Image by James Ruklis
This article originally appeared on Noisey Australia.
In the last few months I’ve clicked on at least five articles titled something like “The New Wave Of Aussie Hip-Hop,” only to be bitterly disappointed. In the last two years? The number’s infinite. Why are the same rappers repeatedly being rewarded with hype when there’s so much more out there?
On the slightly-less disappointing side you’ve got Acclaim, Boss Hunting and Tone Deaf all posting Remi, Baro, Sampa The Great & Allday pretty damn often (mixed in with a few rarer picks). Young, important, great artists, sure… But when one percent of a “wave” gets 99 percent of local media support, it really doesn’t encourage innovation.
On the “where’d I leave my noose?” side of things you’ve got Howl & Echoes claiming that Briggs, L-Fresh the Lion & Diafrix are “changing the game.” Not to mention Triple J… The last 10 rap songs they played were by—at the time of writing—Drapht, L-Fresh The Lion, Man Made Mountain, Sampa The Great, Koi Child, Remi, Drapht again, Baro & Jamie T.
This might look like a decent playlist, but I think that’s the problem. Apart from Remi, Sampa & Baro (who’ve obviously reluctantly stumbled into some sort of media monopoly) you’ve got a whole lot of cringe, served with a side of decent nostalgia-rap.
Let me be clear: I respect all of these publications, the artists they feature, and I kind of understand where they're coming from. My only problem is with the lack of sonic diversity here. I’m unhealthily obsessed with this part of our culture and think these organisations are getting more and more disconnected with 16–24-year-old influencers by the minute.
Musically, there’s not much new about a lot of these rappers. All the young creatives I know listen to critically-befuddling US musicians like: Young Thug, Lil Yachty, Chief Keef & Shake 070 right now. These are the artists currently pushing global rap culture, fashion and music itself as an art-form into new territory. They are hugely popular all over the world with people under 25. Sonically, current Australian rappers like Sydney’s Big Skeez (below) never get Triple J airplay and are completely misunderstood by our local music media.
The 60s equivalent to this movement housed forward-thinkers like The Velvet Underground, The Beach Boys, and The Doors. In 2016, rap is a very important cultural resource. Every Velvet Underground equivalent that comes out of Australia is a huge asset to this country.
It’s pretty clear that the local hip-hop we’re repeatedly fed by Howl & Echoes, Triple J and every douchie snap-back guy’s car-window sounds like it came from a much older era.
The good news: there actually is a new wave of 14-22 year-old Australians (most of African, Asian or Indian descent) that are currently pushing musical boundaries in hip-hop… Even though they get almost no love.
Why no love? Maybe I’m crazy? More likely scenario: most of the people running music publications are in their late 20s to early 30s, and grew up graffing to old-school or hating rap altogether. This is changing rapidly though; I have seen the odd dope article pop up recently.
I made a playlist to help my case. Consider it an introduction to the real new-wave of Australian hip-hop. A wave born in bedrooms, not overpriced studios.
These artists seriously have the potential to break the US Billboard charts, cement Australia’s place as a cultural capital and more importantly: give a new generation of bogans, Muslims, Africans, Asians, Indians and Aboriginal Australians a much needed commonality.
There’s nothing special about rap, but it is effectively the most wide-reaching art-form of our time, so we might as well put it to good use.