The geography of Queensland has been a mystery for many in years gone by. While Bob Katter might pop up in the news every now and then to remind people of the dangers of water-based animals/killing machines, the state is often forgotten in musical conversations, remaining in third place behind fellow East Coast states Victoria and New South Wales. When artists from Queensland have made a name for themselves on a national/international stage, they’ve primarily been rock bands like Regurgitator, Powderfinger and The Go-Betweens.
In recent years, however, hip-hop has helped showcase the various regions of Queensland, and the talent that lies within each part of the Sunshine State. Suburbs like Goodna and Logan have been put on the map by Lisi and No Money Enterprise respectively, and Queensland is fast-becoming one of the most-hyped musical hubs in Australia – for good reason. Organisations like No.One Network, Atlas Studio and Creative Ave are giving back to the community in a variety of ways, helping to empower anyone and everyone that wants to make music.
To get a better sense of what makes the Queensland hip-hop scene unique, Acclaim reached out to one of the central figures of Queensland rap, Sachém. The Indigenous and African American MC hails from Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island), and has worked with the likes of Tom Thum on the collaborative ‘Glitter & Gold’ EP and S.A.B on the powerful ‘Black Noise’. He’s someone that’s embedded in the DNA of the Queensland scene, working closely with both OGs and newcomers alike. Speaking about what makes the Queensland scene great, Sachém is keen to pay homage to those that have paved the way. He explains, “In Queensland, hip-hop has always been a diverse and influential part of our culture, setting a standard for the entire country.
“What sets Queensland hip-hop apart is the authentic relationships that exist between the five disciplines of hip-hop: emcees, breakers, graff writers, deejays, and beatboxers.” He says that “intentional spaces have always been created for these relationships to exist”, referencing the likes of “750 Rebels, The Optimen, Resin Dogs, Lazy Grey and B-Boy Allstars”. He also gave Acclaim a bit of a history lesson on some of the key players in Queensland’s hip-hop history, as well as highlighting the relationships between emerging artists and those at the top of the food chain. “While it’s important to acknowledge the big streaming rappers who have helped push our sound nationally and internationally, it’s equally important to recognize the vital role played by the underground and the OGs.
“Individuals and crews have been instrumental in building our ecosystem, people such as MasterWolf, who has hosted weekly Freestyle Friday events in Brisbane for over a decade, DCP (Aka Blak Douglas), who ensures that the younger generation are supported by the OGs and pushes us to represent just as they did, and BGirl Flix, the owner of Elements Collective, a dance company/crew in the heart of the city that has supported so many individuals and events for over a decade.
“I use the term “ecosystem” intentionally because that’s exactly what our community is. Just like in nature, there are no big sharks without the krill, but sharks are the guardians of the delicate balance. Similarly, our hip-hop community in Queensland is made up of many different individuals and groups, each playing their role in maintaining a thriving ecosystem.” However, he wants more chances for different aspects of the industry to come together, saying, “What I would love to see is more support and spaces where individuals from all levels of the industry can exist together in a completely normative way. It would be great to have more opportunities for established artists to share space with up-and-comers, regardless of their level of success or experience. By breaking down these barriers and creating more inclusive spaces, we can continue to build.”
His thoughts are echoed by Unamii, who’s made a name for herself off the back of tracks like ‘Bars From Unamii’, ‘Showtime’ alongside Dau Dau and her blistering feature on PANIA’s ‘LETHIM4ALL’. Unamii also highlighted the varied sounds coming out of Brisbane, saying, “Being from Brisbane, being true to yourself and your style is the only way you’re going to stand out! On the other side of it we are a small city compared to the rest of Australia so our strengths are really that we are all different from each other. There isn’t just one sound coming out of Brisbane.” However, she wants artists from the Sunshine State to focus more, citing a lack of regular releases as something that holds them back. “I’d like to see people being more consistent and pushing out the music, I don’t think people realise the untapped talent here.”
To get you up to speed with some of the faces you need to know in the Queensland hip-hop scene, we’ve run our eye over the different musical pockets that make up Queensland. Part of the charm of the Queensland rap scene is that there are a range of different sounds coming out of the city, so whatever styles you prefer, you’ll find an artist or two on this list that’s going to go straight into your regular rotation.