It’s Tuesday morning when Solo, the MC half of Sydney hip hop outfit Horrorshow, answers the phone from a quiet nook in his home city. The preceding weekend brought the news that King Amongst Many, their first album since 2009’s Inside Story, had debuted at number two on the ARIA charts. Solo projects a mix of pride and relief – not so much in regards to the album’s chart positioning, but to the tremendous response from the duo’s ever-growing fan base after such a long wait.
“These things don’t always have a clear start date, but we started thinking about the record as soon as we finished the last one – which was back in October 2009,” Solo says. “That was the early stages of throwing ideas around about the kind of record that we wanted to make. But there are a couple of tracks that date back to that time, when there was an original sketch of a beat kicking around. That’s when some of the early ideas started to take shape. We’ve been bunkered down pretty hard in the past year or so working on it in amongst touring, then doubly hard in the past six months. That was the end of a process that kicked off a few years ago.”
That three-and-a-half-year-long process imbued the record with tremendous variety and depth – qualities that didn’t always come easy for Solo and beatmaker Adit. “We’ve definitely ran the gamut, been through plenty of ups and downs in the process of getting this record ready. There were times when we were really on a roll, and there were times when the writing process wasn’t coming to me as quickly as I wanted. The last month or two, having wrapped up the record – which was itself a pretty crazy race to the finish … it was pretty hectic. Then the month since then, we’ve been trying to channel the energy that’s out there. There’s certainly been a crazy amount of anticipation from our listeners, and from us. We just got to the point where we really needed to get it out there in the world to see what people make of it. There were all sorts of emotions involved in the process.”
King Amongst Many lands in yet another purple patch for local hip hop, with 2013 set to be one of its finest years yet. “It’s definitely an interesting time for the music, people are pushing it in different directions,” says Solo. “The last however many years, we’ve seen an explosion of the hip hop scene that keeps on getting bigger and bigger. Artists are getting more opportunities … There’s more food on the table, so to speak, and there are more people getting a seat at that table. There are more voices emerging, which is great.”
“I think what we’re starting to see happen is that our predecessors were people that grew up on classic American rap … [Now there’s] such a strong back catalogue of Australian releases, and for us as younger dudes listening to that stuff, it gives us more tradition to build upon and a greater sense of fluency. There’s not that many barriers to overcome to feel comfortable being Australian and making hip hop. We’re in an environment where we are beyond that”.
As for the high charting of King Amongst Many, Solo is philosophical when it comes to what it means for Horrorshow and the broader hip hop community. “It’s a funny thing. Me and Adit were chatting about it last week, where we might land on the chart and how we could be as proactive as we could getting people to buy the album. We had a pretty funny moment where we realised it was such a strange conversation to be having … But it’s like [Urthboy] said in one of his tweets, a number is just a number and it’s never going to capture the full worth of what we have going on here.”
BY LACHLAN KANONIUK