Words by Christopher Kevin Au //
West Sydney rapper Elijah Yo delivered his most personal track yet in ‘Missed Calls,’ reflecting on the suicide of a high school friend in 2016. Rapping pensively over gentle keys, this is still Elijah’s most hard-hitting track, and acted as a promising precursor for his B Side project.
Shadow has been causing plenty of noise from the world’s most isolated city, and the Perth emcee recently connected with Melbourne heavyweight Tornts of Broken Tooth Entertainment. ‘No More’ hits like a freight train, and the blood red artwork is strikingly appropriate for a track as heavy-handed as this.
While this track was released in late 2017, it was given new life with a vivacious video back in April, where Ecca Vandal and Sampa The Great roam Sydney with their formidable girl gang. Sampa’s delivery is effortless and nonchalant, while Ecca adds some mesmerising melody for a head-nodding collaboration.
Slim Set are definitely one of West Sydney’s more eccentric emerging acts, and their tracks are filled with so much off-kilter charm that you can’t help but smile. Just see their recent single ‘Cooked’ where emcee Dev falls out of a garbage bin, and lays down verses filled with weird onomatopoeia.
Since being uploaded a month ago, ‘Underrated’ has already snatched close to 400,000 views on YouTube. Representing the best of Australia’s unsigned hype, ChillinIt and Wombat state their case on a typically abrasive track that features head-spinning flows and footage from their rambunctious shows around the country. Underrated, indeed.
Canberra heartthrob Turquoise Prince delivers a smooth slice of R&B on his latest single ‘Lighter,’ built on an infectious and intimate hook that swirls around the metaphorical fire. It’s certainly more downplayed than his breakout single ‘Like Your Friends,’ but we’re thinking that many will prefer the lounging tempo on ‘Lighter.’
This just might be the best collaboration between Huskii and Lil Sknow, where they transform the classic servo run into something a little more sinister. ‘Servo’ is instantly quotable and already an underground anthem, while the one-shot video is polished yet raw. Spoiler: Features chocolate bar robbery.
Kymie is another talent representing Bodega Collective and Mozaick Records, who also count rappers Raj Mahal, Kwame and Phil Fresh among their rosters. Kymie’s R&B approach is much more tender, as shown on her third single ‘Deeper’ where she wears her heart on her sleeve with buttery results.
Arno Faraji may only be 18 years old, but he’s already performed at the likes of Groovin The Moo after winning the national triple j Unearthed High competition. Now, he’s levelling up once again with dancefloor-driven single ‘Bless’ featuring two of his heroes, Remi and Sensible J. The future looks bright for this one.
Triple One may have earned their stripes with snarling underground rap hits, but ‘Tarlo’ takes a more melodic route for a pleasant surprise. ‘Tarlo’ has been flogged on triple j as of late, and while it relies more on an R&B flavour, their core fans will be satisfied with a brash verse at its conclusion.
Kwame has a reputation for shutting down shows with his high-energy sets, something which he’ll look to replicate at his upcoming Splendour in the Grass set. When his Endless Conversations EP dropped earlier this year, it was his slick duet ‘Coffee’ which stole the show, starring his soulful labelmate Mel Bailey.
Melbourne crew 3K are starting to build a healthy buzz around their hometown, and with ‘Woof!’ they show enough energy and endearing charisma to have the country tuning in. They’ve just released their Don’t Panic EP along with a gig at Saint Side clothing store, and as expected, ‘Woof!’ went off – watch the evidence here.
Nerve just might be Brisbane’s most proficient double-threat, an emcee and producer who works his talents across the board with convincing results. His Sober album is still fresh in our ears, and among the best tracks is ‘Where You Been’ where he enlists frequent collaborator, ChillinIt.
Spit Syndicate haven’t taken a break, returning swiftly in 2018 with their album Orbit where the veterans remain hungry as ever. They’ve been touring across the country with Turquoise Prince, which makes sense given that he graces album opener ‘Wonderland’ alongside Jimmy Nice & Nick Lupi’s typically confident verses.
Sydney rap veteran NTER brings his TrapRunners colleagues on board for the aptly-titled ‘Trap Talk,’ and by now, you know what to expect: It’s grimy, direct and unapologetically underground. With a TrapRunners album reportedly on the way, expect more malicious street anthems from the clique.
Tasman Keith has been releasing mixtapes since 2014, but it wasn’t until 2017 that he dropped his debut single ‘Might Snap’ and it’s been even bluer skies since then. ‘My Pelopolees’ is a stirring ode to his family and the Indigenous spirit, combined with contemporary rap influences and a triumphant message.
Nardean spent much of Creatress EP blending her love of hip-hop and spoken word, exploring the space between her Arabic roots and upbringing in Australia. It’s a project that’s sure to connect with Australia’s multicultural youth and fans of a more organic sound, as shown on the soulful lead single, ‘Pyramids.’
Manu Crooks has drawn more international attention than the vast majority of his peers, and with good reason: His thick, trap-tinged sound has destroyed dancefloors across the country, and his more laid-back cut ‘Fuego’ is equally as effective, with guitar strings and some smooth serenading from Anfa Rose.
In 2018, Baker Boy opened for 50 Cent. Absolutely huge. If that wasn’t enough, his bilingual single ‘Mr. La Di Da Di’ is a funk-filled anthem, with enough bass and groove to kickstart any house party. It’s lively, colourful and screams of summer, with Baker Boy’s wide grin leaving its mark.
Mitchos Da Menace is ice cold on ‘Heartless,’ a succinct, two-minute track where he raps atop the haunting production from The Fugees’ ‘Ready or Not.’ The overcast offering has us ready for his upcoming Silence EP, where we expect him to reclaim his West Sydney throne once again.