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Jake Biz’s ‘Commercial Hell’ dropped a few weeks ago and it really reaffirmed my faith in Australian hip-hop. The Brisbane rapper’s first album is a passionate and aggressive commentary on rap music and the commercial aspects of the Australian hip-hop scene.

I perceive it as a concept album where Jake plays the part of himself, a rapper trapped in “commercial hell,” where festival rap is king and Triple J artists rule the airwaves. His role as an underground artist isn’t understated in the slightest, and to be honest it isn’t hard to see where he is coming from.

Starting with bold samples of commercial rap in the introduction, Commercial Hell is first and foremost an attack on Jake’s dislikes and an affirmation of his lifestyle and personal identity. I feel that Jake’s voice is not his greatest asset, but his technical flow, strong hooks and choruses, and excellent choice of beats definitely pick up the slack. The track with Lazy Grey, ‘Flavour of the Month’, is a fine example of the album’s better efforts.

I enjoyed DJ Lopsided’s cuts throughout the album, and the skits are interesting- they tie the album together with a strong cohesive feel. You can tell Jake put a lot of hard work into this album- passion and perseverance drip from every word he says. ‘Commercial Hell’ establishes him as an excellent storyteller, something that I feel is underutilised in contemporary music.

I wouldn’t say it was intellectually challenging, but I definitely found ‘Commercial Hell’ to be an engaging piece of work. I could see how someone might see it as hateful or negative, but I really believe it was a labour of love. Just Jake Biz repping who he is and what he loves, while denouncing those he isn’t feeling.  I recommend copping it.

3.5 stars