The Grass is Greener launched in 2016 as an all-ages boutique music festival with events in various regional Queensland locations. In 2022, the festival expands beyond the northern border, with dates not just in Cairns and the Gold Coast but also in Canberra and Geelong.

The 2022 lineup is the biggest in the festival’s history. While previous editions have included artists such as The Veronicas, Amy Shark, Choomba and Darude, in 2022, the Grass is Greener presents a smorgasbord of local and international hip hop, pop and electronic music, as well as two of Australia’s most successful independent acts, Sydney band Sticky Fingers and Mount Druitt drill leaders ONEFOUR.

Here are our picks of the stand-out acts on this year’s Grass is Greener festival lineup.

The internationals

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Ty Dolla $ign tops the list of visiting acts for this year’s Grass the Greener festival. If you’ve paid any attention to mainstream pop, R&B or hip hop over the last half-dozen years, the suffix “feat. Ty Dolla $ign” is one you’re no doubt familiar with. 

Ty, also known as Tyrone Griffin Jr., has featured on tracks by hip hop greats like Kanye West, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Pusha-T, as well as Big Sean, Lupe Fiasco, Jermaine Dupri, Megan Thee Stallion and Tyler, the Creator.

In recent years, he’s branched out to appear on songs by DJs David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia and The Chainsmokers, UK multi-instrumentalist wunderkind Jacob Collier and experimental musician serpentwithfeet. We haven’t even mentioned the most popular collaboration in Ty’s back catalogue, the Fifth Harmony mega-hit “Work From Home”.

In a nod to his status as a contemporary pop post-script, Ty named his latest album Featuring Ty Dolla $ign. But he flips the set-up on the hour-long album, hosting the likes of Post Malone, Kid Cudi, Future, Young Thug, Thundercat, Kanye, Nicki Minaj and more on a suite of songs that Pitchfork’s Dani Blum praised as Ty asserting “his mastery over 25 lush, intricate tracks.”

Compton rapper YG is another Ty Dolla $ign collaborator. The pair have appeared on more than half a dozen tracks together dating back to “Sorry Momma” from YG’s 2014 album My Krazy Life. YG, like Ty, is a versatile collaborator—his latest album, Kommunity Service, is a West Coast hip hop history lesson created alongside Sacramento rapper Mozzy.

YG’s biggest hits include “Big Bank”, a collab with 2 Chainz, Big Sean and Nicki Minaj from YG’s 2018 album, Stay Dangerous, and “Why You Always Hatin?”, from 2016’s Still Brazy, featuring Drake and Kamaiyah. Most recently YG released the singles “Scared Money” (with J. Cole) and “Run” (with Tyga and 21 Savage). YG’s sixth album, Pray For Me, is expected to drop in time for his Grass is Greener appearance.

Aluna is the long-awaited solo project of Aluna Francis, one-half of the British electro-pop duo AlunaGeorge. After two breakout albums with partner in crime George Reid, Aluna went solo with 2020’s Renaissance, an album that flirts with dancehall, funk, house and Caribbean dance music, emphasising pop hooks throughout.

Maya Jane Coles is a London-based producer and DJ who made her name in the 2000s with the dance and dubstep duo She Is Danger. The duo’s remix of Gorillaz’s “On Melancholy Hill” is arguably the definitive version of the song. As a solo artist, Coles creates techno music influenced by the London hip hop and dub underground.

The locals

Is it accurate to describe ONEFOUR as a cult act? The Mount Dritt hip hop crew fit this description at least insofar as they’ve managed to garner international repute despite a general snubbing by the music industry and various incursions by law enforcement.

While ONEFOUR are chiefly recognised for their distinctly Western Sydney, distinctly Pasifika spin on drill music—exemplified by tracks like “Spot the Difference” and “The Message”—they’ve demonstrated flexibility in recent years, collaborating with Stormzy, Headie One and AJ Tracey (on “Ain’t It Different”), B Wise (on “Won’t Stop”) and The Kid LAROI (on “My City”).

In June 2022, Ben “Boo” Gumbleton released his second album under the Boo Seeka moniker, Between the Head & the Heart. Boo made the album with producer Matt Bartlem (Golding) and it features guest appearances from Hayden James and Bartlem’s Golding bandmate, Jay Bainbridge. 

Boo performs guest vocals on Hayden James’ “Free” from the latter’s recent album, Lifted. Boo’s solo work is not dissimilar to the electronic pop sound favoured by James. But on Between the Head & the Heart, he offers up a dark and moody collection of garage- and dubstep-inspired originals, which he’s called “12 personal messages to myself to get me out of a rut that I was in.”

If ever the term “slaps” ought to be applied to music, the productions of Sydney-born, Brooklyn-Based artist BRUX are worthy of this onomatopoeic label. BRUX’s recent single, “BADBOI”, came out just a week after the artist supported Deadmau5 and NERO at Brooklyn Mirage. A couple of weeks later, BRUX was onstage at the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre supporting Zeds Dead.

BRUX rapid ascent is no surprise given how aptly she channels the early Ed Banger days on “BADBOI”, a lively techno number made alongside Vancouver’s Pat Lok. 

The Grass is Greener lineup also features “Get on the Beers” producers Mashd N Kutcher, a DJ set from Grammy-nominated producer Zhu, Nick Littlemore and Peter Mayes’ PNAU, the controversial Sticky Fingers, and loads more.

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