How Picked Last are evolving the Australian scene
Comprised of members based in Melbourne’s constantly evolving hip-hop and R&B scene, Picked Last represents a legion of artists, producers, DJs, videographers, photographers, fashion designers and creatives similarly-minded in their approach to music-making and artistic expression. A collective and record label, Picked Last operate without traditional guidelines and instead embrace a team dynamic to deliver a precise curation of releases and cultivation of the strengths that make an artist inimitable.
The name in and of itself speaks to the energy of a crew who have found themselves collectively shunned and feeling out-of-place in a scene that is yet to embrace a renewed stylistic opposition to musical trends. Made up of artists MAMMOTH., Porter Rico, Agung Mango, Boy Ace, the 3K crew, CD and the YKM TopBoyz collective (Porter Rico plus Manny Müla and A81 Yann) alongside creatives and those who guide the movement behind-the-scenes, Picked Last encourages creative risk-taking whilst building up young burgeoning talents. Undoubtedly, the Picked Last crew are endeavoring to push the Australian scene out of its comfort zone in the pursuit of greater significance, longevity and legacy, rather than simply just making an impact in the short term.
Read on to see our breakdown of Picked Last’s current roster of artists.
MAMMOTH. is an artist who thrives on ominous, moody and soulful instrumentals with equal measure. Ahead of the release of his debut album ‘OPUS MAGNUM’ on July 28th, MAMMOTH. has stood out for displays of an effortless lyrical flair across all of his releases. Distinguished by a distinct cadence and elegiac flow, MAMMOTH.’s tracks are never about one-upping others, nor do they rely heavily on wordplay and punchlines, rather his nature as a lyricist allows him to eloquently break down his innermost thoughts with sophistication. As a result of his reflective nature, MAMMOTH.’s music nurtures a sense of reassurance for listeners who may be undergoing their own personal turmoil.
For those unfamiliar with Agung Mango, we recommend becoming acquainted. Notable for his instantly recognisable raspy vocal style and unpredictable experimental hip-hop and R&B sound, Agung has already left an indelible impact on an Australian scene craving a broad artist of his presence. His commitment to fully embracing all aspects of his artistry with unrestrained passion – from his releases to his live performances – reaffirms his status as a leader in this new wave of Australian hip-hop that embraces an authentic-to-self sound. Agung’s willingness to push his sound into uncharted sonic territory is showcased profoundly throughout his collaborative EP ‘SON OF AGUNG’ which was released in late 2020 with Melbourne producer and instrumentalist Nikodimos. And the infectious liveliness of his music – whether it’s the cascading synths of ‘120fps’ or the bouncy flow of ‘YO EL REY – is what keeps his songs in your thoughts for a long time after.
From his debut ‘OnlyOne.’ to his latest release ‘Silhouette’, Boy Ace has expertly proven himself to be an artist that embodies a difficult-to-achieve grasp of style and presence with effortless charm. His suave aptitude as a rapper and vocalist leaves him able to deftly strut across a multitude of styles in a manner that will consistently leave you bopping your head. For example, Boy Ace’s 2019 release ‘Ice Cold’ blends a lovelorn experimental R&B hook with his bouncy flow, whilst ‘Silhouette’ crescendos with a flashy bravado as a backdrop to his observant lyrics, all of it speaking to the depth of his talent. The manner in which Boy Ace undertakes all of his melodies, hooks and verses with an undoubted swagger certainly appeals, but it’s a testament to his rapping ability that it never overshadows the intention of his pinpoint bars.
Pushing R&B into new uncharted territory in Australia is CD, who assuredly merges the worlds of contemporary iterations and early 2000s versions of the genre across her releases. Undoubtedly CD’s releases are deeply personal and filled with relatable lyrics that allow listeners to resonate with her wholeheartedly. Her 2020 single ‘Mr. M.I.A.’ is a dynamic and emotionally stirring piece which invites listeners in to hear CD breakdown the habits of her often distant significant other. Moreover, CD’s 2021 track ‘Catcha Grip’ partners her with the incomparable PANIA for a record dedicated to embracing oneself and abandoning the expectations that society attaches to womanhood. Easily recognisable by the way in which her vocals usher the listener in and assure comfort, CD’s sound blossoms and pertinently illustrates her multifaceted artistry, a notion which is affirmed by the presence of her harmonies and weaving vocals on Nikodimos’ track ‘ONE CALL AWAY’ (off of his album ‘NIKODIMOS WORLD’). Having officially released two solo singles thus far, the potential is limitless for CD to take R&B to a greater echelon within Australia.
Typified by a love for generating a surrealist atmosphere in their music in tandem with the composed delivery of their lyrics and vocals, 3K are a specialty in their own right. Made up of rapper and producer Benny Lago and rappers Beluga and Eissa, the trio form as a rhythmically piercing trident of self-effacing and self-aware individuals who organically come together as 3K. With a stacked discography to their name already – including their debut EP ‘Don’t Panic!’ and a joint project alongside Agung Mango entitled ‘OPENFORBUSINESS’ – the group have accumulated a dedicated fanbase loyal to their underground sound which flies directly in the face of genre limitations. ‘Thason Gang’ – off of their latest versatile project ‘City of Fever’ – is a perfect representation of 3K’s uncanny approach to music-making. Filled with dreamy production and trickling chimes, the track maintains that self-depreciating and absurdist humour that sets 3K apart from the rest whilst still remaining a veritably immense track. They’re certainly ones to keep an eye on in the coming years.
The YKM TopBoyz collective includes Picked Last members Manny Müla, Porter Rico and A81 Yann, each of whom represent a varied part of the YKM TopBoyz crew. Having initially released their songs under the YKM TopBoyz banner (specifically tracks like ‘IDM’, ‘TINASHE’, ‘PURPOSE’ and ‘CLASSIC’ amongst others), the focus is now seemingly on developing themselves as independent artists – though no doubt with one eye on continuing the YKM TopBoyz name. Similar to 3K, the trio are capable of traversing a variety of hip-hop and trap centric beats with confidence aplenty. Moreover, Porter Rico and Manny Müla’s solo works each reflect artists willing to branch out of their comfort zones in order to arrive at a sound that wholly encompasses everything about them. Such a feeling is evoked by Porter Rico’s latest personal single ‘Paranoid’ which dissects his internal struggles with trusting those he deems closest to him.
Photos by @comegetshot (MAMMOTH., Porter Rico & YKM Topboyz Photos), @gentledetrimental (Agung Mango Photo), @shotbypetros (Boy Ace Photo), @girlsthatmosh (CD Photo), @garconhorror (3K Photo)
Words by Matthew Badrov