Spit Syndicate – Cut to the core

September 7, 2008 § Leave a comment

Published: The Age, EG, September 5, 2008.

Nick Lupi has no problem exposing his weaknesses. In fact, it’s a quality that defines Towards the Light, he and fellow rapper Jimmy Boserio’s debut album as Spit Syndicate.

“It’s when you air your vulnerabilities and really bare your soul that you bring out your best,” says Lupi, on the phone from his home in inner-western Sydney. “We’re comfortable with ourselves, you know. We’re not tough-heads so we’re not going to act like that.”

While hip-hop cliche may predicate cross-town rivalry and shameless one-upmanship as its raison d’etre, 20-year-old Lupi and 21-year-old Boserio (aka Just Enuf) dabble in a rap vernacular that’s anything but archetypal. Self-exposing, personal, even emotive, the 14 pop and soul-inflected cuts of Towards the Light see the pair not only drop their guard but do away with it altogether.

Lupi’s ode to his little brother, Til the World Blow Up, and Boserio’s poignant dispatch to his absent father, On and On, prove two of the most intensely personal verses to come out of Australian hip-hop.

“One of the really cool things about being able to write raps is being able to say this stuff that doesn’t get said much and immortalise it in song. The kind of stuff that you usually wouldn’t be able to say even though you’ve been wanting to say it,” Lupi says.

“Jimmy’s never really spoken to me about his old man in too much detail but then he just came through with that verse. It just brought me to tears and I know that it’s brought a lot of people to tears.”

In a hip-hop landscape once ruled by rugged verses and caricatured Australianisms, Spit Syndicate find themselves at the head of a battalion of Sydney crews in their early 20s pushing a very different perspective. The experience that rappers such as the Tongue and crews like Horror Show speak of isn’t one of defending hard-earned rap turf, but rather, expressing personal difference and striving for insight.

“I mean, we have the utmost respect for the sort of elders who came before us, but we are trying to do things differently, and I think there’s definitely a united front,” says Lupi, who began freestyle rapping as a teenager. “Because we’re making Australian hip-hop shouldn’t mean that we have to do it the way it’s been done before. All these new ways that people are making hip-hop and music in general can coexist.

“One of my favourite artists is Lupe Fiasco. He’s really comfortable just being himself and it’s so great to see that, especially in America with everyone in the hip-hop industry trying to be a thug and trying to have this aura of authenticity.”

Indeed, when it comes down to it, for Spit Syndicate music is a far simpler pursuit. “Just hearing people go, ‘Oh, that really touched me’, or ‘That really connected with me’, that’s just f—ing mad, you know,” Lupi says.

Dan Rule

Spit Syndicate play tomorrow night at Revolver. Towards the Light is out now through Obese Records.

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