Stab Magazine | Will The Real Surf Rapper Please Stand Up!
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Will The Real Surf Rapper Please Stand Up!

“I’ve had people in LA threatening to shoot me and shit”

Words by stab

What’s the genre of music you most readily associate with surfing? Psych, alt-rock, pop? Whatever it is, it’s probably safe to assume it ain’t rap.  

Todd Mingramm, better known as ‘Slippery Surfa’ is trying to change that.

Step aside Slim Shady, there’s another white boy in town!

Before Todd took to rap he competed in the Pro Juniors and on the QS trying to make a dent on the comp circuit – he’s apparently undefeated against Ace Buchan – but after breaking his back at 17, Slipp turned his trade from surfing to rap. Not just rap in the broader sense either, Slipp has coined and cornered his very own niche in the predominantly non-white game.

He calls it ‘Surf Rap’ or ‘Surf Trap’  

In 2016, Slipp slid his way to number one on Australia’s Triple J Unearthed charts with, ‘Surfboard’. This wasn’t his only surf-centric single though, he’s had a second chart topper since and a flurry more on the way; if I can jam out seemingly endless articles about our small and inconsequential hobby then Slipp can hammer out several songs about it.

Slippery’s undeniably the best surf rapper alive. He is however the only one doing it. 

https://www.youtube.com/embed/A1eJqUhG9cY

After spiralling deep into the sinkhole that is Slippery’s YouTube channel, I decided Slipp wasn’t letting up on his relentless surf rap front. 

Slipp and myself got on an Instagram video chat this morning. He sprung up on my phone wearing a ‘FUCK RIPP CURL’ tee (sic) and we cut to business. Here’s the truncated conversation. 

Stab: So Slipp, when did you get into this whole Surf Rap scene?

Slipp: I was always free styling at Luke Weinert’s place when he would spin records, but when I broke my back and was forced not to quit competition I decided to take rap more seriously. I dropped my first official ‘surf rap’ on Triple J Unearthed in 2009.

Fuck, you broke your back? Heavy. How’d you do it?

When I was 17 I jumped off a huge rock [into the water] after my friend and rival did it, Blake Johnston. I was sponsored by Billabong at the time, but the the pain was too much to continue competing. 

Slippin n’ slidin. Photo: Rick Battson

You’re still surfing now though right?

I’m in Bali now surfing and doing a show. I still teach Surf n SUP and sell boards for a living. I surf as much as I can, still live 100 metres from the beach but music is priority for me now. 

Alright, back to surf rap. Are you the only rapper doing this genre?

This is my own genre, I made this up I’ve never heard anyone drop rap songs about surfing before. I’ve definitely developed something new. I hope more get into it and we have a bunch of us doing it!

https://www.youtube.com/embed/5svsy9ukv2s

Some people think I’m just taking the piss. I like joking about it too because some of it’s funny, but I’m serious about what I do. 

One of the boys [Michael Ciaramella] just text me about about the Vultures rap battles. What’s the deal there?

Bigger guys than that have beefed me. I’ve had gangbangers in LA threatening to shoot me and shit.

You’re kidding? 

I was recording an album in L.A and the producer got into heroin half way through the project. We had a deal on paper, but by the end of the project he was so strung out on the H he tried to change the deal and just wanted more and more money.

When he knew he couldn’t pull that he sent his goons to get me. I was getting death threats on the phone, Facebook messages from county jails and had gangbangers circling the apartment I was in for a week. I was recording  with another producer also at the time and they knew where I was recording and said they were gonna catch me and pop me when I was outside the studio. I could never get a parking spot close to the studio, so I was literally running to the studio from my car 10 mins down the street every day for like a month.

Shit was heavy.

That’s all sorted now though. One of the homies that was after me actually got shot 9 times when I left the country. He still alive actually.

Sounds just a tad heavier than the beef with Vultures. 

I actually don’t know Vultures and don’t know why he beefed me. 

Guess that he can spit a few bars and thought maybe he could get some clout by beefing me, which he did; no-one would know him if he didn’t beef me.

I don’t even know if he drops songs though. I just returned the battle that he started and left him wet! I’m sure he’s probably an okay dude but he got a lil salty after I murked him lyrically.

I’ve had this Prince of Montauk dude calling me out too. He’s a millionaire real estate agent and surfer. I’ve never met the dude but he messages me when he’s drunk and sounds like a little jealous schoolgirl. A lot going on.  

Heard Bliss from Bliss n Eso ripped a line from your surfboard song too, what’s the deal?

Yeah. I even confronted them about it and they just brushed it aside. 

I know Eso heard my song cause I played it to him at his house. Six months later Bliss drops a song with my line tweaked. It’s a blatant rip. They don’t even surf.

Bro I’m gonna call him out on Instagram right now. Fuck that [which Slipp proceeded to do and sent me the screenshot below]. 

 

[Check the 1 minute 30 mark, then slide back up to the top for comparative proof]

https://www.youtube.com/embed/Onaav11yqLY

With two number ones on Unearthed why have you never been played on the radio?

Yeah I don’t know man, I can’t explain that. I actually fronted up at the Triple J office recently. I literally took myself into the ABC knocked on Richard Kingsmill door and said ‘why haven’t you played me yet?’

If you know the station, it’s virtually impossible to get past security.

I slipped through though – as I do. 

I walked into his office and sat down next to him. He said ‘who are you?’.

If you hear the music they play it all sounds the same, we all know that. I’m on my own wave anyway, I don’t need em at all. 

What’s your thoughts on the music usually in surf clips? 

Mate I love all music so I’m happy to hear whatever with surfing, but it would be nice to hear something different for once. All the companies these days are doing similar shit.

Sounds and looks so boring! Also there are so many great surf musicians out there unacknowledged and still the companies choose to use the ‘safe’ song or the already known guy. 

Slippery Surfa outside his aquatic element. Photo: Lily Lytton

Well at least some pro surfers are backing your songs? That’s more important.

Yeah man the surfboard song I dropped got my the biggest following. Parko DM’d me and said he watched it with Mick Fanning and the Hazza twins and said ‘keep it up we love it!’

Ross Clarke Jones, Midget, Occy, Tom Carroll, Taylor Steele, Gorkin are all fans too. 

Some of them are watching my vids and aren’t following me though. Stop watching my vids Mick and Kelly and not following me [laughs]. 

[Laughs]… I back it. Ever taken a break? Nearly ten years is a long time.  

Nah I have never stopped. I’ve been gigging and putting out mixtapes the whole time. Did a song with Andy Milonakis with half a million views on YouTube, toured with Mac Miller, Dirt Nasty, Mickey Avalon , Kid Mac and Butterfingers

https://www.youtube.com/embed/X6T4FeIswEQ

I’m playing the Snapper event [no longer Quik Pro] next year supporting Mickey Avalon too. 

My goal is to do a song with Jack Johnson one day. 

What else you got planned?

Dropping my own clothing line SHRED GANG will be releasing heaps more swag, plus heaps of music on the way. Massive shoutout to my producer Nik Nikateen who has been my mentor through this and believed in me the whole way!

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