Hip hop values

Keith Gallasch

Morganics’ shows at Sydney Opera House’s The Studio and Brisbane’s Powerhouse are taking this hip hop virtuoso to a wider audience, recognition he fully deserves. He’s more often to be found in workshops for young people in regional areas, prisons and Aboriginal communities right around Australia and it’s that presence which frames and informs much of this solo outing. He plays it as if we are a group of young violent offenders in an institution participating in a hip hop workshop, teaching us beat-boxing and free-styling and demonstrating his moves: “this is about breaking, not entering.” He shows videos of his work, largely with Aboriginal youngsters, reflects on his hip hop beginnings as a kid (Circular Quay, 1984) and conjures a range of workshop experiences that reveal the pain of the lives of the people he teaches: teenage mothers, prostitutes, the dispossessed. As much as it’s a mission, Morganics’ journey is also an adventure, sometimes exhausting, as he crisscrosses the country, sometimes tense, as cross-cultural clashes loom. He recreates these moments with a vivid but laidback theatricality. It’s also a role model show. It’s hip hop evangelism with an Australian voice. It’s a critique of commercial hip hop (“I love it when I forget it’s a business”) and the sexism of the form, and satirical when it comes to record company and undergraduate responses to the art. And it’s a thrill when Morganics raps and dances: you just want more. His work with young Indigenous hip hoppers from Northern NSW is part of this year’s Message Sticks at the Opera House and will be reported in RT 62. The big question is will schools be able to use their $1600 pocket money from Johnny Howard’s 2004-5 federal budget to bring Morganics in to teach values? I hope so.

Morganics, Crouching B-Boy Hidden Dreadlocks, The Studio, Sydney Opera House, March 30-April 3

RealTime issue #61 June-July 2004 pg. 51

© Keith Gallasch; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 June 2004