Celebrating a decade of accomplishments, the dynamic duo of Momo and Azmarino have quite a busy schedule ahead of them. The ground-breaking Melbourne hip-hop combination have pioneered their second album, Pocket Full Of Dreams, with an unfathomable work ethic, which is bound to pay dividends for the duo.
One half of the pair, Momo, broke down the decade long journey, giving some insight onto their latest release, “when we first started Diafrix 10 years ago, we had a vision that we wanted to make music and watch it grow. It’s a dream we had back then and it’s the same thing that’s been keeping us going for the last 10 years” said the MC.
Featuring a who’s who of Melbourne music identities, Pocket Full Of Dreams not only showcases a true display of talent, but demonstrates how close-knit the Melbourne music community is. The release is blessed with cameos from fellow Melbourne MC 360, hip-hop pioneer N’Fa Jones and urban artist Daniel Merriweather as well as an extensive list of renowned producers, such as M-Phazes and Styalz Fuego.
The album is just another ticked box for the pair, with eyes fixed on the future. “It feels great. We’re really happy with the way it sounds” says the west Melbourne rapper.
However, the transition from backyard rapper to first class performers has taken them through some ups and downs, as the MC later added, “as musicians, you know, it’s hard, sometimes you have a grind. Sometimes you don’t make a lot of money, but it’s one thing that’s motivated us.”
Spawning such a unique hip-hop style, the partnership has drawn on numerous influences, not only musically but socially, to hone in on their craft. The easy going aura surrounding Momo is one of many things helping nourish the distinctiveness of the couple.
Like many, the group has drawn on early musical influence to shape their style; “Coming from an African background, music has always been around me,” a grateful Momo enthuses. ”I remember being a young kid and playing air guitar to Bob Marley songs. It’s always been a part of my family. I’m so blessed to be able to record the music.”
Performing to their first sell-out crowd may be one of many things on the pair’s bucket list, but sitting well above that is Diafrix’s passion and enthusiasm in building a community of musicians, working together for music’s sake.
Commenting on the importance of unity in the Australian hip-hop scene, the Footscray artist avidly says, “It’s really important to us. Seven years ago it was really segregated. You either conform or you don’t fit in. It hasn’t always been easy, everyone has grinded”.
Faced with adversity, the duo has never taken a backwards step in maintaining their dreams; “We’ve always done our own thing and been true to ourselves, that makes this new album so much more rewarding”.
One of the great things you notice about Diafrix is their enthusiasm to not only live their own dreams, but help nurture the dreams of others by sharing the wealth of knowledge they themselves have been gifted by those before them. Momo now says it’s time to give it back.
“Me and Azmarino are motivated by passing it on. The power of words is amazing. You can move people; you can do so much. We have a dream, but there’s nothing stopping others from sharing that dream or building their own.”
Commenting on the progress of the increasingly expanding Australian hip-hop scene, it was obvious Momo’s excitement was hard to contain. “It’s just getting bigger and bigger. You see so many artists getting involved; we need that. The great thing about Australian hip hop now is its branching out, like a wild flower.”
In an industry predominately dominated by rock culture, Momo had nothing but praise for artists such as Adelaide hip-hop royalty, Hilltop Hoods, who the MC credited to being a pioneer in taking the genre to new heights, “[they] really broke down the ground.”
“Like their recent release,” he says of ‘Rattling The Keys To The Kingdom’, ” I lost my shit when we were asked to be a part of that. This is what we need, we have to help each other and help build what we have here” Momo added, as his level of exhilaration reached a new high.
One thing that the group holds in high regard is their influence on young fans, often those of non-Australian background with limited opportunities.
“The sweetest thing I find is having a young kid come up to me and say ‘man, I listen to your songs and I can totally relate to what you’re saying,’ that is priceless.”
No doubt, fans caught a true display of the Diafrix spirt when the duo played a showcase, which kicked off in Hobart on the 5th of October.
An eager Momo confessed his love for our southern state, “Tassie is awesome; it’s one of our favourite crowds. There is never anyone sitting at the back, everyone is involved. [We] love playing in Hobart, it’s our first sold-out show.”
Perhaps the other states have a thing or two to learn from our brothers across the strait.
On the topic of learning, Momo revealed another of his side projects. Contrasting the MC’s musical talent, he reluctantly revealed his extreme sporting skills (or lack thereof). “I’ve just picked up skateboarding, but, I’m actually pretty shit.”
How shit? “I bailed the other day and nearly lost my teeth.” Let’s pray he drops his hobby before realising it could impede on his real talent, which is cultivating Australia’s hip hop scene for the better.
Pocket Full Of Dreams is out now through Illusive, read the Tone Deaf review here. Diafrix are currently on tour and play Newcastle’s Great Northern Hotel tonight, Friday 26 October, then Sydney’s GoodGod the following night. Full dates and details here. They are also playing Homebake 2012 this December.