Luka Lesson doesn’t care whether you’re rich, poor, black, white, gay, straight, old, young… he wants you to hear his new album. His second LP, Exit, can be downloaded from his website in a pay-whatever-you-want form. He spoke with DAVID JAMES YOUNG on free media, writing and miseducation ahead his show at Peyote in Northbridge, Saturday, May 31.
“I want to give this album to 20 million people – that’s the goal,” he says on the line from Brisbane; where he has just performed over the weekend past. “It’s available in as many avenues as possible – if you want to throw in a few extra dollars, you can; and there’s a deluxe edition with super high-quality master files, some videos and a making-of doco about the album. I want it to be accessible to all people.”
Luka – real name Luke Haralampou – says that it’s his fans who inspired him to push the album and create a movement with it. “It’s about establishing something beyond what I have,” he explains. “I really believe in my work; and everyone that I’ve ever performed with or shared my work with has helped me do that. I figured that in order to get it across to people, I had to create an army of people who know what I do. My fans have been amazing in that regard.”
The album, like all of Lesson’s work, involves a combination of his love for spoken word, beat poetry and hip hop. Although a love of hip hop has guided him for nearly his entire life, there was a time when the world of poetry seemed foreign. “I hated poetry in high school,” he confesses. “At least, I hated the way it was presented to us – all that we were made to do was merely imitate what we were studying. There was no creativity – there was nothing that resonated with me.”
It’s for this reason that Luka is a fervent campaigner for the use of hip hop in the classroom as an educational tool. “No one ever explained to me that the hip hop I was listening to every day was poetry,” he continues. “It’s a use of language that is completely creative – you’re in charge of the time, the place, the story. A lot of people don’t even realise that the biggest names in hip hop are all super dorks when it comes to language and the use of words. I now push other teachers to use hip hop when they’re teaching English classes – and they’re loving it!”
Luka has just begun a national tour, entitled The People Tour. It takes him to many Australian capital cities as well as a run of smaller regional areas. He will be performing a mix of his music and his poetry in both public places and in houses and DIY spaces. Although he appreciates every crowd that watches him perform, Lesson confesses there’s something about smaller places that strikes a chord with him.
“There’s a lot of passion out in more regional and remote areas,” he says. “There’s a lot of hunger for the art form; and a lot of thankfulness and gratitude from the people who come out to see it. Often it’s not much of a hip hop crowd, but that’s the beauty of being a poet – I can adjust what I do accordingly and make it work for them. There are people all over the country who are into this sort of thing for all kinds of reasons. I’m very lucky that I get to experience that.”