Artist-producer duos in Australian hip-hop & R&B
As an artist, it's enticing to work with a variety of different producers to network, innovate and cultivate a varied catalogue. Sometimes, though, you meet a producer who just gets you: the chemistry is there, your visions are aligned, and the music speaks for itself. Here are some of our favourite producer-artist duos from around Australia, who have worked together time and time again to create some of the most exciting music coming out of the country.
Tommy Gunn & 99hurts
Bonded not only by their shared love of music, but also by blood, brothers Tommy Gunn and 99hurts recently collaborated on ‘BET ON ME’, Tommy’s debut EP. Released off the back of energetic singles 'OUT THE BLUE' (co-prod. by actuallyluna) and 'Prada Me' (co. prod by Sid Mallick), the 11-track project bounces between heartfelt R&B-leaning joints (‘AFTER DARK’ wouldn’t be out of place on Drake’s 'Nothing Was The Same') and upbeat but melancholic trap tracks like ‘T.R.G’.
Whilst still managing to take cues from a range of genres, it’s clear that the duo has a firm grip on their sound. This is informed by deep musical knowledge and skill: Tommy is a classically trained cellist, and the brothers both taught themselves keys and the guitar. 99hurts takes inspiration from melodic rap production, but the EP never falls into Soundcloud rapper territory. On ‘HOW IT GOES’, the combination of trap hi-hat patterns, live rimshots, and pitched-up vocal samples is both fresh and instantly nostalgic. The track combines the charisma of a Jack Harlow beat with the vulnerability of The Kid Laroi’s vocal production. The brothers also pay homage to their heritage, using the traditional Chinese instrument, the Erhu. ‘JUST LIKE US’ provides an insight into the pair’s musical prowess: they pair delicate finger-picked guitar and confident live bass with pared-back drums that add groove without overpowering the melodic aspects of the track.
Lyrically, Tommy Gunn reflects on the ups and downs of his life thus far. On ‘BET ON ME’, he’s healing yet hopeful: “Made a lotta bad choices, blame it on my head noise/ If I gave you my heart, would you care for it?”. Like all of us, Tommy is questioning the world and his place in it: “So tell me what’s the deal?/ In this world full of fakes, hard to keep it real”. That said, he reflects proudly on his progress “Used to be hella insecure about my teeth, huh/ Now it’s fuck it, gotta show my fans, I gotta eat, yeah”.
MUNGMUNG & Taka Perry
There’s no one quite like MUNGMUNG in the Aussie scene. Daring, playful and a little bit zany, her music combines the bounciness of hip-hop and the catchy mischievousness of pop. Taka Perry has worked with a long list of boundary-pushing artists internationally and within Australia: Denzel Curry, GoldLink, and A.GIRL to name a few. Their origin story is as 21st century as it gets: MUNGMUNG duetted one of Taka’s beats on TikTok, and the rest is history.
The pair collaborated on MUNGMUNG’s 2022 EP ‘MAIN CHARACTER’. Listening through, Benne, Remi Wolf and Tierra Whack come to mind, a testament to Taka and MUNGMUNG’s versatility and experimental sound. The opening track ‘DMs’ features auto-tuned ad-libs, trap production, and lush BV stacks as MUNGMUNG teasingly repeats “Just let me slide in, from the AM to the PM in the DMs”. NASCAR fuses futuristic 80s synths with bouncy, contemporary production to create an almost-but-not-quite hyper-pop track. MUNGMUNG reflects on feeling rushed in a relationship and demonstrates her lyrical and delivery dexterity. The second hook “Hey baby I think we’ve been moving too fast, doing 200 miles ‘round the track” gives way to a fast-paced flow: “I be the D.K/ Swervin’ and curvin’/ Your attempts don’t tempt me/ Start with the ‘initially’”. ‘SAILOR MOON’ is all about the bounce: 808s, brisk percussion, synths accents, and electric keys lay the scene for MUNGMUNG’s unshakeable confidence: “Lesgo, Rainbow Double Heartache on ya/ Shake it so hard, it’s an earthquake on ya”.
Both Taka and MUNGMUNG feature in the video for 'MAIN CHARACTER', a fantastical video-themed affair that perfectly matches the animated production and audacious lyrics. Weaving between English and Mandarin, MUNGMUNG asserts “Get your hands off of me/ I run this shit, I’m the protagy/ Protagonist, nist, nist shit, just/ Call me Buffy”, the descent into almost non-sensical wordplay reflecting MUNGMUNG’s refusal to take herself or her art too seriously.
Drea and Dylan Guy
Perth-based artist Drea and producer/all-round creative Dylan Guy have mastered meaningful, modern R&B. Together, Drea and Dylan have solidified the singer's sonic vision since her first release, 'Chapters' in 2020, and the confidence is palpable. Dylan is one of the country's most underrated producers, a frequent collaborator with Mali Jo$e, and one-half of alternative R&B duo amor. Drea, delivers enviable vocals and lyrics, and
has a long list of collaborators across the country: Sowdy, Zane Rosé and Loca. In fact, you can even hear her vocals on Mali Jo$e's recent release 'Clouds'.
They collaborated on the blissful 2022 single ‘Yellow’ with Mali Jo$e. Dylan does an expert job of balancing engagement and simplicity: think windchimes, keys, verbed-out vocal samples and acoustic-leaning production. Drea's storytelling is unique as she balances humour, bluntness and gentleness: "She has an interesting vibe/ She's not a waste of time/ So shaky, gets rid of his pride/ And he says 'hi'". On earlier release 'Sonder', an extended intro grounded in a brass section and Drea's agile vocals switches into synth chords and almost D&B production. Drea slips into a gentle rap flow steeped in positivity: "Our lives can be so complex and colourful/ Amazing, creative and wonderful". It's a perspective we don't often see paired with a hip-hop delivery. 'Method' combines wonky synths and a xylophone to create a beat that MUNGMUNG might like to hop on.
Calling to mind the music of Ari Lennox or Kiana Ledè, the pair’s recent release ‘Call Me Up’ masters the laid-back confidence of the genre. Over a moody, flute-y beat, Drea is all unwavering conviction: "I won't say this/ I won't take that/ And I won't wear that/ And I won't say smack". The special sauce is the percussion: Dylan uses subtle and carefully-placed wooden one-shots to complement the more contemporary high hats. The result is organic and above all, unique.
Words by Portia Brajkovic
@minoriuedaphoto / @blindsidehein (Tommy Gunn Camera 1 / 2), @jack_billiau (99hurts Camera 1), @bendevelin / (MUNGMUNG Camera 1 & Taka Perry Camera 1 & 2), @muungy (MUNGMUNG Camera 2), @dylan.guy (Drea Camera 1), @ciaramiaphotography (Drea Camera 2), @jewelowusu (Dylan Guy Camera 1)