Wordplay: Downsyde

It’s 4:30 and I’m arriving to see the people I’ve come to know over the last 15 or so years as “Downsyde” setting up on stage. There’s been a few different live configurations over that time, but this is the lineup that became the core. Optamus, Dazastah, Shabazz/Dyna-Mikes, DJ Armee, Cheeky, Hi-Hat and Porsah Laine, with the new addition of the insane key playing Imposter. From there it’s time to strap in because we were about to experience a serious lineup of local Perth hip hop. 13 acts, with supports ranging from 15 to 25 minutes, with 5-minute buffers between.

It was a massive show and had all the hallmarks of running overtime. DJ Tek started off the night with a fine selection of classic hip-hopisms, moving us into a new act, The Everyday Flow. Well practiced, these guys easily could’ve held their own further into the evening’s line up. The practice and preparation shows off as MC Yell and his producer/DJ Gawrilla tore through a few songs to a small crowd of early arrivals.

Poets Laureate were the next crew to hit the stage, mostly running through tracks of their recent solo releases. Then we took a step back to some soulful sounds presented by Jo Rivas and the Citizens. Jo Rivas and the Citizens also played the last Rosemount Downsyde gig as “El Cinco”. It was a nice soulful reboot to the vibe of the room. Modern Day Crisis was next up, followed by Lucid Reality, a recent graduate of Optamus’ Hip Hop 101 TAFE course. It was solid performances from both these crews, as more people were starting to arrive. Bypola were up next, playing some newly released tracks that they’ve obviously been practising, resulting arguably in a textbook performance that was well received by the crowd. Keep your eyes on these guys.

Underdog Mob were my “wait, who the fuck are these guys?” of the night. Hitting the stage with obvious chemistry MCs Quayle & Verbal Abuse proceeded to go back and forth like it was nothing. Bonus points are granted for the excellent beard. What the hell have I been doing this year? These guys have completely flown under my radar until now. Be sure to check out their Optamus produced track, Pull The Pen. Penny Purr unfortunately started her set with USB issues, meaning we were given a few minutes of background music while her and RichoKidd tried to resolve the problems. She ended up hitting the stage for two solid performances, but it’s a shame we didn’t get to see more. The Manhattan Project (Altty, Demolition, DJ Katch) took to the stage a bit earlier due to the issues with Penny’s set, allowing them to throw down a longer performance. I’ve really come to enjoy watching these guys perform, there’s a lot of energy. Katch wearing a monkey mask while DJing is now a thing, I never want to see his face behind those decks again. Altty aka. Mr Beef Cheeks even attempted bribing the crowd with free cheeseburgers, which seemed to work. Though one went astray, it smacked a lady who was mid-conversation in the chest leaving her looking bemused as to why she had just been accosted by a burger, obviously her mum can cook. Throwing things to the crowd always seems like a great idea.

Goodfellas (Adam Crook, AMC and Rob Shaker) found themselves on stage next. If anyone was going to be bribing the crowd with food, you’d think it would’ve been the lads. Instead this long time crew proceeded to wind the crowd up into party mode. For a crew that’s been idle for 8 or so years up until a few months ago, these guys are in solid form. I start noticing there are people from EVERY era of local hip-hop in the building. It began to become apparent the night was going to get large. Day one Downsyde fans, new fans, family, pre-Downsyde era rappers— they were all in the building. Panama Hustle (Bryte MC & Chekid) dropped on stage accompanied by Porsah Laine and brought an energy that I didn’t know existed in them. Cracking through a solid 20 minutes, you’d be hard-pressed to find breathing room amongst their tracks as they jumped through them at blazing speed under the command of DJ Jamu.

DT has landed the task of warming up for Downsyde for the last three gigs. Along with DJ Tek he swung into action, throwing down songs from his recent Leave A Message mixtape. Great rapping is what DT does and even though he looked a little tired leading into the set, great raps are what he delivered. At this point, there was a short break for Downsyde to get setup. Daz hit those toms again for a bit, the levels were recalled from soundcheck, gates were adjusted and some cables got rearranged. Without a doubt the hardest working individual of the night was in fine form by now, the sound guy Tim. Tim hit the stage after every act, re-arranged patches and flew back to the desk to quickly get a mix happening on people he’d never heard before. I see you Tim, kudos.

Downsyde took to the stage and proceeded to rip through classics and ClassicILL’s alike. The crowd kicked up into overdrive as hands punched the sky and the surge forward began— it was most definitely on. We were served it all as Dazastah & Hi-Hat alternated on the drums, giving us Gifted Life, Lesfortunate, To Tha Stumps with Drapht, Richman, Fortune & Fame, Only Got Now, Back In The Game, Fire It Up and heaps more. Entertaining the crowd for well over their prescribed hour slot, Downsyde showed that WA’s first major rap success still had what it took to throw a solid show more than 15 years since their initial success and 20 years since they started.

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