Collaboration has long been an integral component of hip hop music and culture. This is certainly true of Australia’s flourishing hip hop scene. Melbourne’s Bam Bam – AKA Joel Chamaa – is yet another young MC quickly generating a national audience, thanks to the singles ‘Bags Packed’ (featuring Melbourne rapper Allday) and ‘Feel Like I’m Alive’ (featuring Adelaide nu-R&B singer Tigerilla).
“Rappers tend to stick together,” says Chamaa. “We’re still a new kind of thing to the mainstream market of Australia so we all need to help each other out. In the rock scene, or any other genre, I don’t know if people tend to work together as much as rappers like to work together.”
These two radio-pervading singles appear on Bam Bam’s debut EP The Good Life, which sees release this week. Bam Bam first made a stir in early 2013 with the mixtapes Straight Outta Bedrock and Miwk Hawk, before ‘Bags Packed’ surfaced online last June. The Good Life has evidently been in construction for some time, and Chamaa says he had specific goals for how to present himself on his first EP.
“The writing part is the easy part for me. [The hard part’s] been trying to find the right beats. Because it is my first release I wanted to get it right and really sum me up as an artist. To do that you need to find the right music that accompanies what you want to do lyrically. For me it was trying to find the right producers to work with and locking down the right beats. I know what I’m looking for, but I just have to find it. So you just go from producer to producer until you find what it is exactly that you’re looking for.”
The six-track EP features another special guest: fellow Melburnian rapper 360, who shows up on ‘Day By Day’. Melbourne is widely recognised for its history of churning out great rock bands, but this hasn’t prevented the emergence of a strong rap community.
“Melbourne has a lot of awesome hip hop artists,” Chamaa says, “so it’s good to all feed off each other. Not all the time, but a lot of the time everyone wants to help each other out because we’re trying to achieve the same goal here. It’s a good scene to be a part of.”
The frequent collaboration between local rappers could potentially have a homogenising effect on the music that’s produced. However, the fact the Aussie hip hop scene continues to thrive is due to the diversity of its output. When readying The Good Life, Chamaa wasn’t daunted by the task of differentiating himself from his peers.
“If every artist does what they do it’s going to be unique anyway,” he says. “I’m not trying to copy any other artist or do what other artists are doing. I tried to create something that I was really happy with and I felt translated me as an artist to the listener. I didn’t aim to create anything in particular, I just worked on it until I was like, ‘This is the ‘me’ that I want people to hear and this is what I want people’s first impression of me to be.’”
So now, with the EP hitting shelves at last, can Chamaa safely say he met the criteria he explicitly set out to satisfy?
“I’m totally stoked with it. This is by far the best stuff that I’ve ever done and it definitely represents me as an artist more accurately than anything I’ve ever released before. I actually just can’t wait for people to hear it.”
The Good Life out Friday March 28 through Ten To Two.