When will the world realise Australia's influence on hip-hop and R&B?
Growing up, I had always idolised America and the abundance of hip-hop culture that it naturally cultivated from the ground up. The old adage is obviously that everything is bigger and better there, from the food; to the cities; to the opportunities. It becomes quite clear that with American art and events constantly flooding Australian media, we have all naturally felt the same feeling before.
Although there is an undeniable presence that America dangles over the rest of the world, there has been a slow but sure shift of new world dominance over the past 5 years. UK Grime, drill and rap has smothered hip hop charts, whilst Afro music righteously dominates Pop charts. Alternative Rock has also become synonymous with Australian Rock, swaying Triple J and local radio networks.
With a small sense of Aussie bias, there is a factor of Australian music that screams authenticity, passion, and quality. When I realised Bruce Lee used to live in Canberra and ‘The Matrix’ was shot in Sydney, I further realised the edge that Australia adds to global pop culture. From JOY.'s production credits on Future's latest album to Rihanna officially releasing a cover of a Tame Impala track, there is no doubt that Australia has an immense influence on hip-hop and R&B around the globe.
JOY. - FUTURE, THE KID LAROI
For nearly a decade, JOY. has been creating Electronic Pop masterpieces with cafe lounge hits such as 'Smoke Too Much' and 'ANIME', whilst performing alongside world-renowned talents like SZA, Kehlani, and Demi Lovato. Still, given her massive contributions to Australian music, not many people know her for the irrefutable stake she holds on hip-hop's most underrated tracks. From contributing production, writing, and performance credits to The Kid LAROI's Billboard No. 1 Album 'F*CK LOVE', to production credits on Future's latest album 'I NEVER LIKED YOU', on a track entitled 'BACK TO THE BASICS'; JOY.'s cultural sway is barely known, but infinitely respected. JOY. also shares production credits for Teo, Phora, BLESSED, and Manu Crooks, as well as writing credits for Jessie Reyez and Vory just to name a few. It’s hard to miss JOY.’s influence on collaborative tracks, with her dreamy trap sound selection and angelic harmonies usually completing tracks like a cherry atop a sundae.
HIATUS KAIYOTE - DRAKE, KENDRICK LAMAR, THE CARTERS
Straying away from first-hand production credits, but still with a huge stake in hip-hop production; Melbourne-based neo-soul group Hiatus Kaiyote is arguably hip-hop's most sampled Australian band. Tracks such as 'Red Room', 'Fingerprints', and 'Borderline With My Atoms' (sampled on Teyana Taylor’s '69') solidify their clear intent to create timeless yet experimental soul music. Their discography has not only been enjoyed directly by their fans but indirectly by hip-hop heads worldwide. Songs such as Drake's 'Free Smoke', Kendrick Lamar's 'DUCKWORTH' and Jay Z and Beyonce's '713' all hold samples from Hiatus Kaiyote.
Maybe it's the soul-fueled vocals of Nai Palm which sparked the Drake collaboration on 'Scorpion', or perhaps it’s the smooth jazz production of the band overall which invites potential sampling grounds. One thing we know for sure is that we all love Hiatus Kaiyote, one way or another.
KHALED ROHAIM - DOJA CAT, POLO G, ARIANA GRANDE
Since the age of four, Khaled Rohaim had been surrounded by musical instruments belonging to his locally-loved Egyptian keyboardist father Omar Khorshid. Now at 35 years old, the Sydney-based creative has been silently serving hip-hop’s biggest tracks. He initially stepped into the scene by supporting multi-platinum hits for Australian artists like Jessica Mauboy and Justice Crew. Khaled acknowledges that the turning point in his career was when he formed a relationship with DJ Mustard via his songwriting collective ‘Twice as Nice.’
Today, Khaled currently holds songwriting credits for global stars such as Doja Cat on ‘Love To Dream’, Polo G for ‘21’, and Ariana Grande on ‘Be Alright’. He also has collaborations with Ty Dolla Sign, Sahxl, Anfa Rose, ONEFOUR, ZAYN, and TYuS. To top it all off (for now), Khaled recently joined the APRA AMCOS 1,000,000,000 List for his work on Rihanna’s ‘Needed Me’, off of Rihanna’s highly successful 2016 album ‘ANTI’. There is no doubt that with a current discography like this, Khaled is set to go down as one of the most successful songwriters in history. In my personal opinion, alongside The-Dream and PARTYNEXTDOOR.
PRODBYAURA - LIL DURK, NBA YOUNGBOY
Blessing trap music worldwide, Australian Billboard #1 Producer ProdByAura has contributed to global billboards for a handful of years. Diving into his recent success, Aura has placed production and writing credits on Lil Durk’s RIAA Platinum album ‘The Voice’ on a track entitled ‘Backdoor’. On top of that, Aura produced the first track ‘Carter Son’ off of NBA Youngboy's Platinum Certified album ‘AI YoungBoy 2’.
General creative credits associated with Aura also include AJ Tracey, The Game, YK Osiris, JAY1 and Duckwrth. However, if you thought he’d be exclusive with overseas talents, then it would be best to think twice. Aura has previously produced for rising Sydney star Allusaine Vuitton’s 2022 single ‘TIME THAT THEY KNOW AV’. Additionally, Aura partly identifies with the Australian-based music production group Driving Club, teaming up with Sydney’s Boss Beats who has previous placements with BLESSED, Ay Huncho and Baby Prince.
Despite experiencing a relatively short time within the music industry, without a doubt there is a prosperous creative future for both ProdByAura and Driving Club.
YOZORABEATS - KODAK BLACK, KAY FLOCK, 22GZ
New but huge to the game, Sydney producer Yozora has been taking the 'YouTube producer' approach since 2018, having been an early adopter of Drill before it hit its Australian peak in the years after. Now, his work ethic and stems have gotten production credits on superstar status artist's tracks.
Last month, Yozora placed Kodak Black on his first Drill record, teaming up with 22Gz on his latest single 'Up N Stuck'. This track features a dark and broken Drill style that is widely accepted in New York and UK Drill, and a style that Yozora has innovated and moulded to his own.
Other producer credits from Yoroza include Kay Flock and C Blu on 'BRAIN SHOT', Edot Babyy's '3 Peat' and 'Field Talk', CoachDaGhost's 'Hitlist' and 'Gooey Sauce', and various up-and-coming artists within New York and South London. There is no doubt that if Yozora sticks to his guns of early art adoption, which is already evident with his latest beats incorporating the rising popularity of the 'Jersey Club' sound, he will continue to evolve from 'YouTube producer' to 'Super Producer'.
FNZ - JACK HARLOW, KANYE WEST
Grammy award-winning, Australian production and songwriting duo FNZ have had an enormous year. Made up of Isaac 'Zac' De Boni and Michael 'Finatik' Mule, this Perth-developed super duo have come out into 2022 swinging, placing production credits on Jack Harlow's 'Dua Lipa', Kendrick Lamar's 'Die Hard' featuring Blxst and Amanda Reifer, and more recently the billboard topping global hit 'WAIT FOR U' by Future, Drake, and Tems.
With the addition of The Kid LAROI and Justin Bieber's worldwide smash 'STAY' to the seemingly limitless production credits of FNZ, there is no doubt that the duo have been making iconic anthems for the past couple of years. Although seemingly extensive, this is merely a drop in the ocean in accordance with the pair’s current discography.
Previous production placements include Kanye West, Baby Keem, Pop Smoke, Rick Ross, Megan Thee Stallion, Denzel Curry, Chloe Bailey, French Montana, and Anuel AA. To say that FNZ has sway on hip-hop culture would be an understatement, as they continue to construct hip-hop's biggest tracks to date.
KEVIN PARKER - RIHANNA, TRAVIS SCOTT, LADY GAGA
Without bringing up Kevin Parker, you cannot talk about Australian Rock, let alone hip-hop’s cultural sway. Better known as the brain behind Tame Impala, Kevin has maintained international stardom status for well over 10 years, gracing the world with iconic psychedelic rock hits such as 'Feels Like We Only Go Backwards', and 'The Less I Know The Better'. Great power comes with being dominant leaders for a whole genre, which applies to both Tame Impala and Rihanna. On her latest and most successful album to date ‘ANTI’, Rihanna covered Tame Impala's 'New Person, Same Old Mistakes' in a sensual fashion that only Rihanna could make her own.
Kevin also shares production credits with Travis Scott on 'SKELETONS', Lady Gaga on 'Perfect Illusion', and The Weeknd's 'Repeat After Me (Interlude)', with shared written credits on Kanye West's 'Violent Crimes'. Last but certainly not least, he has been sampled by Kid Cudi, A$AP Rocky, Maxo Cream, and Lil Yachty.
Australia's impact on Hip Hop and R&B culture worldwide is underrated beyond reasonable doubt. From Hiatus Kaiyote being sampled by the likes of Jay Z, to Khaled Rohaim’s written credits spanning Doja Cat and Polo G. There is a sense of authenticity and individuality that comes with Australian music. Without question, these edges are what attract international artists and leaders to be a little more like us.
Words by Dexter Saemo (@smofrrr)