Australian hip hop artist Calski is back with his brand new album 'Athletes', written during a two-year sabbatical after the birth of his first child.
A far more slow-paced and introspective album than any of his previous releases, Calski says fatherhood has brought about the change in his creative approach. “I've really gotten to talk to a lot of the rappers I'm working with on this album and most of them have had kids as well,” he says.
“I'm 40 now and it's only natural at this stage that I'm not talking about running around clubbing and drinking and doing all that stuff. My life has changed and the music has changed with it; it kind of happened organically.
“Being a father is probably the best thing that has happened to me and it's really taken my focus off myself and made me realise how self-centred that I can be. Now I've got another human to think about first, and that comes first.”
Though hip hop and responsible parenting may not seem likely bedfellows, for Calski the two go hand-in-hand and he hopes to pass on a strong musical legacy to his offspring.
“Anything that's positive, even if it's talking about things that aren't great in your life, hip hop has a really good way of taking the negatives and turning them into a positive; bringing yourself out of some tricky situations and dark places,” he says.
“Hip hop culture is built on that – on taking something that's not so great and making it into something that can take you to a really positive place. [Her] mum's a hip hop dancer as well so our little daughter is going to definitely have hip hop in her blood.”
'Athletes' features a number of collaborations from some high profile purveyors of the form, including Lazy Grey, Jake Biz, Raven, Rainman, Flu and Hau Latukefu.
Calski has also hooked up with another local legend, Hydrofunk Records run by Resin Dogs' Andrew 'Katch' Garvie. “Hydrofunk has been able to give me the opportunity to release vinyl, which has been a dream since I was nine years old,” Calski says excitedly.
“I've got so much admiration for Katch and the Resin Dogs guys for being Australia's longest-running hip hop label; what they've done for Australian hip hop can never be erased. They're literally one of the pillars that Australian hip hop was built on.”
With 'Athletes' released in early September, Calski is currently focussing on what comes next for him as he looks to expand his production chops abroad. “I'd like to move into working with some overseas artists next,” he says.
“A good friend of mine summed it up really well, they said: 'Australian hip hop beats don't have an accent on them, so they can be shipped overseas very easily.' I think the Australian accent can rub people up the wrong way a little bit overseas, but the beats don't have the accent.”
'Athletes' is available now.