Peace And Power
Just like the inspiring flows he creates, L-FRESH The LION is on the up, having lifted his profile supporting many major hip hop heavyweights over the last 18 months. In the midst of taking his debut album to the streets nationally, JO CAMPBELL gets him on the line for a chat about the record, his community and staying positive ahead of his gig at Mojos, Saturday, May 24.
With his first LP, aptly entitled One, Sydney raised rhymer L-FRESH has brought back a lyrical, narrative style of hip hop that hasn’t been big commercially since the late 90s/ early 2000s. It’s an empowering collection of thought-provoking songs four years in the making.
“I had a vision for the album but I knew I didn’t have the expertise to get it to the fit-for-release point and that I needed people around me who were perfect to bring that vision to life,” explains L-FRESH. “So I partnered with a good mate of mine, Michael McGlynn who runs a studio in Sydney called Vienna People and we came together and I told him about that vision. We explored and solidified that vision, and then we worked on the album. He produced the record and brought it to another level.
“We were able to bring in members of my band and he had his mates, who were awesome musicians come in and feature and do certain things on the album and some new songs were borne out of that inspiration. So, some of the album features moments in a studio captured instantly and turned into songs. It was a long process, it was an awesome journey, it’s been really rewarding and now that the album is out it’s great to have people feel what we felt when we were in the studio making it.”
While the title track of the LP features an intro freestyle from rapping legend KRS One, the most recently released single, Survive, showcases L-FRESH’s Indian heritage and the people of the Sikh communities of Sydney’s Revesby and Craigieburn where he grew up.
“It’s so much a part of what I am that it’s something I don’t feel I have to explicitly mention as such in music or in my day-to-day, but it definitely forms who I am as an individual and as a human being.
“The rationale behind the video was, you know, how often do you see a video with my people represented? You don’t see Sikhs in hip hop. So I just wanted to make a video that normalises what we do, so I put it in a video! It’s really important for me to stay in touch with my community; they are supportive and mean a lot to me.”
Now working in youth support in Melbourne, L-FRESH is all about enabling people to create positive networks, a theme mirrored in his work with the seed having perhaps first been germinated during a visit to his parent’s homeland in his teenage years.
“I think community is really important, something that’s undervalued these days, particularly in Australia,” he says. “When I travelled overseas and visited places where my mum and dad grew up in Punjab there were people there who knew my parents from when they were little and were still living in the same place. There was this real sense of family and community really knowing one another and stories of this tight knit, community vibe.
“And I’m like, ‘why don’t we have that here?’ You know it’s really rare that people have solid relationships with their neighbours, or even with people in the community or in their suburb, and even on a national level or state level – it’s hard to come across the idea of people coming together to work together for a common goal.”
Social justice, peace and inclusion are all subtle themes running throughout One, concepts made reality via his clothing label and online community, Power To The Peaceful.
“People have just taken that idea to the next level. People come to the shows wearing the t-shirts and recognise other people in the audience wearing them and it’s this instant connection because they identify with the idea of peaceful people having power.
“The people that come to my shows don’t just connect with us on stage, they really get the feel for their peers in the audience. It’s the beginning of a community and people get to experience what it’s like to be part of this positive, uplifting, empowering vibe.
“I’m always about moving forward and learning, growing, and that to me is at the core of our existence. Something that I would relate to people is – be aware of your movements, how are you progressing? Are you getting better at what you are doing and what are you doing in your day-to-day to put yourself in a better position?”
Although One has been out mere weeks in release, L-FRESH has already set out the pre-work for his next LP, but before that, fans can witness his first headline Perth show this weekend at Mojos. L-FRESH will be joined by his DJ MK-1 and local dons of rhyming, Mathas, Marksman, and Selekt Few for a curated live show and no doubt, a maximum of positive vibes.