Manu Venn, manager of VENNM Entertainment and the brains behind its inaugural Ruckus 1.0 event, has a long background in music.
“A lot of it came from my dad, who was pretty involved in music back in the day with Blue Moon Records,” he says. “He specialised in imported music – reggae, Afrikaans, Latin – so I had a pretty eclectic upbringing with music.”
Despite his varied exposure to music, Venn was drawn to hip hop in his teens and found the likes of Wu Tang Clan and Biggie Smalls spoke to him in a way no other genre could. “People didn’t take Australian hip hop very seriously in the early ‘00s,” he says. “But I remember being drawn to it immediately and wanted to be a part of it.”
What Venn discovered in the sound and community would influence him to begin his own event, Ruckus 1.0, providing a platform to showcase the plethora of talent in Melbourne.
“It was pretty niche, those early ‘00s, especially Melbourne stuff. People like Bias B and Pegz from Obese rehearsed on trains, and it was really connected with graph culture back then.
“Growing up in the inner city, I felt connected to it – living on that train line, the Hurstbridge train line, I could identify, because a lot of the stuff was about that line. It felt comfortable and it felt like something I could connect with.”
Ruckus 1.0 aims to do a similar thing – it’s an event for people who also love Australian hip hop to be able to feel connected. “It’s kind of [for] the next generation,” explains Venn. “This generation of consumers are a lot more engaged than we were back in the day – a couple of these acts are in that 20 to 23 age bracket, and it’s pretty cool to see how engaged and connected to music they are.
“When I was their age, it wasn’t like that. And when you spoke about hip hop especially, it wasn’t taken seriously at all, yet the kids that are coming to the gigs nowadays, it’s good to see them connecting, engaging a lot more than even ten years ago.
Stepping into a brand-new decade means events like Ruckus 1.0 might shape what happens in the next ten years. Some of the acts Venn has appearing at Ruckus 1.0, like Denno, Motley, and Ghostsoul, are all Melbourne-based performers, and are all already well connected with the scene.
“They’ve all worked with each other before and are all coming up,” says Venn. “Nine 2 Five Records, I’ve been around since their inception in an unofficial capacity, booking them for a couple of festivals a few years back. My cousin [Tahu Stormer aka The Primitive One] is an MC in that group.
“He got a lot of music influences from me and started producing from a fairly early age. Since he stepped it up and started performing a lot more, I wanted to come aboard in a more official capacity with that crew.
“They started to make connections with other crews in Melbourne, like The Rascal Collective which are another northern suburb outfit. They’ve worked with Motley, who’s been around for a while – he used to do youth work with teens back in the day, so some of the performers met him through that work and started recording with him.”
The network of musicians that Venn has invited to Ruckus 1.0 are already upholding what the event looks to share.
“It’s really good to see this sort of crop of artists building their own platforms,” he says. “The older generation of hip hop guys in Melbourne, they paved the way for these kids and now all these guys are super hungry to create their own scene.
“They want to build their own connections, their own labels, and they’re already doing that, it’s awesome to see. Putting that together was easy to do because we’ve already got a solid foundation.”
See the next generation of Aussie rappers perform as part of Ruckus 1.0 at Laundry Bar on Thursday October 31. Tix available at the door. For more info, head to the Facebook event.