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A cold drink under sun with Australia’s Hilltop Hoods

Submitted by on March 22, 2012 – 10:48 pmNo Comment

The sixth studio offering from Hilltop Hoods – the heavyweight hip-hop trio who call Adelaide, Australia, home – may be the hottest rap album of the year to date. The 13-track opus recently bumped Adele’s 21 from the top spot after 31 weeks atop Australian album charts. Hilltop’s new album boasts appearances by some of hip-hop’s most respected rhymers, including Black Thought of The Roots, Chali 2na and prolific rapper-producer Classified. During a recent tour stop in Toronto for Canadian Music Week, Martyr caught up with MC Pressure – one third of the collective – to talk about the collaboration with Class, the state of Canadian and Australian hip-hop, and his crew’s new album, the infectious and anthemic Drinking From The Sun.

Throughout the album you mention Canada on tracks three, five and on 14 collaborate with Nova Scotia’s Classified. Is there any particular reason for the overt Canadiana, or was it purely coincidental?

The collaboration came about from having a close, working relationship with Classified and the Halflife crew. We supported him a few years ago in Canada, and he supported us in Australia. The other stuff was just kinda mentions through touring and giving shout-outs to various places in the world. We’ve done a fair bit of touring in Canada over the last five years, so it’s coincidence I guess.

Do you see similarities in the Aussie and Canadian hip-hop scenes?

Yeah, I think there is a fair few similarities in the Canadian and Australian hip-hop scene. The two countries themselves have a very similar way of life, and the general outlook of the people in both countries is very similar. That flows over through the voice of the people, which is hip-hop.

How does it feel to have your album be the first in 31 weeks to knock Adele’s 21 from the top spot on the Australian album charts?

Someone had to do it eventually. It was being in the right place at the right time… but we’re pretty amazed at the support and overwhelmingly positive feedback we’ve been getting from the album. That’s the main thing that matters for us.

Since the last album (2009’s State Of The Art) you guys have dropped the indie moniker, started a label and signed to a major. With this record, do you feel you’ve made the move, as coined by your crew, from under to “above ground?”

The concept of the name of the album is about an underground culture and an underground music, hip-hop, that’s risen into the limelight and is now reaping the rewards and benefits and love of a wider listening base. It [the music] is getting shone on in Australia and around the world more than it ever has been and I think we’ve kinda risen to that sort of spot, specifically in Australia.

Where’d the idea for the Hoods and Chali 2na’s “Speaking in Tongues” spawn from?

All three members [MC Suffa and DJ Debris round out the group] are big Jurassic 5 fans. The idea for the track itself is about the universal language of humanity, and we wanted to do a track that was basically anti-bigotry… And it’s about the message that music can get across what sometimes just speaking to people can’t.

“I gotta problem with people who got a problem with the way that other people wanna live.” Can you elaborate?

At the end of the day, it’s about worrying about yourself and not worrying about how other people are living. If my next-door neighbour happens to be homosexual, that doesn’t affect me, so why should I worry about that. If he’s of a different race or different religion, or from a different part of the world, it doesn’t affect my life, so why should I care?

The cost of fame, lost love, alcoholism, car accidents and death all find their way onto this album. What were the challenges, as you’ve said, of putting three years of your life on record?

The challenge for us is we wanted Drinking From The Sun to really reflect us as we are now, not where we were three years ago. We wanted it to be a journey over the last three years, of making the album, touring the last album and bringing the new album to the table.

Would you say this is the darkest album you’ve made?

How an artist thinks an album sounds always, for some reason, comes out different to how people perceive. I guess that’s for other people to say.

There does seem to be a light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel aura around this album. Do you guys see it that way within the outfit?

Most certainly. There’s definitely some dark and moody moments on the album but I think the overall message is pretty overwhelmingly positive… Life is about working hard at what you love, and chasing your dream, and following what you believe, and following your heart.

You’ve hinted that you went into the studio with intentions of recording two albums. Any chance Drinking From The Sun could prove to be part one of a larger project?

Yes, there’s quite a big chance there’s gonna be an album sooner than later.

Interview by Remi L. Roy

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