With an unprecedented amount of talent brewing on the streets of Australia and New Zealand, there are countless upcoming rappers bringing unique perspectives to culture and killing it in their area code. Here’s a handful of rising local stars we think you need to know. Check out the list below!
Five AU/NZ Rappers You Should Know
With the scene growing faster than ever, here are five local rappers from Australia and New Zealand that you should have on your radar.
ECB are a group of Bundjalung blood brothers hailing from Tweed Heads – JK-47, Chiggz, Nate G and Will – who are steadily on the rise. While the eldest brother JK has planted his flag and made his presence unavoidable, his younger brother Chiggz has been building up a strong discography of his own, anchored by his unique, husky and effortlessly cool voice. Chiggz makes no secret of his love of smoking a big ol’ blunt on the beach and, whether cause or coincidence, it matches a voice that feels lived in – carrying scars but filled with hope – that would give him an advantage over other rappers even if he weren’t just as gifted with the pen and pad.
Off the back off his Nerve-produced, head-bop inducing, money-stackin’ anthem ‘Get It’, he put out the excellent ‘The Gabo MF’s’ EP last year and this year returned with another great project “No Structure”. The smooth lead single ‘Redundant’ captures an idyllic coastal daydream, rapping about sea salt in his hands, feet in the sand and stacking a hundred grand. The rest of the EP finds him battling demons – grateful just to see another day – and parsing through troubled relationships just as much as he raps about stacking bread. With a comfortable flow and a succinct lyrical style throughout, nothing is made more important than his family and no goal more crucial than getting them a mansion.
Follow Chiggz here for more.
02. deadforest & Dera Meelan
deadforest & Dera Meelan are a rapper-producer duo out of Auckland who have known each other since kindergarten and, since 2019, have been putting out music that refuses to stay in one lane. Writing about their music almost feels like it should come with a spoiler alert, because you never where the beat’s going to go or which musical style they’re going to try out with each track.
Their EP from 2019 has an opening trilogy of lighter, more reflective tracks fit for Sunday loungin’, then as if some strain of poisonous darkness is taking over, the beats gradually become more menacing and the rhymes more hostile. Eventually you end up at ‘7Grams’, which sounds like the soundtrack to a nightmare, but not before ‘Fire Sale’ – their biggest hit so far with over a million Spotify plays – a full-blown house-hop track where DeadForest still sounds like he doesn’t like anyone.
Since then, they’ve collaborated frequently with NZ heroes Church & AP and experimented with drum-n-bass, harsh, industrial bangers and an even bigger dance-rap sound found in one of their recent singles “No Phones.” Their versatility makes every new track an exciting event.
Follow deadforest here and Dera Meelan here for more.
03. Chef Chung
Chef Chung is a bright star within a blossoming Melbourne music scene that continues to challenge what Australian rap can sound like, taking inspiration from artists like Earl Sweatshirt, MIKE, Armand Hammer, Mach-Hommy and many more to create introspective and boundary-pushing rap music. A rapper and producer whose stage name discloses his love of food, Chung has had a busy year – releasing the full-length LP ‘BETWEEN THE LILLIES’ in February (with features from some of Melbourne’s best and brightest, such as Agung Mango, 3K & Teether) and the ‘BALANCE’ EP in July.
He’s said that “even though I know what all my lyrics mean, sometimes I think, wow, this whole song is really gibberish.” More accurately, he raps the type of dense, poetic, stream-of-conscious bars that reward multiple listens and closer inspection. Within soundscapes of evolving beats and samples of ads and news clips, he explores his spirituality, his colonial surroundings and paints solitude as medicine.
Still, his greatest strength is his forward-thinking production. He can chop and manipulate samples with the best of them, he never settles for obvious drum patterns, keeps his beats evolving throughout songs and moves through different moods with ease. The highlights of each tape – ‘Soul Plate’ and ‘Holy Water’ – feel like kindred spirits with their warm, gorgeous soul-sampled beats.
He also recently launched his more upbeat side project under the name AKG-43. The usual production ingenuity is all there, just with a little extra sauce, some smooth, melodic autotune and beats that are a bit more likely to bop your head or move your feet.
Follow Chef Chung here for more.
We’re always excited to see women commanding space in AU/NZ rap, with artists like Melbourne’s Mulalo or Pookie, bursting onto the scene with such a confident, charismatic presence and fully realised sound that it’s hard to believe you’re listening to their first official single. The latest in line is South Africa-raised, Aotearoa-based rapper Jujulipps with her debut single ‘Hillary Banks’.
The song is inspired by Will’s cousin on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, with Jujulipps gleefully embracing the spoilt, materialistic mean girl stereotype for which Hillary is known. She wears the influence of Nicki Minaj, Rico Nasty and Leikeli47 on her sleeves and, over a simple piano loop and some booming 808s, it’s her hyper-animated delivery – warping her voice into weird, cartoonish inflections, then exploding with ferocity in the next breath – that makes the track shine. She strikes a remarkable balance of sounding completely unhinged and in total control, manically repeating the titular character’s name, belting out “Jeep Wraaangleeer!” at one point, and reinforcing her specific, simple demands (“I want fur and 8-inch heels/I want a n***a that can pay these bills”) with a commanding flow.
The only other material she has out right now is her collaboration with Freddy Reynold, an exhilarating banger where her animated presence shines over energetic arpeggiators and wailing synths. With more music hopefully on the way, it’s very easy to picture Jujulipps blossoming into a bad-bitch superstar.
Follow Jujulpps here for more.
Hamza is DIY to the core – producing, mixing, mastering and putting his talents with a can, paintbrush or pencil on display in his visuals – has no bad songs and sounds like no one else. Hailing from Liverpool, he’s making a name for himself for his concise, punchy bars, his strong and sincere personality and keen ear for beats and samples. After a relatively quiet but nonetheless impactful 2020 that saw the release of two quality singles ‘Scarface’ and ‘OG + Guava’, he released his biggest project to date in April of this year. On the ‘Conference of the Birds’ EP, Hamza infuses his cultural heritage into his distinctly Western Sydney raps, presenting the experience of a modest weed dealer through the lens of his relationship with Islam.
Rather than spitting clear narratives, Hamza fills out his raps with little details – like the Hot Star fried chicken in his hand, his Calvin undies and the bong in his car’s cupholder – that create a full, recurring picture of a never-ending paper-chase. The opener ‘Grub’ strips back the drill formula into a sparse, lo-fi beat that feels more like some grimy boom-bap than it does drill. The most explosive round in the clip, ‘Section 10’, is saved for last. With a beat that feels like it’s on a path of destruction, it’s a song made to set off mosh pits and is the best showcase of Hamza’s fiery delivery and his growing arsenal of dope, signature ad-libs.
Follow Hamza here for more.