It was hip-hop in the 1990s and lack of vocal talent that drew young Spriga Mek into Papua New Guinea’s emerging rap scene.
“Honestly, I got into hip-hop when I realized I couldn’t sing,” the Papua New Guinea-born and raised artist said in an interview with Nesia Daily.
“It’s just a fact, brother,” he laughed.
”[Hip-hop] It was easier for me to speak in rhythmic patterns, so I understood it more naturally. ”
The artist, whose real name is Alan Overmau, said it was American hip-hop artist Nas who ignited his passion for the genre.
“It was around 1996 or 1997, when I was in elementary school. The first CD I got was Nas’ Illmatic album,” he said.
“When I heard this, I fell in love with hip-hop culture, the genre of hip-hop, and all of hip-hop. So I started writing raps when I was in elementary school.”
Sprigga Mech recently picked his hit “Dodge the Bullet” to be featured at the Mother Tongue Film Festival in Washington to see his work reach audiences around the world.
However, the multilingual rapper said he faced “a lot of slamming” for his passion in his early days.
“When I was in grade school, everyone thought I was trying to look African-American, and that was really interesting,” he said.
“So it wasn’t easy to come up with. People made fun of it and thought [I’m] Show off or try to get attention.
“But that’s just what intrigued me about storytelling and all the elements of hip-hop.
“How they use storytelling, how they can paint a picture with words, etc. And that really inspired me.”
Transition to native wrap
But what put him “on the map” was the overwhelming response to his first song in his native language.
Sprigga Mech raps in English, Pidgin, and the home language of his father and mother. Mekeo and Motu, and the fifth language, Aroma.
“After hearing that [American hip hop group] Cypress Hill, I thought, dude, they’re doing it in their own jargon, so I should try that too,” he said.
“At PNG, everyone knew me through the song, so that was my area of expertise since 2012 and 2011.
“It’s always special when you speak in my language, because people, especially people from your own country, tend to identify with the language.”
Any advice for aspiring rappers?
“I always tell them… to create something unique,” he told Necia Daily.
”[Have] It sounds so unique that anyone who hears you knows it’s you and it’s unmistakable.
“And one of the main [pieces of advice] I tell them why follow the crowd when they can follow you. ”
Sprigga Mek’s new album, Kanaka Messenjah, is due out in August.