Australia’s hip hop and rap scene has just kept growing over the last couple of decades, and we’re now flush with some serious talent, with plenty of our veterans are still going strong, while also making way for new generations of young spitters.
With one of our hip hop juggernauts 360 about to return with his long-awaited fourth album Vintage Modern, we thought we’d take a look at some of the acts who not only make some of the best hip hop in the country, but can also back it up with their live shows.
While we could name dozens more (and we’re sure they’ll show up in the comments), from established vets to the newcomers, these are 10 emcees/groups who deliver as much onstage as they do in the booth, and get the crowd absolutely jumping.
Sixty managed to win fans over with some serious charm and often brutal honesty, and his openness with fans spills over onto the stage too, where he’s always been able to work the crowd into a frenzy over. There’s a reason Six was picked to support Eminem on his Aussie tour alongside Kendrick Lamar, as he’s one of the most commanding live performers in Australian hip hop.
He’s also collaborated with some acts that have helped tip his shows to higher heights, like longtime mates PEZ and Seth Sentry, and his team-up with Peking Duk made for one of the best surprise moments in Splendour’s history. He’s got a few of them featuring on Vintage Modern too, and from what we’ve heard so far, it should go off when he tours it across Australia early 2018.
Sampa The Great
One of the best emerging talents in the country period, Sampa delivers a powerful brand of poetry, but this isn’t some spoken word poetry jam. Her flows are impeccable, and her voice powerful, as she toys playfully with rhythm in front of her live band (anchored by guitarist Godriguez).
Almost no list about Australian hip hop will be complete without the Hilltops on it, least of all this one. They’ve always been amazing to witness live, one of the most powerful hip hop groups you’ll find, and their tracks even worked impeccably well with an orchestra when they busted out their ‘restrung’ versions live.
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The Perth rapper had the BIGSOUND crowd in the palm of his hand this year, as he weaved a narrative throughout his entire set, his audience becoming more and more invested as each track went by. Nobody wanted his set to end, and he’s built the perfect platform to deliver his powerful, politically-charged lyrics.
A newer name on the list, the independent Brisbane rapper put on one hell of a show at BIGSOUND this year, and her constant interaction with the crowd and her DJ made for a seriously compelling show. At 22he’s already supported 360, Tkay Maidza, David Dallas, Bliss N Eso, Allday, Akala and Lady Leshurr, so it’s no surprise she’s got some serious live chops.
Funkoars / Trials
Funkoars are, hands down , one of the best live acts Australian hip hop has ever seen. And while Sesta and Hons may not have been super active in the last couple of years, Trials has been holding it down alongside Briggs in A.B. Original, and he’s always a joy to watch.
There aren’t many rappers in the country who can give as much energy to a performance as Drapht does, while also keeping up the intricate voice modulation that’s his trademark. It’s tough to replicate what he does on record, but somehow he manages it without falling back on hype men.
The combined powers of Horrorshow, Jackie Onassis, Spit Syndicate and Joyride have made for one of the most consistently great hip hop crews in the world, and whether they’re together or playing separately, they’re always great to watch. Joyride is currently doing his thing with his new solo direction too, and puts on just as great a gig singing as he does rapping.
Bliss N Eso
The ultimate duo in Australian hip hop, their constant back and forth always makes for a killer set, helped by having one of the best DJs in the game, DJ Izm, perched at the back and giving every show that proper old-school hip hop flavour. At other times, like their ARIAs set below, bringing a bunch of live instrumentation in helps to take the sound to serious arena levels.
One of the best emerging hip hop artists in the country, no doubt, B Wise could step into the shoes of many of the bigger names on this list – and he just might. Hailing from Sydney’s inner south west, he’s supported everyone from Tuka to Kid Cudi and held it down at Listen Out festival – it feels like a matter of time until he’s taking his killer live set to even bigger stages.
360’s new album Vintage Modern is out tomorrow, and he’ll be taking the record on the road with him for a national tour next year – check out the dates below, along with his new track with Pez and Seth Sentry, ‘Coup De Grace’.
360 ‘Vintage Modern’ 2018 Australian tour
Saturday, 24th February 2018
The Evelyn, Melbourne (U18)
Friday, 2nd March 2018
The Metro, Sydney
Saturday, 3rd March 2018
The Triffid, Brisbane
Friday, 9th March 2018
The Gov, Adelaide
Saturday, 10th March
The Astor, Perth
Friday, 16th March
The Forum, Melbourne (18+)