There’s no denying that 2019 has been a huge year for Australian hip-hop, with brand new artists and crews popping up from all over the country to bring their own spin to the ever-growing genre. One of the areas that has cemented itself as a breeding ground for a new wave of Australian hip-hop is Sydney’s Western suburbs. Acts like Manu Crooks, and Youngn Lipz are doing huge numbers across Spotify, breaking down stigmas of what hip-hop in this country should look and sound like, and speaking to a new generation of rap fans.
Hooligans Hefs is one of the artists at the forefront of this new era. The Doonside local merges the sounds of UK drill, Australian gutter rap, and European EDM genres like hardstyle and gabber, and spits in an unmistakable Western Sydney twang. His single ‘No Effect’ has racked up a humble 6.3 million streams on Spotify in just five months—it’s a ruthless yet rewarding combination of hard bars from Hefs and a seriously bassy hardstyle interlude that begs for a reload. We caught up with the young MC ahead of his performance at Spotify’s A1 hip-hop live in Sydney on November 7 to chat about some of his inspirations, growing up in Western Sydney with the Hooligans, and the state of Australian rap right now.
What first inspired you to start rapping and who were some of the first artists you were listening to?
I think Get Rich or Die Trying aye. The movie. It came out when I was 15 or 16.
So 50 Cent was a big influence early on?
Yeah, for sure.
Tell me about your crew. I know there’s HooliganSkinny who is on your track ‘IYKYK’. Who are the Hooligans and how did you guys get together?
Yeah so everyone in the Hooligans have been friends since young. We grew up as teenagers, repping our crew, this and that. We were called the Hooligan Squad. There’s me, Skinny, and one more who is locked up at the moment, but he’s one of the guys that started it with me.
Tell me about the part of West Sydney you grew up in? What is life like out there?
I grew up in the 67 which is Doonside. I guess it was normal, I don’t know how to describe it but it was normal for us. Yeah, me and the boys used to just hit parties and we’d get drunk and rap to each other, you know?
It’s a crazy time for rap in Australia and it seems like a lot of it is coming out of Western Sydney. Where do you see it all going?
It’s gonna blow, yeah. Western Sydney is gonna blow. When you hear certain people’s music and their lyrics, you can tell when they are from the West, you get me? I feel like it means a little bit more because everyone knows the West is like, normal, but it’s harder. It’s just that little bit harder.
It’s sick to see because it hasn’t always been that way, people from the West didn’t always get the same shine as artists from other parts of the country.
Hard. We’re definitely setting trends at the moment, I’ll leave it at that.
Facts, you see a lot of city kids dressing like they’re from the West these days.
For sure, TNs and the little bum bags and that. Yeah, hard.
What about with Spotify, how has their support impacted your career? When did they start getting behind your tracks?
I’ve only just gotten on Spotify at the start of this year but since I’ve been on there it’s just been blowing up. I’m making playlists and definitely building a good fanbase too.
Yeah, the numbers don’t lie.
[Laughs] Yeah hard.
Who are some other Australian rappers you’re feeling right now? Any on Spotify’s A1 Live?
Yeah, Triple One for sure and Manu Crooks.
You might be the first person to ever fuse hardstyle or gabber with rap. Tell me about coming up with that idea and how people took to it?
Yeah man, for me I like all that hard rap stuff and I like partying too. I like hardstyle so I thought why not try and put both those genres that I like and put it together. It was a risk for sure but I think it worked. It’s unique. It represents Western Sydney hard that EDM bit.
What can people expect from your live show at A1 live?
It’s just a big party. A big party vibe.
I notice a lot of the lads up in Sydney are more influenced by the UK sound than the American stuff at the moment. What about yourself?
To be honest, I listen to more music with beats and that but from the UK I like Skepta, Krept & Konan, and Bugzy Malone.
What’s a typical day in your life like these days?
To be honest, I train during the week and do music stuff and whatever I’ve gotta do. Then I just party on the weekends.
What’s coming up for you in 2020?
More party, more songs.
Catch Hooligan Hefs at Spotify’s A1 Live, which is based on Spotify’s A1 Hip-Hop playlist and includes his new track ‘Who’s Real?’, and will feature some of the most prominent breakthrough hip-hop talent from Australia and New Zealand, including Triple One, Manu Crooks, Kwame, JessB, and Sophiegrophy. Head here for tickets.