Clear your mind of preconceptions about rap. Picture The Streets, the mock stars of Flight of the Conchords and Dr Seuss spawning a new band. An unpolished band. A live hip-hop band — with no DJ — composed mainly of expats who live in Taichung. The one Taiwanese member is bass player Molly Lin (林孟珊).
Meet Dr Reniculous Lipz and the Scallyunz.
Their new CD, Journey to the East, was released in Taipei on Saturday night at VU Livehouse. Supporting acts at the party included alt-country Point 22 (.22), which also plays with the Scallyunz, and alternative rock, blues and funk outfit New Hong Kong Hair City.
Dr Lipz and the Scallyuns’ live show had a jam band feeling that was a bit chaotic at times and could have done with more rehearsal to work out some of the kinks with the wide array of musicians performing.
With lyrics like, “For your majesties pleasure getting highnesses/Rizla licking when I’m kicking it with herbalists,” it seemed a case of life imitating art as we held an interview on my patio at the end of last month while Dr Lipz (Nick Sylvester) and Daddy Fat Saks (Gavin Poole) were visiting Taipei. Both are Londoners, with Lipz hailing from the UK and Saks from Ontario, Canada.
Lipz is the slighter of the two, fair, and gregarious — wordy, as befits the lyricist and rapper of the group.
Saks, large, dark and calm, is more reticent. He is the hype man in the band.
What exactly does a hype man do?
“I was bought with a white towel. [The] hype man is the guy in the show who shouts and repeats what the guy who is rapping says. You’ve got to have a white towel. Once we had a band, I had to start singing,” Saks says, looking mournful. “I occasionally play a cowbell, a triangle, an ocarina!”
He is a natural in this role, often finishing Lipz’s sentences. It’s difficult to get a straight answer to questions; these gentlemen are not hip-hop posturing in their songs, they are off-the-wall whether on the CD, onstage or on a stranger’s rooftop.
The song Burn Your Moneymaker is a little disturbing and references anal sex.
“Primarily it’s supposed to be funny. People come to have fun, you should be having fun, too,” Lipz says. He “can’t believe how misogynistic” hip-hop can be, and says that, his English accent becoming quite prim, “everyone has lost their manners.” The song parodies typical bling and bitches hip-hop that “women get up and dance to,” Lipz says.
“[It’s] supposed to be a joke. I’m 34 years old. I used to be an English teacher. I write poetry,” Lipz says. He smiles. “Yeah, I write poetry. I pick daisies. I like windy walks. Someone smashing one of my nuts. These are things I’m into.”
“I’d rather smash in one of my nuts with a prosthetic limb than witness the depravity of ladies’ night at Carnegie’s again,” Lipz says. He vents in Burn:
A daddy that was fatter better get
Ching ching oink oink nudge nudge
Cause I’m a swine I gotsta get mine
The piggy getting jiggy with the
wimin and the wine
Lipz has lived in Taichung for four years. When he first performed in Taiwan, the staff at the venue had “never heard of a party MC.” At one gig they made him don a “shot thing on my back and serve drinks. I was completely humiliated, though I would drink from the thing.”
He came up with the Chinese moniker The White Monkey King (白悟空) soon after: “Like the monkey with the organ grinder, Taiwanese threw coins at me. ‘Hey look at me, I’m the white monkey!’ standing there and sweating for 18 people.”