If the name ‘Morganics‘ feels oddly familiar to you, yet you can’t quite put your finger on it, hit ‘Mango Pickle Down River’ on M.I.A.‘s ‘Kala’. A few seconds into the track and you’ll hear the Australian producer and MC giving himself a well-deserved namecheck. In fact, he deserves more than just a background call – kudos to Maya for promoting Aboriginal hip hop, however lest we forget – the track itself is actually a Morganics and Wilcannia Mob production from 2002, with a new verse dropped in for the ‘Kala’ release. The track is just a public high point in a long history of Morganics’ projects, most of which involve working with indigenous and under-privileged musicians around the South Pacific region.
In a 2004 interview, Morganics (aka Morgan Lewis) stated “We are here to create our own Australian language of hip hop and a big part of that, a unique part of any Australian identity, has got to be Indigenous people” – a statement that has essentially has been his guiding vision to date, in a story that now spans nearly three decades. He started breaking back in 1984 and was an integral part of the seminal Australian crew ‘Meta Bass’n’Breath‘ during the latter half of the 90s. Morgan has also made a solid name for himself locally as a theatre producer, staging shows at the Sydney Opera House, the Perth International Festival and overseas in the U.S. and UK.
Following last year’s production on the debut release for Tanzania’s Wayahudi Family, Morganics returns with his own signature release ‘Hip Hop Is My Passport’. If the blend of indigenous and contemporary hip hop production on ‘Down River’ enticed you, you’ll find a great deal more of the same Australian flavours on the album, alongside a broader geographical sweep that takes in Brazil, Berlin, Tokyo, Spain, The Bronx, Bali and more. It’s an exhilarating ride through the true colours of global hip hop, fiercely uncompromising yet erupting with positivity throughout. If you’re not already reaching the Visa card, bear in mind there’s a free DVD documentary bundled with the album. Get it all at vitamin.net.au.
Morganics plays out this Saturday (29th March) as part of ‘Uber Lingua – Charged!’ at the Abercrombie in Ultimo, Sydney. I’ll also be playing a set along with: “Cuban reggaeton performer Pochoman, Chinese-Malaysian dancer and vocalist WeiZen, Brasilian batucada percussion troop Timbalada, Local Gypsy-Jazz maestro Trevor Brown, Ghanaian Hip Hop producer MC Gee, Argentinian Cumbia performer MC Hernan – plus DJs Bruno LT (Rio de Janeiro), Mashy P, Jack Shit, Luke Snarl (Sub Bass Snarl), Bentley (Drop), Sven Simulacrum and from the Melbourne crew – sakamoiz and bP“. Quite a list – tickets 10 bucks from 7pm (Earth Hour) until late. Info at uberlingua.com/syd