SETH Sentry is one of the most verbally sophisticated hip hop artists in Australia.
Now based in Melbourne, he is probably best known for his tracks “My Scene”, “Float Away” and “The Waitress Song”.
He’ll be here on Thursday performing at UC’s Zierholz, part of a tour of Australia off the back of his latest single “Vacation”, with Mantra and Grey Ghost as guest artists. The tour will see the three MCs passing through 25 Australian towns and cities in just under 2 months.
Sentry has recently been in the US, initially to appear in the South by Southwest (SXSW) festivals that take place every spring in Austin, Texas but staying on to appear later on the late-night talk show “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” the first Australian hip hop artist to do so.
“To be honest I thought I was going to have a bit of a holiday,” Sentry tells “CityNews”. “I was going to ‘South by Southwest’ but I thought we’d just do the public gigs and get a bit of experience on the circuit.”
All that changed when the politically controversial MCs Public Enemy asked him to be one of three rappers from around the world to appear on stage with them – “it was crazy and overwhelming, not what I was expecting,” he says.
In the US he found that his white ethnicity, sometimes a problem for rappers, wasn’t the main obstacle. The biggest problem was with his accent. Sentry disputes the idea that the Aussie accent is sexy, saying, “I don’t know about that, people saw me as a bit of an oddity, like the bearded woman.”
In the fan-based competition at SXSW, Sentry ended up winning a spot in the Jimmy Kimmel late-night TV show and had to stay on to prepare for that.
He was able to fill in some time by travelling in Canada and New York, the latter providing the greatest experience for a hip-hop aficionado, but it was all downhill from there on.
“They set me up in a hotel in Beverly Hills which must be the most boring town in the world, I’m pretty sure,” he says. “I was stuck with my DJ and manager with too much time together – I needed to get my own space but was hanging out in my hotel room watching terrible movies.”
It was worth the pain though.
Back in Australia, Sentry has just finished a sell-out tour of the capital cities with his “Dear Science” tour. “It’s my first tour after coming back from America and that makes such a big difference…I am playing in 1500 seat venues, it’s crazy, normally I like playing little pub gigs,” he says.
Sentry, is firm that “my lyrics are the main thing, everything else is secondary,” rejecting the idea that rap “has to be non-stop talk for the sake of it.”
“I’ve got a lot to say,” he says, and as his fans know, his words range from personal emotion to politics and science.
Freestyling, the improvisational side of hip-hop, comes easily to him and in his earliest days, he says, “none of us wrote raps, it was all about freestyling in the park on Friday or Saturday night with friends.”
But as he moved up the ladder in Melbourne he found he had to do more set numbers in a gig. Nonetheless, he says, “I include a freestyle in every single thing that I do, it is a bit risky it’s a bit scary, but sometimes it’s all go, rap has given me that platform.”
Seth Sentry, “The Vacation Tour 2013,” with guests Grey Ghost and Mantra, at Zierholz, Canberra, Thursday, August 29, bookings (18+) to sethsentry.com