Skrub gets candid alongside all-star Australian guestlist on latest mixtape 'Gummo'
Brisbane artist Skrub has linked up with frequent collaborator Dan Bones for his latest mixtape ‘Gummo’. The follow-up to his ‘Almost Twenty-Two’ EP released over a year ago, ‘Gummo’ is packed to the brim with an all-Australian line-up of hefty features. The mixtape sees Skrub tapping in Melbourne duo Posseshot, Tasmania’s very own pure spitter Wombat, Perth lyricist Complete, Adelaide’s continually impressive indigomerkaba, fellow Brisbane artist Smak, and from Tweed Heads, the smooth delivery of Chiggz. Each artist and rapper have been brought in to add even greater depth and venom to the inspired production and expert beat-selection crafted by producer Dan Bones.
The title, ‘Gummo’, is a homage to Harmony Korine’s unapologetic 1997 film of the same name. In addition, the track list sees Skrub giving credence to the film’s characters by naming each track eponymously. Absurdist in its nature, Korine’s “Gummo” dissects the hidden-in-plain-sight realities of suburbia whilst embracing the uncomfortable and disturbing to effectively convey the innocence within it. And much like the film itself, Skrub’s lyrics across this project are fashioned to bring humour to his wholly relatable pessimism.
It’s fitting that Dan Bones and Skrub come together to deliver such an emphatic opening track considering how hard this mixtape genuinely slaps. Bones’ production resembles the orchestral awe of a James Bond movie score, working effectively in tandem with Skrub’s self-effacing and naturally transparent lyrics: “Make 'em wanna hate me, but kind of fall in love with me”. Skrub breaks down his mentality around not caring about whether he impresses anyone, because his music speaks for himself. It’s a truly grand opening with irresistible samples.
Dot ft Posseshot
Melbourne duo Posseshot jump on this track entitled ‘Dot’, one which feels tailor-made to allow Skrub, Mr.Muscles and KHA to strut their lyrical prowess. Named after Chloë Sevigny’s character in the original ‘Gummo’ film, ‘Dot’ features a building, ominous beat that lets us know exactly what we’re in for. Skrub’s verse details the young artist’s dedication to staying true to himself and to disregarding materialistic urges, whist Posseshot naturally embrace the dark mood of the beat in order to procure some vicious bars: “Different shed that we’re sitting in, we grew wings, rose up, the snakes started shedding skin” (KHA). Lethal.
Skrub is spitting on this pure and simple. ‘Bunny Boy’ sees the Brisbane MC refusing to be humble because of his confidence in his undeniable talent, and his delivery reaffirms this with tenacity. Skrub’s repetition on the hook: “Put em up, put em up, like this is a stickup” amps up the energy of a track that is already sending the listener into a hair-raising state of euphoria due to Dan Bones’ sample of some especially lively horns. That Chris Benoit bar was something else.
Tummler ft Wombat
The piano keys that run along this song establish a frenetic, relentless energy that feels expertly crafted for the lyrical stylings of Skrub and the speed at which Wombat can deliver his verses at. Skrub’s wordplay is excellently cheeky across this: “See your just the same, but a different name, that’s a Big Jack”, and his lyrics reveal a greater depth to himself as he admits to feeling conflicted about wanting the success and not wanting to let his fans or ultimately himself down. Wombat then arrives with a verse that builds and builds with bar after bar of authentic reflections on his own life: “How the fuck do people think I’ve made it when I barely even have a buck?”. Both artists are staunchly themselves on this and you couldn’t ask for more.
Jarrod ft Complete
‘Jarrod’ features one of my favourite beats across the whole mixtape, with the subtle guitar riff implemented by Dan Bones giving plenty of character to the track. Skrub provides a shorter verse on this track, but he still has plenty of fun with his bars. Undoubtedly, Complete as a lyricist is a legitimate beast. Eloquent and raw, he always leaves me repeating a track a few times after just to catch every bar. The “I coach-hella people” bar left me legitimately shaking my head in amazement.
‘Eddie’ gives Skrub the room to take the mic and be at his most introspective. The rapper conveys to the listener his struggles with relationships and committing, whilst admitting to thoughts of suicide and facing the worst internally: “If I had to write my final song, this is the one”, being the statement he opens the track with. He further elaborates on his troubles with maintaining friendships due to these overwhelming thoughts: “Give a fuck if you like me, I don’t even like me, wish I could but I can’t explain what my mind sees”. Skrub always delivers on the hook, and this one (“Where do we go from here, I don’t know now…”) is neither self-serious or overdone. Rather like the film this mixtape is inspired by; the hook is honest and true to Skrub.
Cole ft Smak
Brisbane’s Smak always hits listeners with that extra oomph needed to push the track to the next level, and on ‘Cole’ he combines with Skrub over a moody Dan Bones beat. This track is a dedication to ignoring the comfort zone, haters, doubters, and copycats, with Smak and Skrub each taking turns to let people know that no one is getting in their way.
Darby ft Chiggz
East Coast Brotherhood member and artist Chiggz is brought into this chilled out, smoke-infused haze of a track that feels like one long, laidback high. The mood of this track – which is complimented by Skrub’s melancholic hook and sardonic adlibs – is perfectly suited to Chiggz’s laidback flow and lyrics that cut into those who claim to live a life they actually don’t.
Every lyric Skrub states on this track hits hard as he takes the listener through the introspection that lingers with him daily: “these are just the thoughts when I’m falling asleep and waking up”. ‘Ellen’ sees Skrub split his time between speaking on frustrations with himself and with those in the scene around him. The rapper attests to the importance of utilising music as an outlet, particularly as frustration builds and he becomes increasingly avoidant in a state of blissful carelessness. Continually, he expresses a disdain towards what he sees in the hip-hop scene around him: backstabbing and lyrics dependent on glamourising a faux lifestyle.
Phelipo & Terry ft indigomerkaba
With the mixtape coming to a close, Skrub and Dan Bones opt to go out on a high to leave listeners confident with what’s to come in spite of any personal obstacles or issues. As indigomerkaba emphatically says in the introduction to ‘Phelipo & Terry’: “this shit feelin’ like a victory lap”; the Adelaide artist is savouring the anthemic beat designed by Dan Bones. Skrub wears his heart on his sleeve on this closing track, firmly reminding listeners of his natural ability as a rapper with every bit of typical Skrub brilliance.
Irrefutably, plenty of credit belongs to producer Dan Bones for the technical versatility and depth of musicality he reveals across ‘Gummo’. Whether he’s attempting to convey the highs or the lows, he always successfully nails the exact mood Skrub and the project’s guests are wanting to evoke in their lyrics. No track’s runtime on this mixtape crosses the 3:00 mark, meaning it is concise and never drags. It thrives because every track gets to the point.
Being that Skrub always unapologetically puts his whole personality into his music, as a listener I’m appreciative of the fact that he never takes himself too seriously in spite of the tangible struggles he will often refer to. ‘Gummo’ isn’t self-pitying, rather it breaks down why Skrub enters these low head-spaces and the thoughts that pervade him every day. And whilst there is plenty of self-examination, the Brisbane artist makes room for moments where he can feel himself and demonstrate the tonally self-aware, but spiritually self-assured bars we’ve come to know and love from him.
Words by Matthew Badrov
2nd Photo by @tezzaphotography
3rd Photo by @jaacobcreative