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Bam Bam

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Melbourne rapper Joel Chamaa, aka Bam Bam, is getting ready to build on the success of last year’s single Bags Packed with his debut EP The Good Life and an upcoming national tour. JOSHUA HAYES speaks with the former world-class dancer ahead of his show at Amplifier on Saturday, April 19. 

Although he only released his debut EP last week, Chamaa is no stranger to performing. Over a decade ago, he was representing Australia in the world’s biggest b-boy competition, Battle Of The Year, as a member of the break-dancing crew Wickid Force.

“Break-dancing has been my job for well over the last ten years. That was my first introduction into the hip hop scene,” he recalls. “I always wrote music in the background as a hobby, but there wasn’t really a market for it back then. These days there is a market for music and I saw some of my friends do really well and blow up in the industry.”

One of those friends is fellow Melbourne rapper 360. “We’ve been mates for a long time now, since we were performing to five people each back in the day at the Evelyn [Hotel],” Chamaa says. “Seeing him do as well as he did was probably the inspiration for me to actually give this shit a shot… I kind of achieved everything that I wanted to with breaking, so [I’ve moved] on to music now and hopefully I can achieve just as much.”

Chamaa is no longer making a living from break-dancing but he still works it into his live hip hop shows. “If there’s not enough room, I’ll always do some flips or something. I can always do flips in quite a small area, but if it’s a festival or a bigger stage, definitely, I’ll get down. It sets me apart from other rappers,” he says, laughing.

He started the time-consuming process of working on his first official release a year ago, and says most of that time was dedicated to finding the right producers. This paid off with The Good Life boasting production from some of Australian hip hop’s most acclaimed beatmakers; M-Phazes, Cam Bluff and One Above, as well as electronic producer Matt Sofo.

Chamaa originally planned to record an album, but as time dragged on, he decided to release a number of the songs he had recorded as an EP instead. “Because of the process taking so long, trying to find the right production and stuff, it got to a year later and I was like, ‘these songs are getting a little bit old to me now, I just want to get them out and start fresh,’” he says. “I’ve already got a lot of the beats ready, so hopefully [the album] won’t take as long as the EP did… I would like to get it out before the end of the year, but realistically I’m not sure if that’s a possibility. It just depends on how busy things get now.”

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