Hometown Invaders

11 April 2012 | 12:17 pm | Aleksia Barron

The debut album from Melbourne hip hop duo Justice & Kaos has been hotly anticipated since 2007 – perhaps one of the longest lead times for such an important release. MC Justice (also known as Christian Ng), had built a reputation as a prolific battle rapper. Teaming up with school friend, MC/producer Kaos (Rohit Mukerjea), they formed the duo affectionately known as J&K.

By the mid-2000s, they were firmly entrenched in the local hip hop scene, particularly Ng, who won the 2005 Scribble Jam MC Battle – the first non-American to take out the title. When Justice & Kaos released their debut EP Turn It Up in 2007, it seemed that grand success could only be just around the corner. They received an ARIA nomination (Best Urban Release) and were named Best New Artist at the Aus/NZ Urban Music Awards.

However, instead of bursting out of the gates with the expected follow-up debut album and constant tours, the duo went quiet. “We kind of lay dormant for a while,” says Ng. “We were sort of in a situation with our label at the time – which was a major label – where we didn't really feel like we were getting the support we needed.”

Perhaps it's not that surprising that mainstream Australian record labels hadn't yet worked out how to deal with the burgeoning local hip hop phenomenon (even the Hilltop Hoods were still climbing the mountain – The Hard Road was released a year earlier in 2006). Ng, however, sees the quiet period as ultimately beneficial to the duo. “It gave us an opportunity to learn the business, learn how it all worked. So even though between 2007 and 2009 we didn't really put much out, we were still learning a lot about the industry.” However, he readily admits that it allowed Justice & Kaos to fade from prominence. “We weren't at the forefront of anyone's minds, we weren't putting ourselves out there.”

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

That changed in 2010 with the release of Theme Music, their second EP, which Ng describes as “a bit of an album prelude.” However, a debut LP still hadn't come together. “We both work full-time, so finding that time to work in the studio has always been a struggle.”

Determined to find a way to break through their blockers, Ng and Mukerjea decided to take inspiration from US rap projects such as Crooked I's Hip Hop Weekly and Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Friday. They created the Home indVasian project, where they released a new song every week for 30 weeks.

The fans responded – the Home indVasian tracks surged in popularity, and the duo began to realise that mainstream attention wasn't vital to help them spread their message.

Now, they're excited to be getting back on the road. “The last year has been particularly busy, churning out a track a week, and we're just looking forward to getting out and doing shows after being stuck in the studio for so long,” says Ng. He also promises that the long-awaited debut album isn't far off (and means it this time!). As proof, they'll be trying out a couple of the songs on their upcoming tour: “We'll do a couple of tracks from the album at the shows,” promises Ng.

Now that they're back in the thick of things, Justice & Kaos plan to stay here. “We want to finish the album ASAP and get that out,” says Ng. There are also plans for a mixtape in the coming months, and a possible Home indVasian 2 project.