Welcome to the sound of the streets 2005. It's the self-titled debut album for Joel Turner And The Modern Day Poets, a genre-busting hip hop trip through rock, pop, R&B, funk, soul and jazz.
Welcome to the jungle.
The album is powered by the one-man music machine, 17-year-old beatboxer Joel Turner, backed by his crew, The Modern Day Poets - Joel's brother Tim ("Dub LT") and their cousin Chris ("C4"). From the streets of Brisbane to your CD player. "Hip hop is just a part of our life," the guys explain in the album's mission statement. "We take it a day at a time/All we've got is our travel bags and our book of rhymes/And this is how we look at our life."
"This is our story," Chris says. "It's about where we come from. And it's wide-range. With a lot of artists, you hear three tracks and you know that the rest of the album will be the same. With us, we wanted every song to shine."
We were introduced to The Modern Day Poets via the haunting first single These Kids, a "song that goes out to whole justice system". It entered the Australian charts at number five on October 4, went gold within three weeks, and spent more than a month in the Top 5.
"Nobody knows the sufferin' they go through
And you wouldn't believe 'em if they told you"
"I wrote These Kids after one of my mates committed suicide," Tim explains, "so it means a lot to me that it connected with so many people."
Joel Turner And The Modern Day Poets is an album of real-life tales. But it's not without its lighter side, with Funk U Up encouraging guys to dance, plus Lady ("You gotta have a song for the ladies on an album, at least one," laughs Joel).
Between songs, Joel showcases his amazing vocal talents, beatboxing everything from Beethoven to rally cars and drum 'n' bass (there's also a special message for the kids at the end of the album).
There's no doubt that Joel, Tim and Chris are the stars of this show, but some special guests bring their considerable talents to the collection, including Rebekah LaVauney, Axle Whitehead, Gary Pinto and boxing champ Anthony "The Man" Mundine.
Rebekah provides her own true-life story, Behind Bars; Axle helps Joel fuse jazz and beatboxing on the genre-jumping Scatbox; while The Man delivers a killer rap on the album's searing second single, Knock U Out. With Joel beatboxing Rocky 3's monster hit Eye Of The Tiger (six weeks at number one in Australia in 1982), Joel and The Man deliver a beatbox battle destined to be one of the defining hits of summer 2004/05.
The Modern Day Poets are "Brissie raptologists". They're not doing the American rap thing. "It's not guns and swearing," C4 says, "it's our thing."
The guys call for some Respect on the album, stating: "It's a serious problem we got/When it's lack of respect/Leads to death by gunshots/It don't happen in Australia yet/How long have we got?"
Not that this is sensitive new age hip hop. "We can still leave you physically and mentally hurt," the guys declare on the album closer.
Joel, one of five kids, grew up listening to Tupac, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Eric Clapton and B.B. King. "I wasn't really that smart at school," he admits. "Music was the only subject I did good in, so I was hoping to get somewhere with it, but people told me I wouldn't."
He started playing drums in his local church band at the age of seven, beatboxing on the bus to practise keeping the beat. "I started by grinding my teeth together, then I discovered I could make all these sounds." Until three years ago, Joel didn't exactly know what he was doing. "What's beatboxing?" he asked a friend, who told him, "It's what you're doing!" Joel then heard Rahzel, the "Godfather of Noyze" and the world's beatbox master. "That's when I found out that I was actually doing something," he laughs.
Joel is Australian Idol's biggest surprise discovery, the Idol from left-field. "I knew I wasn't going to win," Joel says, "'cause they wanted pop singers. I was stoked they let me through to see the judges. I just did it for the experience and to get my name out there." Mark Holden was blown away at the Brisbane audition in 2003, declaring, "Dude, that was awesome. I think you're fabulous." Mark later signed Joel to his label, Dream Dealers Records.
And, now, the self-titled debut album for Joel Turner And The Modern Day Poets, a magical musical tour, burning with the energy and urgency of the streets. Next stop, some live shows - wait till you see Joel beatboxing and playing guitar.
And, remember, this is just the beginning for Joel Turner And The Modern Day Poets. "We're building our foundation," they state in Up In The Studio, "making a name that'll last for ages ..."courtesy of Ferris Davies PRM