you as a musician and as a person?
Coming out here was a blessing in disguise for me creatively. See by being over here I also missed some of the new trends that were happening in Hip Hop and New York. Not to say I didn’t stay up to date with what was happening in the game but being over here in a funny way left me in a time capsule as far as my writing was concerned. This is why I believe people still feel my music the way that they do because I actually sound like I’m still from NY. Which is rare in this climate because that New York sound has all but disappeared in favor for what is currently “hot”. So most new artists from NY have to sound like they’re from every other place except for New York in order to be accepted. Which is crazy when you consider that NYC is the reason why this whole Hip Hop exists in the first place.
You started from rapping at birthday parties to supporting prominent international rappers in large arenas including Ja Rule, Nelly and Busta Rhymes in the mid 2000’s, gaining attention from local artists such as Bliss n Esso, J Weiss, Disco Montego and even producing for pop artist Ricki Lee. What has been your career highlight so far?
Honestly there are just too many to name but I’d have to say my biggest highlight and crowning achievement to date is this Album and Stage show “A New Life”. Just because with all of those other things I have done they’ve always were associated with other artists. But this is the first time when the light is completely on me and I love that. You know. To know that I’m doing this for me, by me and people are coming out to hear my story. It’s a real humbling thing.
What where your first impressions about the Australian hip hop scene upon first arriving here from Harlem in 1997?
When I first came out here I didn’t really delve into the scene mainly because I was still too young (I was 16 when I arrived) but once I started hitting and working in clubs thats when I got a chance to see who’s who and what was what. I was happy with what I saw you know? Like people out here really have a love for the culture that in many ways is lost by some in the US. The only thing I didn’t really agree with was the whole accent argument thing. Even though I can understand why the argument was an important discussion to have I also felt that it potentially took away from people being able to hear an artists’ music which is ultimately put limits on creativity which is never good for artists or the scene. That said I still do understand it.
What do you think about Australia’s hip hop scene now 2015?
I think it has improved alot. A lot of young boys are out here doing their thing and it’s great man. A scene needs artists working. So the more artists who are working and putting out music the better to me. So I’m real happy with the way the scene is looking in 2015.
How has fatherhood changed you and the way you create music?
It has made me more aware. Before I used to let emotion drive what I wrote, now I let emotion and my brain control my pen. Which has made me a great writer if I don’t say so myself.
In 2008, you disappeared from the local music scene. What influenced your decision to take a step back?
Personal reasons which have all been detailed extensively in this album and show so I really don’t want to get into that much because I feel that I explained it better in song than what I can do now but lets just say I was tested and my the grace of God I passed.
With that reflection, how have you grown as a person taking a step away from music?
Hell yea. The thing about music or being creative is that it never really leaves you. It really is a gift and a curse that Jay Z was talking about. That said I never stepped away from “music” per say I really stepped away from the industry and alot of the fake people involved in it.
Tell us a little more about your new album ‘A New Life Experience’?
A New Life is my debut album. It is an album that I feel has taken me 33 Years to write because it is just so personal and so honest. Probably a little too honest to be honest but I love it. I’ve been happy with every mixtape that I have put out. They were albums in their own right but this one is really something special to me. It’s a concept album. Which rarely happens any more. Basically its an album that tells me story. A story about growing up in NY, moving to Syd. Making my way through the industry, the highs , the lows and where I am now. Whats cool about it is that every song is a scene in a movie which makes it a movie for your ears. This is why I haven’t released a single because that’ll be like the director of a film just putting out one scene in a movie a month before the whole movie comes out. You won’t understand the whole story based on that one scene. Which is why I putting out the whole album together and will be accompanying it with the Stage show to give the album an over all experience which has never really been experienced before in Hip Hop.
It’s an interesting idea that you’ve decided to incorporate a one man live theatre show as part of your launch at Blacktown Arts Centre. What can we expect from your show?
You can expect a great show to walk out of it (hopefully) with a better understanding of who I am as a person and artist. I choose to do this show at the Arts Centre because now a days Hip Hop is in a very weird place as far as respect for the art goes. So thats why I figured instead of having the release at a night club let me go to a place where people have respect for art already. And the Blacktown Arts Centre is that place.
In your eyes, what makes a good song?
Man thats hard to answer there’s a few different things that play a part in making a good song but I if I had to put a few ingredients I’d have to choose, song concept, lyrics beat selection, your flow and timing. I think all of those things together makes for a classic song.
What message of encouragement would you give to young rappers trying to step into the music world?
If you’re serious about your craft then the first you should do is to study the masters, the ones who came before and learn from them. Both what to do and what not to. Never be afraid to fail or take risks. Learn the business, listen to your self more than your doubters. And finally make your goals bigger than your distractions and you’ll succeed.
What would you say to your 18 year old self, knowing what you know now?
Be patient it all works out in the end.
A New Life Experience will be presented by Stan Bravo’s Creation Brand in
conjunction with Blacktown City Council for one night only.
Date: Saturday December 31st 2015
Venue: Blacktown Arts Centre, 78 Flushcombe Rd, Blacktown
Tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/stan-bravo-a-new-life-experience-tickets-19353648283