Interview: 360 Chats Ten Years Of ‘Falling & Flying’ & The Future Of Aussie Hip Hop
Music 4w

The legend continues…

Aussie hip hop. It’s a genre quick on the rise in the local scene, domestic and international exports like ONEFOUR, The Kid LAROI and so many more indoctrinating us in their unique blends of rhythmic precision and lyricism as they put their own spin on the genre that’s taken the world by storm. The future of Aussie hip hop is bright to say the least, but it took a lot of work for it to get there, and Melbourne MC 360 is one of the few who helped pave the way.

Today he’s celebrating the tenth anniversary of his monumental album Falling & Flying with a ten-year anniversary re-release along with two unreleased songs. It’s the record that spawned hits ‘Boys Like You’ and ‘Child,’ and it’s safe to say the muso veteran is feeling a sense of pride as he looks upon the current state of Aussie hip hop. And you can’t really blame him, the numerous pop and electro elements he was painting with back then being at the forefront of the local rap scene today, so much so that you’d think Falling & Flying was released in the past week.

Well, enough of our fangirling. We caught up with 360 to take a trip down memory lane for the tenth anniversary and vinyl repress. But before we do that, check out our full journey into the album’s every nook and cranny below. 

Starting with the soul-sample reminiscent ‘Take Off,’ 360 helps you fall into his world with pitched-up vocals and melancholic strings. That is of course before the beat switch into the frenzied synths and stabs, 360s laid back flow soundtracking his desire to step into himself, to ‘get my rap on.’ Long story short, old mate more than gets it on throughout the 18-track record (with two unreleased gems), so much so that the sky well and truly ends up ‘falling down.’ 

It’s not just an album for the shoulder-to-shoulder mosh pits, but it’s perfectly suited to those poolside parties despite the personal subject matter. ‘I’m OK’ has us craving a good espresso martini and a half. It’s a constellation of electronic effects and sonics, laying a backing for 360 to communicate to us that despite all he’d gone through to get this album to us, he’s well and truly ‘OK.’ 

He follows it up with a personal favourite, ‘ Just Got Started’ ft. Pez, showcasing his ability to groove and craft feel-good tunes that pack a hell of a punch. His chemistry with Pez on the track is intoxicating as well, the two trading offerings back and forth as they build each other up, a sentiment similarly repeated on the soul-driven ‘Throw It Away’ ft. Josh Pyke. 

Then of course comes the album smashes ‘Child’ and ‘Boys Like You,’ both just as infectious all these years later. Upon relistening it’s apparent this was and continues to be one of 360s greatest strengths; his ability to spit bars atop pop beats and actually pull it off. No matter the lyrical content or instrumentalisations, it all comes across super real, hence why these two tracks were absolutely impossible to escape back in the early 2010s. 

I mean, just think of ‘Boys Like You’ ft. Gossling. It was as poppy as could be, but the masses gravitated towards it so hard it ended up being the biggest song of 2011. Of course, it’s 360 at his strongest, his playing off Gossling’s hook making for a concoction of sweet catchiness.

The Melbourne muso keeps that hype going on ‘Killer,’ the electro-pop influences shining through as floor-to-the-floor basslines and chord progressions put dance to the forefront. Just listening to it we’re imagining a pre-lockout Kings Cross venue going absolutely off to this, everyone jumping in time as 360 roars the hook ‘Killer.’ It was one of the first genre-crossovers on the record, a combination of which Falling & Flying is in no short supply of. 

But Falling & Flying isn’t just high energy, rather, it’s got the emotional depth to match. It’s especially apparent on the title track, the slow burn filled with confessional bars, gritty guitars and autotuned vocals as 360 outlines the stories he’s seen in his life, the ones that contributed to his mental state in 2011.

Following cuts ‘Run Alone,’ ‘Hammer Head’ and ‘Meant To Do’ all bubble with the electro seasoning outlined in the earlier tracks, all varying in brilliant execution. From the indie-rock elixir of ‘Run Alone’ to the crushing 808s and synths of ‘Hammer Head’ and the uplifting chords of ‘Meant To Do, the ‘Boys Like You’ rapper proves his salt as a creative, showcasing his versatility as a curator of beats. And of course, his flow adapts and wrap around each with beautiful adaptability, slick rhymes and bars spread throughout that maintain a mantra of consistency; one that helped underpin the genesis of Falling & Flying as a whole.

It’s the tail end of an album where the most can go wrong. Naturally, you’d assume a rapper would play to the most surefire and guaranteed means of hooking the listener AKA bangers on bangers. But contrary to many of his peers at the time, 360 falls back on his emotional resonance and heart, tracks like ‘Miracle In A Costume,’ ‘Hope You Don’t Mind’ and ‘Please Forgive Me’ some of the most emotionally poignant moments on the record. We especially adore the child-like vocals on the hook of a ‘Miracle In A Costume,’ the innocence shining through as 360 raps in support and nurturance of it. 

Finally, we reach the final track ‘Broken Wings,’ one of the most meditative cuts on the record. The minimal beat and 360s ethereal vocals finding a moment of peace after the journey of the album. The transition from synth nirvana to guitar-heavy madness at around 4 minutes is done super tastefully as well, almost going out in a blaze of glory as you send it into the next dimension.

Special shoutout to unreleased cuts ‘Teach Me More’ and ‘Playing In My Head’ as well, both of which filled with the uplifting pop sensibilities 360 so expertly demonstrates throughout Falling & Flying, Seeing them included on the tracklist of the tenth-anniversary re-release makes it truly come full circle, giving you an added appreciation for just how impactful Falling & Flying was in 2011, and how its effects are still being felt all of these years later. 

Now, check out our full chat with the hip hop don below. 

Happy ten years! How are we feeling on the nostalgia levels? 

It’s bringing back a lot of memories, especially because I don’t really listen to my old music much. So, listening to it again has been like a time machine. Just going back to when we made it and that whole period has been a blast and so much fun. It’s been good to reminisce.

Doing all of this press and reliving the album, has it evoked any new realisations or understandings of ‘Falling & Flying’? 

I don’t know if I look at it differently, but I’ve learnt a lot through revisiting that album. I still remember when we were talking about promoting it and what songs were going to be the singles. I never thought ‘Boys Like You’ or ‘Child’ would actually get played on the radio. So it taught me that instead of going with what you think people are going to like, go with the songs that you love the most. And that’s the best way to go about choosing singles. 

Before we dip into the album, I think it’s important to note that this was one of Australia’s first major hip hop albums that crossed over into the mainstream. Do you ever think about it in those larger terms?

I did an interview and the person said it was a “ground-breaking album that had changed the game forever, “and it’s hard to think of myself as making something like that. But if I separate myself from it, I can see how it did. At that time there was a very specific sound to Aussie hip hop, so commercialized stuff was very frowned upon in the hip hop world. For me, it was a very big internal battle from my background to do a complete switch up into more poppy stuff and with heaps of different elements in. In my head, I thought people would think that I was a sell-out.  

That was a big concern of mine. It was a big hurdle to get over and it was hard to get over it. But in the end, I realised I’d be selling out if I was not doing what I wanted to do. And I think it’s had a positive impact regarding up and coming rappers, especially just knowing that you don’t have to do a certain sound. You can do whatever you want. You can go in whatever lane you want. If it’s good music it’ll resonate and there’s no formula, you can do whatever you want. 

 Now, to dip in, when listening to ‘Just Got Started’ the project instantly felt super accessible and current. You’ve talked about how you were worried that the hip hop community wouldn’t accept the pop melodic and electro influences ‘Falling & Flying’ was filled with. What’s it like to see those sounds be so widely adopted in the mainstream? 

 I’m loving it. The way music has evolved in the last 10 years has been so dramatic. I love what everyone’s doing, even if I don’t listen to it all the time. Like when Future came out and he invented that new genre of ‘mumble rap’ and how the new wave evolved from that and became a lot more melodic. 

It’s almost created its own genre, like the stuff that The Kid LAROI does. There are so many young Aussies doing the more modern-sounding shit and they do it so well.

 There are so many talented artists out there that are goldmines for labels in my opinion. I love that in this country that there’s room to do that new modern sound stuff, but there’s room to do rap that sounds like it’s from the 90s. I think the evolution of music over the last 10 years has been huge, from the sound to streaming and even how the industry operates. 

If you’re consistent and bring a lot to the table, that’s all you really need. It’s been interesting to watch certain artists adapt and evolve with the times and really capitalize on certain things. And it’s fascinating. I love it.

 You’ve also got ‘Boys Like You’ on it which was one of if not the biggest song of 2011. You hear of artists beginning to resent those early hits that take on a life of their own. Did that ever come into being with ‘Boys Like You’?

 I’m very critical of my past art. Every artist probably is. Even the way that I flow in those verses and stuff, I would do it completely differently now. I love the song, don’t get me wrong, but I just know that I’ve grown a lot more as an artist and I want people to see that.

I don’t even like hearing my music when I’m out and about. There have been times where I’ve gone into General Pants and the person working will chuck on ‘Boys Like You’ or ‘Child,’ and I’ll just get uncomfortable. I’m not sure why that is [laughs].

You’ve also got ‘Run Alone’ and ‘Please Forgive Me’ on the record. Back then, rap was still in that braggadocios stage, at least it was in Australia, while the more introspective sound was taking hold in America through artists like Drake and Kid Cudi. Was there a sense of insecurity that came about when dropping those tracks? 

Drake is a big inspiration for me. And he was a big inspiration when I was working on that album as well. I love rappers who bare their soul on a track, someone like Joe Budden who just kills it on that front.

But at the same time, I don’t want to be known as someone who just raps about emo stuff all the time. I don’t want to be known as just that, but at the same time, I can’t duck who I am. I do struggle through a lot of shit so it’s only natural.

Did you feel like you were wearing teflon in a way? That you were having such success off these introspective and vulnerable records in the Aussie scene? 

Yeah absolutely. But I mean like, if you listen to those songs and watch the videos for it now, you can see, I look bad. I’m very unhealthy and in a very dark place and you can see it in my eyes when I do that song.

But I’m glad that people gravitate towards that kind of stuff because those songs come a lot quicker than the other music. If it’s personal, I can get something out very quickly whereas I’ve got to put a lot more effort into the other tracks. But yeah, I’m glad that people gravitate towards the personal shit.

You’ve also talked about how you went through a lot of shit while making this album. Just broadly, what kind of demons was a mid-20s 360 battling with? 

I was just very heavy on the partying. A lot of drinking and drugs. I was all about just having a fun time and going on benders. I had a ball, but it got really dark for me after a while. It went from just partying to needing to do it to feel any sort of happiness. So yeah, that’s where a lot of my struggles stemmed from. 

Do you remember your first shows when promoting this album amongst all the craziness? Was there a memorable one you could tell us about?

I was very lucky coming out with Falling & Flying when I did. It all worked out very well because at that time there were 50 festivals a year or something. There were so many and we were getting booked for them all, and now there are maybe three [laughs]. The game has completely changed and it’s just how it is. It was so amazing and so much fun, doing the whole Big Day Out tour and Groovin The Moo and Splendour. They were all so memorable and just epic. Festival crowds are so good to play to. I wish everyone could experience it.

But I guess I just wish I knew that I was walking a very fine line with addiction and that stuff. At the start, I was just having fun, but eventually, when you’re doing it every day, you end up getting addicted and crossing that line. So, I just wished that I’d been less loose.

You’ve also got two unreleased demos on the album in ‘Teach Me More’ and ‘Playing In My Head’. What was the thought process in including those two this time around? 

There were tracks that didn’t make it that I still like, but they’re just not on the same level. I think when you hear the two new songs, you know they’re from Falling & Flying. They sound like they’re from that era. Whereas the other songs had their place, but they just didn’t fit.

It’s hard to explain but when I first started working with Styles on the album, we did three songs together and those songs were very poppy. One of them sounds like a Lily Allen song. I wanted to put that one out because it’s very catchy, but it makes me cringe so much listening to that, whereas the other songs don’t. So that’s how I made those choices in the end.

Just broadening things out, you’re also one part of one of the most notorious rap battles in Aussie history. How do you look back on the one-liners and the whole atmosphere from back then?

Man, those times were so good. I owe a lot to battle rap. I don’t know if I would’ve been on the trajectory that I was on without battle rap. We didn’t do it for promo reasons but it ended up being such good promo to push the album, and just to get people listening to the music. And people took that battle so seriously, people really thought it was some ride or die shit between me and Kerser. That his fans hated my fans and vice versa. It’s quite funny but people still bring it up.

Like I’ll still make a post and people will quote lines from the battle or comment “Kerser is the sickest” or something like that. It’s quite funny. Ten years later people are still hung up on it and really bought into the beef.

We definitely had our issues, but there’s no bad blood. I’ve got a lot of respect for him now and what he’s done with his career is incredible. For up-and-coming artists, if you want a blueprint to follow, his one is really good. Even without having the industry backing you, he really created a monster with what he did and it’s great.

You’ve also been killing it with Rappertag so congrats on that. It’s been crazy to see it continue to rise. How do you see it moving forward?

When I first did Rappertag back in the day, it was just something that I did and I just let it out there. There was no thought of building it into something. So in doing it again now, we’ve approached it as a business. I’m not doing the social media part or anything like that. I’m just overseeing it, but we’ve got really big goals with where we want to take it. 

It’s such a sick thing to have this platform to show how diverse our rappers are and allow them to get their flex on, and just show what they can do. But it also showcases how many artists in Australia are very versatile. People can do the modern stuff, the classic rap stuff and it’ll work, and I really love that. And we have ideas like the cipher too. So it’s not just the rapper tag itself. We have some really cool things planned and we do plan to take it international. Like can you imagine if America had a rapper tag? With the right backing and had the right artists involved? 

But for me, rapper tag is just as exciting as making new music. I really see it as something that can grow into an absolute beast like Verzuz in America.

Looking at artists like Nerve who’ve done the series as well as the young up and comers, do you feel a sense of pride? That you’ve helped curate the scene in a sense for them? 

 Nerve’s so good. Goddamn, I really think he’s got an insane future ahead of him and he’s a gifted rapper in many ways. He can do any sound and he produces his stuff. He’s an animal. But yeah, I definitely feel a sense of pride in it. I just love that we’ve got a healthy scene and we’re still in the early stages of development in hip hop in this country. But the country is in very good hands with these young ones that are coming up now. There’s just so much talent.

What would you say to the OG fans who’ve stuck with you over the years? The day ones?

To the people who’ve stuck with me through the drugs and disappearing all the time and all of that stuff, I owe them everything. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them, so it’s nothing but love and appreciation. I thought a lot of people would’ve given up on me a few times, but they stuck by me and I appreciate it so much.

 Lastly, what would you say to the young 360s grinding in the studio who may be doubting themselves or struggling with the whole process? 

 That’s a great question. I would tell them to be patient and not rush into thinking that whatever they’re working on is going to blow up. For me, when I did the first album, ‘What You See Is What You Get’ didn’t do very well at all. But in my mind, I thought it was going to be absolutely huge, but it wasn’t. And that really stung, but I’m glad it didn’t happen because I wasn’t ready as an artist or a person in any way. I still had a lot of growing to do before I could be ready for any bit of that success.

 A lot of artists want their album to reach as many people as possible, but if it doesn’t happen, don’t let it kill your drive. Just keep working because it just means it’s not your time yet. And then keep believing in yourself and grinding. And if the music’s good, it’ll get there.

360’s ten year anniversary edition of Falling & Flying is out now. You can pre-order the 10th anniversary limited edition vinyl here.

Words by Amar Gera September 24, 2021
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