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9 Perth Artists You Should Check Out Immediately

Exciting things are brewing over on the West Coast! We delve into 9 Perth artists we've got our eye on right now.

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Perth has always punched above its weight when it comes to music. Artists like Tame Impala, Spacey Jane and Sly Withers all come from Perth, making it a veritable hub of guitar-based music. Just look at the results of the most recent Hottest 100. Making sun-soaked music in Perth and ending up in a band that’s at least moderately successful appears to be a rite of passage for any bright-eyed teenager from WA, much like going to Chicken Treat or visiting the Busselton Jetty.

However, it’s not just guitar-based bands that are pushing the Perth music scene forward. Perth is home to some of the nation’s most exciting rappers and R&B singers, and there are a range of organisations pushing Perth hip-hop forward, including 6000 Events, S1XTEEN, 6KMC and RTRFM. Rachel Goad, an artist manager, DJ and radio broadcaster who calls Perth home, says that the hip-hop scene in Perth has grown significantly over the last few years, and Perth audiences are more tapped in than ever. “The 6K movement has grown now to a point that local shows are bringing in audiences and selling out comparatively to a few years back when the audience was literally just the other acts,” she explains. “The city is still small enough that if an interstate act comes the local scene that’s tapped in with Australian music will show up and turn out.” 

Liv Declerck, a WA-based journalist, echoes Rachel’s thoughts. The scene is a tight-knit one, and the love extends beyond Perth artists. “The connection and warmth of the Perth hip-hop community is a strength that immediately comes to mind,” Liv says. “This powerful community feel isn’t limited to the artists – it welcomes in anyone contributing to the industry: producers, photographers, videographers, graphic designers and visual artists (creating cover art), event coordinators… you get the picture.” Given Perth’s location relative to the rest of the world, it’s not hard to see why those involved in the Perth music scene are so ready and willing to support each other, and Liv’s pride for the 6K is evident. “I think Perth is a hidden corner of our planet filled with rich artistic treasures not acknowledged or touched by the vast majority of the world,“ she says. 

While Perth’s status as a far-away land helps unite the musical community, its geographical location can also make it harder for artists from the 6K to pop off nationally, especially when compared to their East Coast compatriots. Someone who made the move from Perth to Brisbane for more opportunities is Gamirez, an artist, A&R and artist manager. Reflecting on the move, he says that the move allowed him to tour more frequently and play in different cities. However, he still feels that his time in Perth was formative. Perth’s smaller scene (by comparison) meant he “had to create my own luck and learn from my own mistakes and take a risk with my day job wages. From spending money on home studio equipment, putting on shows that don’t sell to spending money on marketing… It was like an internship for many years learning the game the hard way. Now I’ve got multiple skill sets for every challenge that comes my way.” As any music industry professional will happily attest to, the smaller a community, the more hats everyone involved has to wear. 

The cost of travelling for shows is another challenge that both Gamirez and Rachel highlighted. The costs of touring have been spoken about by artists of all sizes in recent times: in a heartfelt statement about cancelling a tour, American singer Santigold wrote about the skyrocketing costs of touring in a post-pandemic world. These costs are amplified in a country as vast as Australia. To help mitigate these costs, Gamirez wants to see the return of a budget airline – “Tiger Airlines could come back with their $300 return flight to Brisbane instead of paying around a thousand dollars a person to fly out of Perth”, while Rachel suggests that more artists look into the funding that’s available. She explains, “Grants being more easily accessible would help artists that have no team and have to navigate that application process by themself.” 

Despite the challenges that creatives from Western Australia face, there are undeniably a lot of great artists coming out of Perth at the moment. To help get you across what’s happening over in Western Australia, we’ve put together a list of 9 of our favourite Perth artists and explained why you should have them on your radar heading into 2023 and beyond. 

01. Shadow

When grime had a huge moment in Australia a few years ago, Perth MC Shadow was there, releasing anthems like the hectic ‘Cream’, which remains a defining track of grime in Australia. The Nerve-produced ‘Lemonade’ is equally memorable and a much, much better team-up than Batman vs. Superman, one of the worst movies ever made. Fast forward to 2023? Shadow is still one of the country’s premier MCs. He’s ageing like a fine wine.

His recent EP, Black Out, is a good way for new fans to get into his discography: it’s an autobiographical project that’s packed with confidence and wit, like on the aptly-named ‘Bounce. Shadow’s one of a handful of Australian artists that could pull off a line like “say that you keep it a hunnid?/They know I keep it a thousand”. When Shadow delivers it, it sounds supremely cool. As soon as you start to assume what Shadow’s range is, however, he hits you with a left-turn. The EP’s title track shows off his singing chops, and it’s this versatility that makes him one of Perth’s favourite sons. International artists clearly take notice too, as he’s played shows with the likes of Brockhampton, AJ Tracey and D Double E.

Standout track: ‘Lemonade’

Photos c/o Shadow via Instagram

02. Kota

Burmese-Australian MC Kota might just be the most openly proud Western Australian on this list – which is no easy feat. He’s able to bring some serious energy whenever he jumps on an EDM-tinged track, and many of his singles are designed to soundtrack kick-ons, Bouncy, bubbly tracks like ‘Perth Vibe’ and ‘Aussie Raver’ (which featured on Heartbreak High) tell you exactly what Kota’s all about: having a bloody good time. It’s nigh on impossible to avoid getting swept up in his energy when he’s on a roll, so just let the euphoria wash over you. As Kota raps on ‘Aussie Raver’, “I’m from Perth/and I love this place”. The 6K flows through his veins.

Kota’s got more up his sleeve than it might appear at first glance, however. As he demonstrated on his 2022 EP Choices, he’s not afraid to look inwards and write more introspective rhymes when the time’s right. The eight-minute EP (mostly) eschews the hyperactive EDM beats that underpin many of his singles, and swaying tracks like ‘Peace Signs’ and , and ‘Choices’ give Kota a platform to explain his musical journey so far. By the end of it, you’ll find yourself firmly in his corner.

Standout song: ‘Aussie Raver’

Photos c/o Kota via Instagram

03. Mali Jo$e

SUNSEEKER EP is one of the best Australian projects from last year, and we’re setting you some homework: give it a spin when you next get the chance. Across SUNSEEKER, Mali Jo$e establishes himself as one of Australia’s premier lyricists, even going toe-to-toe with Mick Jenkins on ‘Interventions’. Every note on the EP is full of intention, and you’ll learn more about yourself by listening to Mali’s musings. 

Don’t confuse his introspection for whimsy, though. Within 10 seconds of the project’s opening/title track ‘SUNSEEKER’, Mali lets the listener know that he “can’t be fucked with interactions if it ain’t money moves”. He brings this energy throughout the project, and by the end, he’s made a statement: ignore his rise at your own peril. If you’re a fan of artists like J.I.D and J. Cole, then you’ll want to spin this – as Mali writes on his Unearthed profile, he is “one of a kind”, but he moves with similar purposefulness to the two Dreamville stars.

Standout song: ‘Interventions’ feat. Mick Jenkins

Photos c/o Mali Jo$e

04. Brazen Barbie

Brazen Barbie makes money-making music. If you’re not looking to increase your net worth after hearing Brazen Barbie rap, then you need to turn the music up. The Perth MC has collaborated multiple times with R&B singer Nxlly (who we’ll talk about later), but she’s just as compelling when she’s on a track solo. She knows when to hit listeners with a fast-paced flow and when to pull back and let her lyrics speak for themselves. It’s a balancing act that she pulls off with aplomb. 

While she’s only released a handful of singles so far, there’s a lot of room for Brazen Barbie to grow – and honestly, she’s also got one of the best artist names in the country. Fans of GloRilla and Remy Ma should check out Brazen Barbie immediately.

Standout song: ‘Watchout’ feat. Nxlly

Photos c/o Brazen Barbie via Instagram

05. Harry Hilfiger

Including Harry Hilfiger on this list is designed to ensure it ages well. While the 18-year-old hasn’t officially released any music, he’s been sharing snippets on social media that have seen him rack up co-signs from those in the know. You can also check out a couple of his loosies on SoundCloud, and listening to Harry call out to the universe as he glides over JCAL’s production on ‘Give Me A Sign’ brings to mind another young Australian artist that’s now a global superstar.

Harry’s also an example of an artist that’s made the leap from Perth to Sydney. He made the move when he was 17 in order to chase opportunities in the music scene. Only time will tell how this move pans out for the young MC, but we’re tipping you’ll see his name everywhere before too much longer.

Standout song: The unreleased ‘Give Me A Sign’

Photo c/o: @brendancphoto 

06. Vahsoong

Teenage MC Vahsoong’s voice is deeper than that of people 30 years older than him – and it allows him to imbue every word he raps into a mic with gravitas. His recent EP, Vah, is a 4-track project that oozes potential, and his vocal performances are compelling. There’s wisdom beyond his years present in many moments on Vah, and it serves as a reminder to keep your circle small. Across tracks like opener ‘Records, Pt. 2’ and ‘Hor Yah’, Vahsoong wields the pen like a knife, jabbing those in his life that aren’t living up to his expectations.

It’s hip-hop that’ll resonate with fans who want an artist’s bars to be front and centre, but Vahsoong’s beat selection keeps things feeling fresh from song to song. If you’re a fan of the golden age of hip-hop, then give Vah closer ‘A Thing About Me’ a spin. His discography features a range of styles, like the drill-tinged ‘Cop Car’, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it track that features the instantly quotable line “left home on a scooter/came back in a cop car”.

Standout song: ‘Cop Car’

Photos c/o Vahsoong

07. Nxlly

We didn’t want to make this list without shouting out Nxlly, one of the country’s most talented R&B singers. Her 2022 EP. FaKe LuV, is a 5-song journey that’s designed for any late-night misadventures, and fans of Kehlani and SZA will eat this up. Project standout ‘I GOTCHU’ is a combination of fire and ice, as it features a flamethrower of a verse from Perth MC Brazen Barbie.

Much like this piece, FaKe LuV also serves as a bit of an introduction of a quartet of Perth artists. Vmarie, LXDY Z and the aforementioned Brazen Barbie all make appearances on the EP, and we wholeheartedly recommend checking out their releases after listening to FaKe LuV. Do yourself a favour.

Standout song: ‘I GOTCHU’ feat. Brazen Barbie

Photos c/o Nxlly via Instagram

08. GHO$T MAC®400

Is Rap&B a dated term? Even if it might be, it feels particularly apt when listening to Perth’s GHO$T MAC®400. He’s only released a handful of singles to date, but across melodic, lovesick releases like ‘Like That’ and ‘Raining Outside’, he’s showcased his ability to switch between a hypnotising croon and a laid-back, confident delivery.

Out of everyone on this list, GHO$T MAC®400 feels like one of the readiest to be discovered by the masses. It’s not hard to imagine a room full of people swaying along to his music, phone lights in the air. There’s something intrinsically welcoming about GHO$T MAC®400’s music – you can’t help but want to see him win. 

Standout song: ‘Like That’ – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCH7G18jmEg

Photo c/o @400inc via Instagram

09. Sowdy

Perth MC Sowdy is one of the pillars of the city’s scene. Over the last few years, he’s developed a knack for writing insightful, heartfelt tracks that don’t get bogged down in melancholy – instead, they showcase Sowdy’s mission to make tomorrow a better day Speaking about being from Perth, Sowdy says, “Living in Perth has been nothing but a blessing for my own artistic growth. That freedom I spoke about earlier has been so essential in my development. Being able to freely experiment without the pressure of upholding industry standards has helped me refine my craft to a level I don’t think I would have been able to reach if I was somewhere else.” 

When he’s not making music, Sowdy is also running Shine! Records, a label that’s home to fellow Perth artists K Tha Sovereign (who features on the raucous and menacing‘Stay Safe’), Macks Martin and Dimslim. Speaking about running Shine!, Sowdy reveals, “This is a legacy sort of thing I’m aiming for with this collective and label. I know that it may not be the kind of thing that just pops off out of nowhere, and my artists and I are clear on that. We have a vision to not compromise our vision for anyone, and I have supreme confidence in the artists I’m working with and the art that’s being made over here. It’ll eventually get to the point of the quality of music being undeniable, and audiences organically coming to us.” Stay tuned for his new album, Paint The City Purple, which is out on February 3rd.

Standout song: ‘Stay Safe’ feat. K Tha Sovereign

Photo c/o Sowdy via Instagram