When you think of the land down under, you don't think of rap. You think of Koala's, Kangaroo's and to be quite frank, Kylie Minogue. However, if you ever gain the opportunity to, you really should check out Australia's Hip Hop scene. It appears that every Hip Hop scene, with the exception of the US has an exceptional underground core. Being that predominantly, mainstream artists originate in America, the rest of the world flourishes beneath the surface. Enter a "traditional" club in London, New York, Vancouver or even Sydney for that matter and try to avoid hearing what's popular at the moment (50 Cent is the current flavour of the month). But, with this comes scene's which spawn some of the greatest talent this world knows. Hilltop Hoods are one of Australia's musical gems. Proud of their accents (as they should be - though not all Australian emcee's rap in their native accents), the Hoods follow in the footsteps of such legends as Mass MC and the Dominion crew.
The problem I find with most releases these days is the feeling that the material is forced and approached with a specific method. Emcees tend not to have as much fun but attempt to fulfill a purpose, which is either to deliver a message or appeal to the club crowd and make money. Bridging between both isn't an easy task, but the Hoods deserve to have that accolade.
A couple of albums deep, and as stated on "Testimonial Year", over ten years creating and being actively involved in the scene, the Hilltop Hoods are no newcomers. Their material has been reviewed upon this site by another reviewer, but I've never had the opportunity to take a listen to their work. I'm pleased to have now had the direct privilege.
Music serves many a purpose. A background comfort, an audio driven centerpiece or more frequently something to drive feeling/emotion. Diverse albums are hard to pull off and though it seems like I'm bestowing a lot of praise upon the Hoods, I think it's deserved. From discussing their history in melancholy manners ("The Calling") through to amusing tracks and brilliantly told stories. The Hoods' production excellently lives beneath their rhymes.
Tracks like "The Nosebleed Section" and "The Sentinel" are all you really need as reason to purchase "The Calling." These excellently performed tracks feature choice samples which work wonders. "The Nosebleed Section" features Suffer and Pressue (the group's emcee's) rhyming about their status and thanks to those who supported them. From what I've heard, it was one of Australia's most successful tracks within the continent in 2003. "The Sentinel" blew me away the first time I heard it. It tells a tale of the group discovering an underground club that doesn't advertise. The club is a dream site; cheap drinks, beautiful women and great music. There's only one catch (which you'll have to discover following purchasing the album).
The varying topics and showcasing of the group's skills are also well showcased upon "Walk On," a politcally driven track discussing the situation with Australia's political heads following American policy.
As I wind down my praising session, all I really need to state is that the Hilltop Hoods deserve considerably more worldwide exposure. You should purchase "The Calling" over at HilltopHoods.com