Reviewed on Friday September 5
A few years ago, the term ‘Aussie hip hop’ was enough to evoke fear in the heart of music’s cognoscenti, its early forms seeming to impersonate American counterparts with cringeworthy slang and an all-too-familiar ’Strayan drawl. But with the Hordern packed to the brim at this evening’s outset, hundreds of spectators occupying prime floor positions, it’s clear a lot has changed.
The bill for Aussie hip hop top gun 360’s Utopia tour is promising, comprising a pick of local acts Miracle and Pez with a sprinkle of international flair in LA rapper Hopsin, whose appearance was the result of a successful social media campaign by 360 himself, and award-winning Englishman Lunar C. By the time Lunar C opens the show, there’s already a tangible buzz in the room. Miracle follows with another short set, his slick new cuts paving the way for Pez’s bangers that send the all-age audience nuts.
Next up is Hopsin, who’s evidently chuffed at his appearance being demanded by 360’s devotees. So much so that he proceeds to crowd-surf one song in. Insisting he stand up on a crowd member’s shoulders for the second song, he spits out the typically abrasive star-spangled bitches-and-hoes brand of hip hop, which in this lineup, sticks out like a sore thumb pointed downwards. “Holy shit, fools tryna kill me!” he shouts into the mic, as an audience member grabs him in a headlock. Scrambling back onto the stage, he replaces the shoe he’s lost while his DJ awkwardly tries to provide some casual banter. “That’s the last time he comes to Australia,” I hear someone snicker behind me.
To everyone’s relief, the man of the moment saves the day. Commanding the stage with the first track from Utopia, the middle-finger-to-haters ‘Still Rap’, 360’s flow is elevating and all present are ecstatically caught in it. Injecting old favourites like ‘Run Alone’ into fresh tracks from the new album (that everyone, evidently, already knows the lyrics to), ’60 catapults through his set, with Lunar C, Pez and Miracle joining him onstage for collaborative tracks and adding kerosene to the sonic fire.
“When I started rapping, it wasn’t cool. If anyone tells you you can’t do something, tell them to suck a dick and fuck off!” he declares, to screams and fist pumps. Melburnian pop performer Gossling emerges to help close the show, with her sweet vocals on ‘Boys Like You’ intoxicating in the mix. 360’s tracks aren’t your standard feel-good fare; they’re more feel-invincible.