Mr DNA is a DIY and punk rock influenced Melbourne hip hop artist. He's recently dropped his first release in a mixtape entitled The Chronic of Nania. He was awesome enough to take some time to answer some questions for Duderocket. Click here to check out the mixtape. Or click here for Mr DNA on the facebook.
You're a hip hop artist who is influenced by DIY and punk rock ethics. Tell us a bit about your background.
Well it all started when I was birthed into this world as we perceive it! Ma dukes was a groundbreaking ahead of her time human rights activist/ journalist / world music DJ and il padre was a southern Italian immigrant that's done so many dope things in his time. He was a founder of Nimbin and some other ill shit. So I grew up with all those values instilled from day one.
And what about musically?
Musically I grew up mainly on reggae and world music and was obsessed with ska for a long time—still got love for all the originators. I got into punk through Operation Ivy and that Gilman St movement—which is a super dope scene. I guess at the same time I always loved Beastie Boys (ex Bad Brains influenced hardcore band) and Public Enemy (fear of a black planet was voted one of the most punk albums of all time) and started booking shows from age 16, then eventually managed (I wish there was a better name for what I did for that band, manager sounds so corporate and lame) a rad folk punk band called Wolfman Jack.
Around age 17 or 18 I started really getting into the rawness of early Wu and the creativeness of people like Madlib, Quasimoto and MF Doom (lyrically wordplay genius) but when Wolfman disbanded I was kinda bored and I didn’t really have much to fill the time. I can’t play an instrument let alone keep a beat or sing haha. And one day I was high (I’m always high) and I was just tryna think of ways to describe how high I was! And I came up with "got more green inside me than Bruce Banner with more riots and girls than Kathleen Hanna" needless to say I was stoked on that line and was like hmm well maybe I can do this and it only got more fun from there. A couple years later im in a van with one of my now closest friends (GDP WADDUP DUN!) touring around America and Canada sleeping on floors playing for nothing but a plate of food (or bag of weed) and a place to stay, doing hood rat shit and making my own destiny doing everything from tours to releases on my own 2 feet!
When it comes to scenes and playing shows, where are you most comfortable? Do you jump between the two equally?
I’m comfy where ever I am. I love being stuck in weird and uncomfortable situations, seeing how charming I can be whilst all the chaos unfolds around me! But to divulge—yeah well I dunno most of the best shows I’ve played are mixed between the 2 genres especially at house parties or warehouses and other informal places where you can pretty much do whatchu want! My launch at Catfood Press was testament… I had three punk bands (screamo, Latterman style and punk/ska) and three hip hop acts (mcs and beatmakers). It was all ages and we were dubbing tapes throughout the night and selling them for pay as you feel donations per tape… such a fun night and I did what ever the fuck I wanted it ruled!
But yeah I feel as though I’m accepted by both genres and an outkast of both genres at the same time! Because in the punk scene there's always those few that are on their high horse and if they were anymore PC they'd be IBM! Then in the hip hop scene there’s those peeps that it’s just all ego and its like who gives a fuck about you and your boring over inflated sense of self worth! But I mean there’s positives and negatives in every facet of existence, nothing is 100% and I’ve always felt like a lone wolf, so yeah I just float wander like a nomad in space—which is where I want to end up and be engulfed by the ever expansiveness. And just meet up with like minded individuals irregardless of what they sound like stylistically!
Do you think that more hip hop artists could benefit from having a more down-to-earth ethos?
I think everyone could do with a bit of a wake up or reality check of sorts. To be honest humility and a better more encompassing perspective is something I wish for everyone, myself included. At the end of the day who gives a fuck? Do what ever you want in this world irregardless of laws or other people’s morals as long as those that will be affected by those choices are consenting and those that aren’t done get fucked on because of it then who gives a fuck?
You’ve just released a mixtape entitled The Chronic Of Nania! Tell us about that.
Well Nania is my actual last name and chronic is one of the biggest parts of my life (it’s the spice of life I require and crave). But the mixtape itself chronicles the first two or so years of me as a rapper and the common thread I guess is weed, haha. But I’m psyched on it cos A) all the beats are so dope…I dont like Australian rap myself included but fucking hell we have some of the best beat makers in the world especially here in L-burn, and B) because it really was driven by people around me being supportive of what I’m doing and wanting to see it happen! And with all our skills combined I think I pulled off what I was aiming for quite well! A lot of people got smoked out and compensated in weed in the process of making this haha. Also look out for a very wild as hell film clip for April May Redux coming very soon it’s inspired by a DMT trip I had! and you get to meet my tentacle goddess I see every time I smoke the stuff! Haha.
Hip hop mixtapes these days are typically just zip files sent around the internet but youve released the mixtape as an actual cassette. Do you feel music existing physically is important?
Well I love the internet and I embrace it with open arms and a big smile, but I dig the concept of having a hardcopy. It's nice, it definately kinda brings a project to life and makes it more personal feeling! The tape in hardcopy was more for the fans that wanted it! For me it's just about the music and getting it off my chest, so I released it online for free. And cos all the tapes and the process was done for next to nothing, we did it all ourselves, I was like well when I sell these tapes I'll let the people decide how much they think it's worth, and you know what, at the end of the night there was a healthy feeling box of coins and a satisfied feeling in my soul! It's a nice trust system that can't always practically work but I some how managed to make it work this time!
What are your thoughts on the cassette format? Do you see it as still being relevant or is it just a bit of fun?
I think tapes are way more dope than CD's! And I like the individual personalities you get with a tape but at the same time I didn’t expect anyone to actually listen to the tape version, that’s why I attached the download link inside the ziplock bag, it came in a zippy with a tiny sprinkle of erb in each bag. But a lot of people have claimed to listen to the actual tape which surprised and delighted me! But I’d really like to know how many people tried to use the tiny flake of bud to chop into a mix.
What hip hop artists do you feel are genuinely progressing the genre?
Well I feel Tyler has helped in someways cos its allowed that DIY produced at home sound with that don’t give a fuck be what ever you want to be attitude back into the mainstream and taken away some from the more materialistic end hip hop seems to embody in lots of outsiders minds! Then there’s rappers like Killer Mike who is from the south and sounds like alot of "ignorant rappers" out there style wise but is actually one of the smartest dudes I’ve listen to in a while (get - i pledge allegiance to the grind part 2).
But also there are my boys in New Jersey doing some crazy shit... GDP, The Man From Somewhere Else, Pistol... all on this label called Slangcorp (go to www.slangcorp.com to download alot of there shit for free!). But please be sure to check out my man GDP from West Orange, New Jersey (www.g6d6p6.com), he’s one of the punkest guys I know and is also one of the best rappers I’ve ever seen! My mentor. He’ll be out here again wilding out with me in September, hopefully with Tame One! Myself and two others are working on this and making it a reality slowly but surely.
What is your favourite video game of all time?
Best question so far! Outside of Grand Theft Auto San Andres I’d have to say Black Ops is killing it… like it’s the best game I’ve ever played! Online is so much fucking fun, seriously I’ve never been more addicted to a game in my goddamn existence. Add us on xbox live - punchin conez.
Would it be possible for you to write a haiku about that game?
Fuck yeah Call of Duty
Sometimes it’s better than some booty
Both good with a doobie!