There’s been a changing of the guard when it comes to Australian rappers, and the next generation are set to make their mark. With rappers like Tkay Maidza, Sampa The Great, Remi, Briggs, Allday and many more already building their impressive discographies, Aussie rap is in a good place. But who’s coming up next? Here’s a few artists you should keep your eye on – before they become superstars.
Baker Boy is having some sort of 12 months. After a killer Splendour In The Grass performance, he’s gone from strength to strength. Already in his short career he’s played festivals like Laneway, Groovin The Moo, Golden Plains and the aforementioned Splendour – as well as supporting legends like Yothu Yindi, Dizzee Rascal and 50 Cent.
Oh, and earlier this year he released his new single Cool As Hell – and became Young Australian of the Year on the same day. He’s someone you’ll want to keep an eye on, if you’re not already – his live shows are something to behold – because he’s on a trajectory to be playing some of the biggest rooms in not just Australia, but across the globe.
Not many rappers have the guts to introduce themselves with the same ferocity as Australian-Fijian rapper Jesswar - “I’m a savage, I’m a c#*t!” was one of the first bars we heard from the now Brisbane-based rapper, and after two years touring and writing, we’re finally going to be hearing new music from Jesswar soon.
There’s a few singles set to drop in the near future, as well as an EP – and we have a sneaking suspicion that Jesswar might just be the next Australian rapper to truly blow up.
Sophiegrophy, along with the rest of those on this list, represent a generation of Australian rappers that have put the ‘larrikin’ moniker that is often associated with Australian hip-hop in the bin. She has an EP coming this year, after rising to prominence back in 2016 with her independent mixtape PURPULARITY.
Sophiegrophy has been tagged as possibly Australia’s first true rap crossover star, and given her already impressive discography, as well as her killer live shows, it’s not hard to see why.
Haiku Hands bring the party, no matter where they’re playing. After all, one of their songs is a direct challenge – Dare You Not To Dance. The band is a cross-city collaboration, with members from both Melbourne and Sydney, and started the year off strong with killer performances at SXSW. They’ve also worked with Australian hip-hop royalty, with the likes of Joelistics (oft-described as the “fifth member” of the band) and Angus Stuart of Hermitude contributing to the project, with a couple of the members having featured on previous Hermitude tracks.
It’s not just Australian hip-hop royalty they’ve worked with, however. American producer Just Blaze has been involved with the project, as a result of the Red Bull Music Academy – which band member Beatrice Lewis participated in in 2016. Just Blaze is most notable for having worked on several of Jay-Z’s albums. Haiku Hands are planning to release an album by the end of this year, too, so new music should be coming very, very shortly, and given their perfect record of releasing absolute hits so far, you’ll want to make sure you’re on board.
Dylan Joel has been around for a hot minute now, but has gone under the radar in the past. He first came to attention via triple j Unearthed, before releasing his 2015 debut album Authentic Lemonade. After touring extensively, it then felt like he went on a bit of a hiatus – spending a couple of years writing, before earlier this year releasing his sophomore ‘collection’ You Were Made To Blossom.
The title is a particularly apt one, given the message Dylan Joel tries to spread, and speaking about the title he says, “To me, the idea of blossoming is to love ourselves, not in an arrogant or comparative way, but in a way that brings out the best in us. That’s a real hard fight and one that I feel we need to talk about more often. Hence the title.” Given he’s been writing since the release of his second ‘collection’, new music might be closer than we think – fingers crossed.
Turquoise Prince might have a more traditional Australian hip-hop sound than most of the other rappers on this list, but it feels like an evolution of the concepts that have made Australian hip-hop so successful in the past. Having moved from Canberra to Sydney to further his musical career, the One Day Crew (made up of members of Australian hip-hop legends Spit Syndicate, Joyride, Horrorshow and Jackie Onassis) have taken Turquoise Prince under their wings, with Adit from Horrorshow steering production.
His latest single, Some Nights, is the best representation of his sound yet, as he juxtaposes killer bars and R&B infused vocals, which makes for killer hooks as well as memorable verses – a combination that many chase, but often fall short of. As he himself says, “get it in yaaa.” It feels like he’s just only scratched the surface of what he can truly offer.
This Sydney-based rapper has released a consistent string of singles over the past handful of years, as well as his debut EP, Mood Forever. Manu Crook$’s live show is something to remember, however, and is where he really shines. Having performed at major festivals like Rolling Loud in the US (one of America’s premiere hip-hop festivals), Splendour, Falls and more (as well as being a last-minute replacement at Listen Out last year), he’s gained the attention of tastemakers like Zane Lowe – and it’s time you checked him out for yourself. New music is surely just around the corner – and we can’t wait!