Having killed off Jimmy Recard, Perth hip-hop artist DRAPHT is living the life of riley. Four years ago he decided to quit his job as a roof carpenter and pursue his music career full time. Since then he’s released two albums; the most recent of which, The Life of Riley, debuted at number one on the ARIA charts. He’s also introduced the world to Jimmy Recard (and killed him off), had songs in triple j’s Hottest 100 and won an ARIA.
Influenced by the likes of Wu-Tang, Downsyde, Hilltop Hoods, The Roots, Eminem and Black Thought, the catalyst for Drapht (real name Paul Ridge) entering the music scene was graffiti and camaraderie. “At 16 I started heading down to the iconic Hyde Park hip-hop night and that’s where I met most of my closest friends to this day,” he says. “I was the only one out of our whole crew that didn’t do any music – I was just the shy graffiti kid. The rest of the crew started travelling interstate and I was left at home eagerly awaiting the stories they would return with. I really wanted to be part of the camaraderie.”
To Drapht, a good song is one with a “catchy easy listening feel, plenty of honesty, heart and soul and that isn’t too penetrating or obtrusive”. His favourite songs of his own are the ones that reiterate the lessons he’s learnt, with messages about which he feels strongly.
He thinks artists should write what they know and what they are, and shouldn’t try to be something they’re not. “I feel there are too many artists that are scared to be themselves and feel they have to put on a front to live up to the classic early ‘90s New York mentality that so many live by,” he says. “I feel that they’re lying to themselves though; too scared to wear their hearts on their sleeves and reveal who they really are – big, soft, Star Wars-loving, computer game playing teddy bears.”
Despite his success, the hip-hop artist is humble and still gets tongue tied. “I am a nervous, awkward recluse that would rather keep to myself than be under the spotlight. So every time I step on stage and the music stops between songs I feel out of my comfort zone. My nerves get the best of me at times, especially when there are ten thousand people standing in front of me waiting to be entertained!”
Drapht hid his nerves well when performing at the ARIA Awards recently, and capped off the night with the award for Best Urban (Hip-Hop) Release. He describes the experience as mind-blowing. “I had some amazing feedback from personalities that have been in the industry for decades so it was a pretty special night.”
Up next for him is a holiday, a trip overseas and no doubt polishing his ARIA.
Drapht will play at Summernats at Exhibition Park on Saturday January 7. Tickets are available from the festival’s website.