“When I listen to music, I usually get a colour out of it. It’s like the mood I get, and that influences everything. But it usually starts with a sample or a hook idea – a concept. And it all just grows from there.” – MC Tuka
Four years of respect in the Australian hip-hop scene and wider music community, three acclaimed releases including 2011 album Foreverlution’s #19 debut on the Australian ARIA chart, countless shows around the country punctuated by smiling faces and sweat-soaked boogie shoes, and a fan base that grows exponentially every time one of their groove-laden songs lands on the radio – you don’t get those things without looking at a bigger picture. And Thundamentals are definitely a crew that are all about using broad brush strokes on their ever-widening sonic canvas.
In the time since they first started work on beats and rhymes in their hometown of the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, the three guys – MCs Tuka and Jeswon and DJ Morgs, all now based in inner-city Newtown – have been about pushing themselves; using their hip-hop roots to see where notes, space, rhythm, technology, well-honed organic skills and the impact of electricity on air can take them. And it’s already taken them further than they ever dreamed
“People are starting to get what we’re about. We’ve been doing what we do for a while, but it’s only just now that people are catching on to what we’re doing. It’s a mad feeling.” – MC Jeswon
“We’re confident about our skills. The main thing was we felt strongly about how to go about things this time around,” Tuka says about the group’s level of focus and commitment around the release of Foreverlution, an album that’s already seen 2 singles added to rotation on Triple J, as well as seeing the band lauded as “One of the more exciting Aussie hip-hop outfits,” by the network’s Dom Alessio.
Indeed, Foreverlution was where the guys opened up their sound to the potential shown on their 2008 debut EP and 2009 LP Sleeping On Your Style.
“We have eclectic music tastes, so we don’t feel like we have to be stuck in what everyone else in Oz hip-hop is stuck in,” explains Morgs. “We’re not looking at what anyone else is doing to draw on what we do next. It’s always just kind of come to us – whatever it is, is whatever it is.”
“I feel like we’re part of a newer wave of Australian artists shaking off the shackles of Oz hip-hop and the stigma that’s come to be associated with it,” adds Jeswon. “Our stuff is pretty eclectic, and very musical. It’s a reflection of our willingness to experiment with different genres. Hip-hop, after all, is just music – it shouldn’t be limited to one kind of sound.”
“Fans say the beats are a big thing with us, but it’s definitely a combination of the rhymes and everything. Our live show is different. We want to make it a DJ set, as well as giving a big live performance and keeping it all flowing – not just asking for applause at the end of every song like some acts do. We really want to make it an event.” – DJ Morgs
With successful tours with the calibre of A Tribe Called Quest, Lyrics Born, Big Boi, MF Doom, Drapht and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony filling their Facebook status updates, as well as the national Foreverlution launch stint that saw them playing their biggest headline sets yet, Thundamentals have truly grown into one of Australia’s most accomplished and energetic live acts – raising roofs and causing hangovers wherever they go.
“The beat is always the most important thing. If the beat isn’t there, it doesn’t matter how good the lyrics are,” explains Jeswon. “But we’ve also got a lot of funk happening with our flows – a lot of local MCs don’t nail that aspect. To me, it’s really important that a tune has some funk to it and you can get down to it. Playing live is where we’re most comfortable. It’s cool to see people spazzing out and having a good time, and that’s an indicator that we’re doing what we do well.”