Interview: Rapper HUSKii BEN Battles His Demons On The ‘BRAiNUMB’ EP
One of our favourite releases of 2017.
Music 1y

Words by Christopher Kevin Au

On his harrowing new BRAiNUMB EP, local rapper HUSKii BEN offers a five-track insight into his reality, filled with drug-fuelled conflicts and suicidal flirtations.

Spitting rapid, red-eyed raps over slow-motion instrumentals, it’s a release that’s just as confronting as it is refreshing for the Australian rap scene. It also marks HUSKii BEN’s darkest release yet, where he clashes with his own personal demons through songs that will strike a chord with those who like their bars served raw and ominous.

With the BRAiNUMB EP currently picking up traction across the Internet, we connected with HUSKii BEN for his first ever interview to discuss his motivations behind the release and the process of mental healing through hip-hop:

Congrats on your BRAiNUMB EP. What has the reaction been so far?

Thankyou, my bro! Shit’s been good so far. People have been hitting me up and letting me know their favourite lyrics, sending me Snapchats of them smoking bongs to my shit, haha. About as good as it gets in Australia.

The EP focuses on some pretty heavy themes of addiction, abuse, relationship breakdowns and so forth. What are some of the life events which have inspired the tone of the EP?

Oh shit, we going deep! We could be here for days cuz, you’re a busy man, let’s not get into it haha. I grew up around this life. My parents are still heroin addicts to this day, my brother is the most violent man I’ve ever met, and my three little brothers have been spread over the country through docs. Nothing was ever steady coming up. My mum done eight years for attempted murder in South Australia. Dad’s still in and out, I just seen him in Darcy 2, Silverwater when I got locked up last year, haha.

A lot of cats say all my songs are the same, and they are just all emo about drugs and my girl. They’re right. I give no fucks, this is all I know. You sick of it after three songs? Try living it for 23 years. Aye?

Do you think that rapping helps you to heal in a way? Do you think it could help others going through similar events?

If I didn’t write this music, I would’ve wrote my last letter at 13. People hit me up all the time now, saying how my music has helped them and they even say thankyou and shit. Nah, thankyou! Everyone has their ways to heal with shit, all I know is that drugs isn’t one of them. The shit’s poison. Tell me a happy ending? I’ll wait.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESDf6tk7rw8

On the EP you have production ranging from throwback acoustic guitars to woozier, Southern-inspired stuff. What was your method behind your beat selection?

To be honest, I never thought anyone would listen to my music when I started jacking beats of Soundcloud. I don’t know what tempo or any of that shit means, I just hear something and I gotta have it. These days though, my homie Tanqueray Locc and lil bro Nic Chaney from the Central Coast, they hook me up.

Coming from the Wollongong area, what is the rap scene like? Does it feel like a unified movement or has it not reached that stage yet?

Wollongong scene is like Compton after The Chronic dropped, my dude. Fuck what any other local rapper says. I see kids spitting in the park in the middle of the day. I seen a dude at the main intersection of ‘Gong like ten times with a boom box and mic spitting bars – if you’re from Gong, you know this. Random crackheads run up on him all night to spit a quick 16. Little Kathmandu kids trying to be badmans spitting grime, I fucks with it.

It’s only getting better too. Wollongong will be like Campbelltown after Kerser battled 360. Watch the ‘Gong.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C72q_yVpyL4

Before the EP you had your 1take freestyle with Body Bag Media, and you also have videos on HustleHard TV. How important do you think it is for rappers to have these online platforms to be heard?

Massive shout out to HustleHard TV. Dude seen I was serious and gave me a chance. These things are like the backbone, I reckon. I’m always finding new dope rappers in Australia I wouldn’t of heard without these platforms. I just wanna shout out the OG, triple OG, Greely. Dude doesn’t just work to get himself heard like most of us do, he’s been grinding to get anyone in Australia with bars out there. Full sick cunt!

Some younger Australian MCs are finding it difficult to get booked for shows locally despite having hundreds of thousands, or even millions of views on their videos. What are your experiences with this and how can we change it?

I’m too scared to spit bars in front of my homies without three xannies, haha. I’ve never even thought about a show. How do you even do that? I probably would’ve just inboxed you for the plug, to be honest.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZt2er1M57k

A lot of the older heads have been praising you for being one of the better young MCs out at the moment. Who out of your colleagues are you also feeling from the latest generation of AUS rappers?

Much love to anyone who came before me. I spin out that they vibe it. Mitchos Da Menace, Wombat, Nerve – all these cunts are stepping the game up, I fucks with everyone. I have no beef or competition in this rap shit.

“First thing I wrote was a suicide note now the streets like, you beast on the mic/The reason I write/Is it keeps me alive/I ain’t never said shit for the people to like.” Anyone wanna rap battle hit my Snapchat, @kinghuskii – I’m easy to find, haha.

We imagine that you’re getting a lot of requests for collabos right about now. Are there any guest verses etc lined up for the future, or any dream artists you’re hoping to work with?

I don’t wanna give nothing away my bro, but a lot of US artist fuckin’ with me these days. We’ll see what happens.

What’s on the cards for HUSKii Ben for the rest of 2017?

Do my first live set and commit suicide on stage. Make sure you buy tickets.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rz1uLpGeF8Q

Words by Christopher Kevin Au May 3, 2017
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