Since the 2009 release of his self-made, self-funded, EP “Homemade Bombs”, Briggs immediately established himself in the local Hip Hop scene. Soon after he released his critically acclaimed LP, “The Blacklist”, toured Europe with Hilltop Hoods along with supporting the likes of Ice Cube, Yelawolf, DOOM, Ghostface Killah, Pharoahe Monch and more.
Grindin’ caught up with Briggs to discuss his new project “Briggs & Friends” Volume 1 which is released December 6th (exclusively online via Culture Kings) which will soon be followed by his new album an ode to his hometown Shepparton “Shep Life” in early 2014.
What are your earliest memories of music?
My earliest memory of Hip-Hop is watching Rage on the ABC as a kid, staying up late at night and seeing Ice Cube & Gravediggaz and probably Cypress Hill videos. And seeing Snoop Doggy Dogg not long after that. And also My brother showing me Public Enemy & Naughty By Nature and my cousins showing me NWA. I just started digging from there.
What first got you into Hip Hop?
Watching those videos on Rage is what sparked my interest. Not just the music, but the whole look. Being a fat little kid the baggy clothes intrigued me. It was the whole movement. It was black, proud, strong and scary at the same time. Its everything cool I ever liked! I also loved anything that was entertaining and Gangsta Rap was as good as watching an Arnie flick for me.
How has Shepparton shaped you as an artist?
Shep keeps me grounded. This is where I grew up. Born in Echuca Vic, raised in Shepparton. I’m as country as the next man. But it was also a constant reminder that there’s more to life than whats at hand and that you had a lot of work to do before you could reach the next stage.
What was your first big break as a MC?
Reason (Obese Records 001) gave me my first break. Reason took me on my first tours. Reason accepted my first, seconded, third and fourth apologies haha. He was the dude who gave me a shot. DJ Flagrant also helped out with keeping me alive when I was living in Melbourne and of course Golden Era Records & The Hilltop Hoods really solidified all my work by putting me on and investing in me.
Coming from a small town like Shepparton how hard was it to make your name as a Hip Hop artist?
It was easy to make a name in Shep as an artist, I already had a name for various other reasons. But making a name outside of that was a lot more work. The biggest step was moving to Melbourne when I was 19 or so, sleeping on couches, floors, futons and in nooks or crannys until I built enough of a name doing shows. Sacrifice is the cornerstone of my career. I sacrificed comfort, food and a lot of the times, a roof, to make my name.
How did you get signed to the Hilltop Hoods Golden Era label?
I met the Hilltop Hoods through Reason and the Funkoars. And we all laughed at the same things, so it made it easy. I never approached them as business partners, I wasn’t into all that back then, I only wanted to mess with people who were on the same wavelength.
My goal was never to be ‘signed’ to a label. I grew up listening to, amongst others, Master P, Jay-Z and Necro. These guys created their own labels, I believed in myself and my music, so thats how I worked, I worked as if I signed myself. And Golden Era took notice, wanted to help out and there’s nothing better than going to work with your mates.
What are the benefits of being on a label such as Golden Era?
Not much in life is better than going to work with your mates. So getting to do what we love, being blatantly ‘us’ and have people pay to see and hear that is a great position to be in. So many talented producers / rappers under the one banner. Best team in the universe.
Your new mixtape “Briggs & Friends” Volume 1 is pre-cursor to the new album what is your favourite track off it and why?
My favourite track is definitely the ‘Let It Go’ Remix I did w/ Sietta (Elefant Traks). It’s a good indication of where Im heading with my next album. It’s the most honest and personal I’ve ever been with my music, thus far.
How important is to represent your Aboriginal roots in your music?
I feel I represent my blood in everything I do, not just music. I dont feel the need to wave a flag in someones face at every chance I get because I’m already me, Adam Briggs from Shepparton, Yorta Yorta man standing next to the best in the country. Other rappers have their way, and thats cool. That said, I have my tribe tattooed on my arms and 2 Black, 2 Strong on my wrists. But thats me representing my people how I want.
Not everyone is going to understand my path or my journey and they don’t have to. As long as I’m doing what I know is right and hold myself and my people to the esteem they deserve, no one can question me.
How do you feel you have grown as an artist from the last album?
I was a lot more drunk when i wrote/recorded the last record. Not to say its not the record I wanted to make but there’s always 20/20 vision in hindsight. I did the best I could then with what I had ready. It was my first record, so It was my first step in making something on that level. I feel like this time around I’m a lot more focused, I have a lot more direction. I’m still angry it’s just more mature now. I have a better idea of the sound I want to create and legacy I want to leave.
What inspires you to write?
My writing is sporadic. I don’t have a set process, sometimes I get a beat and i work from that. Other times I’m driving my car and get an idea and start to work on something from there. The inspiration can come from anywhere. My writing is very honest, I just try to capture that moment as best as I can.
How would you describe the Briggs sound?
Its developed and changed over time, as I have. It’s loud, aggressive, hostile and endearing at the same time. It’s got elements of all the stuff I grew up on, from the West Coast gangsta rap (Ice Cube/Dre), Down south stuff (, Detroit rap (Guilty Simpson) and of course New York (Big Pun/Biggie). I dip into all those areas for inspiration. I also keep my ear to whats happening in the states, a lot of interesting artists out at the moment: Pusha T, Danny Brown etc. I listen to them to see whats being done and if I can adapt it to my style.
All in all though my sound is large, angry, loud and these days more thoughtful.
When will the new album “Shep Life” be out and what can we expect from it?
The new album will be out early 2014. You can expect a real and honest re-cap of the last 3 or so years. And observation on the current state of affairs within this thing they call ‘Aussie Hip-Hop’, as well as some classic ‘punch you in the face’ rap.
For those unfamiliar what 5 tracks/albums do you feel best represent Australian Hip Hop?
I’d feel like a dickhead If I said my own record, so go listen to that and make your own mind up. But as far as rap from Australia is concerned, I’d listen to…
Funkoars – All We Need
Trem – Animal Kingdom
Hilltop Hoods – Rattling The Keys to the Kingdom
Vents & Sesta – Fuck Em Up
Daz Layla Hunter & Bryte – Tits And Balls
What one thing does Australian Hip Hop need right now?
Entertainment. Something with a little more depth than rappity-rap-raps about some rap they rapped. Something to believe in. I believe substance beyond the surface is what makes an artist great, the struggle and unique story to them. I want to hear the reality. Most of all I want to be entertained.
Which artists are you are currently listening to?
Right now: Pusha T, Gunplay, Ill Bill, YG & Freddie Gibbs
What advice would you give to all aspiring Hip Hop artists?
Practice. Make sure you’re as good as you can be whenever you drop a record or do something thats for your legacy. Think big, be humble.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Touring with Ice Cube & Ill Bill within the same year, hands down. 2 of my top 5.
What does the future hold for Briggs?
More frequent and consistent Music. Albums, EP’s, Mixtapes. And whole lot more shows.
What’s your definition of Grindin’?
Doing this interview while listening to Album Masters, signing Mixtapes & selling t-shirts. AT. THE. SAME. DAMN. TIME.
Interview by Duggs