Hilltop Hoods

Hilltop Hoods

Create, innovate, inspire, repeat.

It is this ethos that has allowed Adelaide’s Hilltop Hoods to continue to rattle the keys to the Australian Hip Hop kingdom

The trio Suffa, Pressure and DJ Debris began igniting the local Hip Hop scene back when they started grinding out impressive underground gigs off the back of a handful of early releases („Back Once Again‟, „Left Foot Right Foot‟ and „A Matter Of Time‟). They then smashed the Hip Hop doors open into the mainstream with the break out platinum record „The Calling‟. They turned the heads of rock fans, dance music devotees and even casual radio listeners with their infectious beats. The album produced the smash hit „The Nosebleed Section‟ which became an unofficial anthem for the genre giving the crew widespread national radio play and public props for the most popular Australian hip hop track ever produced, making it in at #4 on the coveted Triple J‟s Hottest 100 of all time poll - the only track from this genre to do so, and the highest of any Australian act.

The 2006 follow-up ‘The Hard Road’, which debuted at #1 on the ARIA album chart and went on to become the group’s second platinum album, landed 5 tracks in Triple J‟s Hottest 100, won two ARIA Awards and picked up the coveted J Award. Later, with the assistance of composer Jamie Messenger, the Hoods’ reworked „The Hard Road‟ to create „The Hard Road Restrung‟, incorporating the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. The album would go on to Gold certification and take home the 2007 ARIA Award for Best Urban Release.

The Hoods’ continued breaking new ground when they produced the biggest selling Australian Hip Hop album of all time with „State of the Art‟ (2009). Debuting at #1 on the ARIA chart it held its position for two weeks (simultaneously being certified Gold). The album sailed past Double Platinum status after yielding the Double Platinum single „Chase That Feeling‟ and Platinum single „Still Standing‟. The album won the ARIA award for Best Urban Release and kept the group dominating radio airwaves and filling arenas around Australia and overseas.

We last heard from Hilltop Hoods on 2012’s „Drinking From the Sun‟ an album that changed the game again, becoming the group’s 3rd consecutive #1 album and going Gold on the day of its release. It was then certified Platinum within just one week. They once again crossed over, taking one of the world’s biggest pop stars in SIA, and throwing her unique vocal stylings over their most successful single to date, the Triple Platinum „I Love It‟. They also struck a chord with some of their idols, working with Chali 2na of Jurassic 5, and The Roots’ Black Thought. Within a year the album reached Double Platinum with critical acclaim.

In support of „Drinking From the Sun‟ the Hoods completed a maiden US tour in support of their recent signing with Fontana (USA). On top of this the Hoods’ released their music in markets all over the world via Universal Music, and subsequently completed sold out dates in Canada, UK, Germany and Switzerland (including festival appearances at Glastonbury, T In The Park, Open Air Frauenfeld, Splendour In The Grass and Wireless).

Apart from their accomplishments on stage and in the studio, Hilltop Hoods also established one of Australia’s most well respected Hip Hop Labels, Golden Era Records (GER), to promote some of Australia’s finest local Hip Hop talent (Vents/Briggs/Funkoars/K21). Along with GER, the Hoods have never forgotten their roots, giving back to the Hip Hop Underground each year with the "Hilltop Hoods Initiative‟ – a grant that the trio established in 2005 in conjunction with APRA to support up-and-coming Hip Hop/Soul artists around Australia.

The Adelaide trio have managed to once again push the envelope for Australian hip hop with the incendiary ‘Walking Under Stars’, which picks up exactly where “Drinking From The Sun” left off. Literally. The cryptic message left at the end of the 2012 LP opens this record, confirming that the trio were indeed working on two records and their largest project to date. The group have now delivered a project unlike anything fans have heard before – songs that bounce but also provide a deeper insight into the band. The first taste of „Walking Under Stars‟, „The Art of The Handshake‟ was received with open arms by new and old fans alike and quickly made its way to the top of Hype Machine’s hot list.

A series of guests appear on ‘Walking Under Stars‟ – New Zealand songstress Aaradhna, UK’s rising soul star Maverick Sabre, the legendary Brother Ali, ARIA Award winning soul rocker Dan Sultan and fellow Best Urban ARIA winner Drapht. While Australian radio has already fallen in love with ‘Won't Let You Down‟, Hip Hop heads will relish in the festival anthems in waiting. The undeniable nostalgic swagger of ‘Cosby Sweater‟ and the melancholy harmonies of „I‟m a Ghost‟ both bring a unique sound synonymous with the Adelaide trio on one of the year’s most anticipated releases.

Despite the sold out shows, the multi platinum records and the astonishing success they’ve experienced thus far fans can take comfort in the fact that the Hoods’ are still taking risks in order to propel the culture forward.

SIMS (Of Doomtree)

Restless and passionate but with an unflinching realism at his core, Sims has seen enough of life to know there are no easy answers. His second full-length release, Bad Time Zoo, out February 15th on Doomtree Records, reflects this rapper's ongoing quest for solid understanding in a society on the brink of dystopia. For Sims, it's been a long road.

Andrew Sims grew up in the working-class Minneapolis suburb of Hopkins, Minnesota. His parents were both musicians with problems of their own, and Sims often had to look out for himself and his younger brother. "I was super short-fused," he remembers. "I got in fights almost every day until I was about 13."

He found solace in rap and R&B music, nurturing a love for mainstream hits as well as then-underground artists such as the Wu-Tang Clan. His parents didn't approve of his new love, however, so he built a secret stash of cassette mixtapes that he traded to kids at school. He soon found a gift for rhyme and begin channeling his aggression into feisty, kinetic wordplay.

His rap habit quickly grew from playground cyphers to recorded projects. In high school, he met a local producer and rapper named P.O.S. who would sell him beats for $30 a pop and let him record at his house for free. Eventually, their home-recording experiment blossomed into a full-on musical enterprise that would pull in other aspiring artists and help put Minneapolis hip-hop on the map.

Enter Doomtree. Hailing from the same untamed Minneapolis indie music scene that spawned both punk legends the Replacements and, 20 years later, hip-hop powerhouse Rhymesayers, Doomtree has become one of the most trusted and influential names in grassroots hip-hop.

Since its birth in 2002, Doomtree has grown from a CD-R-slinging, fast-food-fueled DIY collective into a tightly knit, business-savvy operation. In addition to Sims and P.O.S., Doomtree's roster includes some of the most daring artists working in hip-hop today: Lazerbeak, Dessa, Mike Mictlan, Paper Tiger, and Cecil Otter.

In a genre that all too often rewards imitation over innovation, Doomtree's artists strive for originality without sacrificing mass appeal. As a result, fans of Doomtree have come to expect uncommon hip-hop delivered in clever, club-rocking doses, and Bad Time Zoo will not disappoint.

Setting himself as spokesman for a generation fraught by vapid commercialism, political cynicism, and the paradoxical power of technology to both connect us and drive us apart, Sims seeks a path out of the disappointment that plagues modern life. The time of plenty, inbox full / So why do I feel so goddamn empty? he demands on opening track "Future Shock."

But while he casts himself as an alienated prophet, make no mistake: Sims' message is of empowerment, hope, and badass beats. The results are epically infectious.

Over the pulse and sway of Lazerbeak's urgent, expansive production, Sims raises 50-story verses and swings wrecking-ball choruses. With scenes straight from Darwin's nightmares – people as animals gorging in the streets ("The Veldt") – Bad Time Zoo is not so much a hip-hop album as a teeming, beat-driven urban wilderness.

On the horn-sample-driven first single, "Burn It Down," Sims raps like a red-eyed city planner who just downed his eighth Red Bull and Adderall cocktail and is on the street corner calling for destruction before renewal. Or take the thumping, wickedly funny "One Dimensional Man," an indictment of complacent liberals: You did your part, you gave your hundred bucks to NPR / You joined a co-op now, bought the hybrid car. (For the record, Sims votes Democrat and drives a hybrid.)

But lest you think you need an advanced degree and a machete to enter Bad Time Zoo, Sims keeps his narratives grounded and real, and Lazerbeak's musical compositions would sound just as good on a club PA as headphones. Just spin "Love My Girl," a pop confection that juxtaposes dark observations on the dating life with a surprisingly sweet candy center.

A pop-culture omnivore, Sims cites influences that range from the sci-fi of Ray Bradbury, to the films of David Lynch, to the 1940s graphic novels of Will Eisner. But most of all, Sims listens to the world around him.

"I draw a lot more from human interaction than I do from music," he says. "I listen and try to understand how people function."

Like all good writers, Sims has an ear for what makes us human.

"What are your soft spots? When are you at your most defensive, your most unabashedly happy or proud?" he elaborates. "Or when I see someone try to cobble a defense together when they're hurting. Those moments are noteworthy to me. I try to pay attention to them."

Pay attention to Sims, and you'll be better for it.


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