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I’d like to open this post with the statement that I’ve had a few drinks tonight.
With that in mind, bear with me.
I just got home from Urthboy’s Melbourne gig. He’s on tour, raising a bit of hype for his upcoming album, Smokey’s Haunt.
Please, excuse the dramatism, but this was the best hip hop gig I’ve ever been to. I saw Hilltop last weekend, I’ve seen 360, Phrase, Horrorshow, Drapht, Pez and a shit ton of others worth mentioning, but this was the best. No other artist speaks to me the way this man does. I almost don’t want to talk about it. If you don’t know Urthboy and hip hop is your thing, buy The Signal and Spitshine. I guarantee, you’ll thank me.
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First entry into GHC weekly comp, topic was ‘inspiration’. Very rough. But it’s a start…
Check out the debut battle of a mate from Alice, Skank MC. Kudos, absolutely smashes it! Looking forward to seeing the next one brother!
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I tend to get a little verbose when I write about hip hop, so consider this both an apology and a disclaimer; my bias on this topic is something I will readily admit to. This is never more apparent then when I talk about The Hilltop Hoods, the band who some would say jumpstarted Australian Hip Hop into the national consciousness with their classic ‘Nosebleed Section’, back in 2003.
It was this song that inspired my appreciation for rap, and throughout the years I can safely say there has not been a single band or MC who has surpassed the HH boys in my eyes.
While they were certainly not the first Australian rappers, and before their success there was of course a strong underground hip hop scene in Australia—it was the Hilltop Hoods who paved the way for the meteoric rise of rappers like Drapht and 360.
The secret to the Hoods success is their ability to blend seriously impressive wordplay with tunes that can resonate with a wider audience; something that I believe has influenced a new generation of Australian hip hop artists (and which certainly inspired me too).
In 2008, the Hoods split from label Obese Records to form their own independent label, Golden Era Records, which now has several of Australia’s rising MC’s and DJ’s signed, including Vents, The Funkoars, Briggs and Adfu.
‘State Of The Art’ was their first album on their own label, and since its release and success they have been relatively quiet. As Suffa says: “Founded a label now I’m drowning in paperwork…”
However, after 3 long years, March 2012 saw the release of ‘Drinking From The Sun’, the Hoods sixth studio album. It went gold in it’s first week and has been certified platinum, making it their 3rd chart topping album.
Ok, enough back-story. You can understand now why I had very high expectations—but also had a few fears. While ‘State Of The Art’ was certainly a great album, I found that it didn’t grab me nearly as much as their earlier offerings had. The scales of pop and rap seemed to have tipped a little too much to the pop side of things for me to fully engage with the LP.
In addition to this I was drawing unconscious parallels between the Hoods and one of Aussie hip hops other success stories—the much loved/much hated 360, whose change from hip hop to some weird kind of pop rap has seen him achieve huge mainstream success but lose credibility with the more traditional parts of the scene. Listen to ‘Subtle Way Of Suicide’ off his first LP and compare it to ‘Hammerhead’ from ‘Falling And Flying’—it is hard to believe that they come from the same artist. I guess I had a fear that ‘Drinking From The Sun’ would follow down that same path, but that didn’t stop me from pre-ordering the album months ago (which is a ridiculous thing to do on iTunes, like they are going to run out of digital copies…)
My excitement was only heightened by the early release of their first single ‘I Love It’ which made it to number 10 on the JJJ Hottest 100 and fast become one of my most played songs on rotation. But it wasn’t a song that clicked with me straight away. It took me a few plays to really feel the track, but once I did, I Loved It. (Groan…)
In many ways, this is mirrored across the album. I didn’t like it straight away. The sound is very different, especially when compared to an album like ‘The Calling’, and even for someone who listens to Hip Hop of all variations the style took a little getting used too.
The Hoods have ventured into different territory with this new album, with sounds and rhyme structures that are unmistakably theirs but that have changed massively from their earlier releases.
From the title track to ‘The Underground’ there is a definite feel and theme that takes this album into more an expression of the Hoods state of mind then a run of the mill LP. Every song follows the theme of a change in the culture of hip hop, and the tracks reflect this, showing an evolution of the art form, rather than a reinvention of it. ‘Drinking From The Sun’ is a metaphor for a culture that has come out of the underground and is finding its feet on the surface, and weaves through every song.
While I may be taking this too far, I really see this album as providing the basis for the next generation of Australian rappers, bridging that gap between music that is mainstream, and music that is hip hop. By allowing their style to evolve and not just rapping over traditional beats, The Hilltop Hoods will reach a wider audience then ever before—but they have managed to do it in a fashion that doesn’t lose their position as definitive Australian Hip Hop artists.
The Hoods are currently in the middle of their US tour, doing sold out shows across the country. There are also quite blatant hints that there will be a second LP coming out soon.
I’m very excited to see what happens next.
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He never thought he’d think of killing himself,
But he had’ve doubted anything to do with his health,
Wasn’t never that kind of gentlemen that needed help,
Just an everyday bloke trying to handle what he’d been dealt.
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I might not be the coolest
I might not be the flyest
The most likely to succeed
I’m definitely not the best.
But there will never be another footprint on the surface of the earth
Quite the same as mine.
And thats the only claim that I’m walking out of here with.
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She’s glamorous but casually dressed,
A tall figure with immaculate legs,
Yes I think she’s a stunner with a capital ‘S’,
I wonder if she’s down for premarital sex?
And I got sold on the concept of a life without stress
But it’s the hardest thing to find and I aint close enough yet
Its real, I can taste it and I’m gonna keep trying
Like Jobsy said, gotta live your life like you’re dying.
So I’m gonna take this opportunity to just say what I think
It’s an expression of self, like the tattoos and the ink.
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She tries to help him she doesn’t choose to flee the car,
And catches a blow with enough bruise to leave a scar,
She starts fainting, the rooms moving and seeing stars,
Aint it amazing how courageous human beings are?
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