Kudos has just written a song saying “F*#k the rules.” He is a recovering alcoholic who hasn’t had a drink in four years, but isn’t promoting a relapse into his past destructive behaviours. He is a writer who gets his frustrations out through his chosen art form, hip hop.
Kudos is originally from the Sunshine Coast and now living in Melbourne, and is touring Australia to promote his debut single, Plucker. At Kudos’ Dust Temple performance on the weekend, I was thrown by his slight stature and baby-face features that belied the wisdom of his rhyming performance, and strong stage presence. There are no props, back-up vocals or band. Just well written spoken words delivered from the heart. He loves rhyming but plans to do more humorous story telling in the future, something he injected into the Dust Temple performance, and which gave a welcome reprieve from the archetypal dark subject matter of the genre. “There are a lot of boundaries in rapping, like for example, it has to rhyme. The art of good rapping is to take those boundaries and see how far you can stretch them. That’s why I still love Eminem.”
Kudos was 12 years old when his cousin played him an Eminem song and he was hooked. He started rapping in an American accent. “I was 12!” Thankfully, he doesn’t now, although with dual US / Australian citizenship (his father is from Inglewood, California) he will most likely end up in the US.
In appearance, Kudos could be taken for a youthful doppleganger of Macklemore, a hip hop artist who has recently received much flak about his song ‘White Privilege II’. Macklemore wrote the song in order to speak about racism to his largely white audience. Last week an article appeared in The Age newspaper about hip hop in Australia being dominated last decade by straight, white males, but that it is now emerging as more inclusive of indigenous and immigrant performers and stories. Although Kudos is a straight, white guy, he agrees that it’s good that there is more cultural diversity emerging in the Australian scene. However, he says “It’s kind of hard for me to speak about cultural diversity. For me hip hop has always been about expression. Hip hop is a beautiful culture, it spreads like wildflower. I don’t think it has anything to do with the colour of people’s skin.”
The chorus in Plucker reflects Kudos’ reality check on himself. “I have no right to complain, as if my eyes have seen pain, it’s just inside of my brain ,I kind of like when it rains, coz when it rains I can shift all of the blame on those days its like the pain. First world problems.” He admits the day he wrote Plucker he was very depressed. “Although I have had some tragic things happen in my life, I grew up in a loving family in a beautiful place, and in a beautiful existence. So when I feel depressed, I feel I have nothing to blame it on.” Through Plucker he wants to give the message of balance. “We are all grieving. Bad things happen to all of us, but we have to bring that back into balance because there are always worse things happening to other people. You’re very blessed, so keep yourself in check.”
Kudos says he has friends with severe depression and he doesn’t think he has depression as bad. He is fortunate enough to have a circle of friends who are able to talk openly about feelings of depression, and he has recently started seeing a psychologist. “In my circle of friends, no-one would ever give you shit for talking about depression.” While he is not religious, he also feels a strong sense of spirituality through his art connecting him to a divine source. “If you do enough art, you’re going to start talking about the philosophy behind it.”
Kudos will be playing at the Jungle Love Festival 25th – 26th November.
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