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Huskii: The Gatekeeper’s Antihero

Throughout adversity, the NSW rapper has accumulated a cult following via his dark, introspective raps. With a new album of music and plans to take over, he’s telling it how it is.

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“I feel like Darcy Dugan in the old days” is the first bar you hear on Huskii’s new album. Propelled by the grimy sounds of Tasker’s production, it sets the tone for where the NSW rapper is bringing us on his journey. While Dugan was an ambitious robber, Huskii was in the streets, fighting adversity and living life the only way available at the time. It’s clear, that harnessed the title of Antihero.

According to Wikipedia, an antihero is someone who “lacks conventional heroic qualities.” Huskii embodies this, with his upfront honesty, and lack of fear when it comes to telling it how it is. Throughout the 7 songs on the album, he goes into great detail about his past life, weaving in introspective thoughts about his tumultuous past into fiery soliloquies. The themes are dark and confronting, while the music is challenging, with flourishes of stoop-sitting boom-bap and obscure psychedelia spiral in the production. Nothing here is a conventional example of heroism, yet Huskii remains a place of solitude for a cult-following of pundits looking for something unapologetically different. When Darcy Dugan was released from prison in the 80s, he became an advocate for prison reform, exposing corruption anywhere he could. Since Huskii’s been out, he’s been fixated on taking over the scene and rapping that real shit. 

Throughout my interview with Huskii, we discussed the creation of Antihero, reconnecting with his younger brother, and the presence of gatekeepers in the Australian music industry.

Congratulations on the album, man. How are you feeling about the release?
Feeling speedy, feeling needy, feeling greedy. I’m just ready to take it all. 

You’ve described this project as the last piece of the puzzle stylistically. What was the process like completing the jigsaw of your artistry?
You’re probably not going to expect this answer, but I wrote it all in a day. I know people say shit like this all the time and it’s not very believable, but I’ve been in and out of jail for the last 2 years, while also having writer’s block. I realised I had no creativity in that environment, and when I got out, it all came out of me in a day. I sat there for 24 hours, maybe even longer, writing, starving myself, because where I come from being comfortable is not comforting for me. I’ve never had a 3 bedroom home, with a spare bedroom and a wardrobe, I’ve never done that shit. Coming out of jail to that made me feel as if I had to change my whole style, but it didn’t feel natural. So, I just did my own thing, and it all came out naturally. 

What I love about the project is that exists in a sound of its own. It bangs, but it’s not trap. It’s grimy, but it’s not boom-bap. Where did you find the inspiration to pursue this style?
I’m a very fucking dark person, you know what I mean? I don’t even listen to hip-hop that much. Like, my favourite Eminem song is ‘The Way I Am’, that’s how I am as a person. I got a lot of inspiration for this project from old Australian shit like Trem, but I also didn’t want to sound like that. He’s just, and no offence to anyone, the only Aussie artist I really fuck with and think is world-class. His music stands up to the best of New York rappers, and I want to do the same. But even with that, I just couldn’t rewind and start using old beats. So, even though I don’t really like them, I listened to people like Playboi Carti and thought “Mixing the production they use with the older shit has never been done before.” And then Tasker, the producer that I worked with, can really do anything. So once I figured out the formula, it was on. 

The theme of an Antihero is very interesting to me. When embodying this character, what do you think your superpowers are?
Being able to fucking survive things, man. That’s the reason I’m still here. I think the Antihero thing comes from the fact that people supported me regardless of who I was. Even in high school, where I was a fucking bad kid, teachers would pull me aside and go “You’re a good person who’s had a bad upbringing, and doesn’t like authority.” I don’t know why man, but people have always been drawn to me for reasons that would normally turn you off someone. My dad and brother have that same quality as well. If I had to think of my favourite Antihero, it would be Johnny Depp in Blow, because he was a scumbag, but I felt for him. I felt bad for him even though the bad things that happen are his fault. That’s the Antihero I’m going for. I’m unconventionally looked up to. 

That idea alludes to a bar on ‘Heroin Rap’, where you rap “Done shit I wish I didn’t have to, but would never take back.” How do you think your past adversity has helped shape the person you are today?
I honestly don’t think I can say I wouldn’t take it all back, because it has been fucking hard. But man, I don’t know any other way. I can’t imagine what it would have been like if it wasn’t this way. I just relinked with my brother who’s 14 years old, and the last time I saw him was when he was 5 years old, getting taken away in a police car; screaming. But yeah, he’s now listening to ONEFOUR and knows who I am. He’s getting into fights and smoking pot; all the shit I was doing when I was 14. I could tell him all I want to not do this stuff, but that’s the exact advice I was given at his age. I don’t know if this shit is called destiny, but it is what it is. You can’t take shit back, you can only move forward. 

Do you think reconnecting with your brother acts as a new motivator to continue killing it in this game?
Man, I’m always going to kill it in this game. I don’t sound like anyone else, but people are starting to sound like me now. A lot of people don’t realise that my fans were young when I started, like 13, 14. I’ve been making music for 5 years now, so I’m an inspiration for a lot of these people. Who else is the GOAT around here? I don’t see anyone else sounding like Kerser. I love Kerser, but no one’s copying him or making techno songs jumping around on stage. He’s the one that can do that, he’s the master of that shit. He’s GOATED as a performer, with the way he controls the crowd. But when it comes to inspiring the youth and people telling their stories, I’ve been that dude, and I don’t care about being humble anymore. No one gave me my props when I needed them. When I was in jail, on my ass, nobody gave a fuck. Now, it’s my time to take over. 

Do you feel like, with all your work over the past 5 years, you’re able to approach your music with a veteran mindset?
I fucking hate the term veteran bro, it makes me feel old as hell [Laughs]. 

Young veteran, of course!
I just feel like every project has to be perfect. That’s why I haven’t released that much music and my fans are always dirty on me for that. But when the music comes, they’re happy, because every project I do is different. I don’t even like the music on Antihero anymore. The stuff I’m doing next is completely different, because I’m going through this weird stage of life. I just had my Instagram deleted at 100,000 followers, so I’m not getting the love usually get. I don’t look at Youtube, Spotify, or anything, I’m just releasing my music. I’m not really feeling the love, even though everyone is telling me how good the music is. It used to be 100,000 people telling me, now it’s like 10,000. The internet is a shit place bro, I hate it.

There does seem to be a corporate aspect in the Australian music scene today. As someone who came up in an organic, grassroots way, is it disheartening?
It is bro, that’s why with the Antihero tour, I didn’t get the homies like Shadow or Chillinit, people that would sell loads of tickets. Instead, I got Isaac Puriele and Mic Pompei who, and no offence, aren’t selling tickets right now. They’re sick musicians, but they haven’t got the props they deserve yet. Hopefully, the tour helps them, to the point where I can be the fucking gatekeeper and let them in. These dudes are weapons, bro. Mic Pompei is one of the best rappers I’ve heard in Australia, and Isaac is one of the best artists I’ve heard in Australia. I put them on tour because I don’t care about selling tickets. I will sell tickets, I’m a fucking GOAT. I just want people to hear their music because I know they’ll fuck with it. 

Do you see a future in Australian music where a co-sign from someone like you, is viewed more importantly than a Spotify playlist or an ARIA award?
I would definitely like that. There’s gotta be a better way. If you’re not one of these weird dudes who makes a song about being an Astronaut or whatever, who gives a fuck about an ARIA award? The Kid Laroi isn’t an Aussie artist anymore, he’s just a hectic musician now; he’s out of here. Is he going to give someone a cosign in Australia and get them anywhere? I don’t see it happening. I don’t see him shouting out Mason Dane or Creed Tha Kid, the cunts that come up and he competed with. What’s he done for Australia? I love his music bro, but I just tell it how it is. 

In terms of the scene moving to a place one day where success is determined outside the power of an office building, how do you tell if someone is authentic, or just simply leeching? Right now, I could see a lot of disingenuous people trying to thrive off an artist like Babyface Mal, simply because he’s skyrocketing.
Yeah, he’s a weapon as well. A big force. I did a song with him, and he went “Maybe I’ll put it out in November [Laughs]. The thing is, Chillinit and I if we put money together, we’d have a million, 2 million. Maybe that’s the way. But, man, Chillinit is such a mogul that it’s almost corny, he’s got it down to a science. 

Do you think you’re someone who would want to start a label one day to help with these issues?
I would, but if I did it myself, it wouldn’t be as successful as these gatekeepers. They’d shut down shows, not letting people in. I’d probably hinder an artist more than I’d help them. But if someone like Chillinit or ONEFOUR did it, it could help. If ONEFOUR came out with a label and signed kids from Western Sydney, I could see that working. If I did it, it would be a full-blown antihero, just causing a muck and shit. 

Do you feel like you’re the Antihero to the gatekeepers?
100%. I always have been. This is the thing, all these gatekeepers have had meetings with me and tried to sign me, but I’m a liability. Why do you think they went with someone like Nerve? He’s not going to smash up a hotel room or bash cunts in a crowd. It’s a good choice to go with, safe bet. I also hope they don’t think I’m throwing shade either because I love these guys. They’re great musicians, who are making great stuff and stick to what they do. I’m just a fan of music and I speak my heart. 

I heard you speaking on Spanian’s podcast about the weight of influence. I feel, often with hip-hop, media outlets will often pin the accusation of glorification on an artist, when they’re really just telling their stories of struggle. How do you deal with the pressure of being an inspiration?
For a while, it was hard because I was on drugs. I was giving advice, but not taking it myself. That’s where people thought it was glorification. I was saying “Fuck drugs,” but the young fans were wanting to do what I was doing. I’ve had a few chats with people about this, where I was going to stop mentioning drugs in my music overall, but then I just decided that I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. It’s different now though because I feel like a grown man, and I think I’m telling the stories in a better way. 

Just lastly my friend, what do you have on the horizon after the Antihero era?
I got a lot of blues, jazz type stuff coming. It’s more natural because we’re using real instruments in most of my upcoming songs. I’m always going to be rapping the real shit, but I don’t really know where we are going with it. I don’t think people are going to know when they hear it either.

Follow Huskii here for more and stream the new album Antihero here.

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