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9 Artists From The Queensland Scene You Need To Be Across

Exciting things are happening up North! We delve into 9 Queensland artists we've got our eye on right now.

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The geography of Queensland has been a mystery for many in years gone by. While Bob Katter might pop up in the news every now and then to remind people of the dangers of water-based animals/killing machines, the state is often forgotten in musical conversations, remaining in third place behind fellow East Coast states Victoria and New South Wales. When artists from Queensland have made a name for themselves on a national/international stage, they’ve primarily been rock bands like Regurgitator, Powderfinger and The Go-Betweens. 

In recent years, however, hip-hop has helped showcase the various regions of Queensland, and the talent that lies within each part of the Sunshine State. Suburbs like Goodna and Logan have been put on the map by Lisi and No Money Enterprise respectively, and Queensland is fast-becoming one of the most-hyped musical hubs in Australia – for good reason. Organisations like No.One Network, Atlas Studio and Creative Ave are giving back to the community in a variety of ways, helping to empower anyone and everyone that wants to make music. 

To get a better sense of what makes the Queensland hip-hop scene unique, Acclaim reached out to one of the central figures of Queensland rap, Sachém. The Indigenous and African American MC hails from Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island), and has worked with the likes of Tom Thum on the collaborative ‘Glitter & Gold’ EP and S.A.B on the powerful ‘Black Noise’. He’s someone that’s embedded in the DNA of the Queensland scene, working closely with both OGs and newcomers alike. Speaking about what makes the Queensland scene great, Sachém is keen to pay homage to those that have paved the way. He explains, “In Queensland, hip-hop has always been a diverse and influential part of our culture, setting a standard for the entire country. 

“What sets Queensland hip-hop apart is the authentic relationships that exist between the five disciplines of hip-hop: emcees, breakers, graff writers, deejays, and beatboxers.” He says that “intentional spaces have always been created for these relationships to exist”, referencing the likes of “750 Rebels, The Optimen, Resin Dogs, Lazy Grey and B-Boy Allstars”. He also gave Acclaim a bit of a history lesson on some of the key players in Queensland’s hip-hop history, as well as highlighting the relationships between emerging artists and those at the top of the food chain. “While it’s important to acknowledge the big streaming rappers who have helped push our sound nationally and internationally, it’s equally important to recognize the vital role played by the underground and the OGs.

“Individuals and crews have been instrumental in building our ecosystem, people such as MasterWolf, who has hosted weekly Freestyle Friday events in Brisbane for over a decade, DCP (Aka Blak Douglas), who ensures that the younger generation are supported by the OGs and pushes us to represent just as they did, and BGirl Flix, the owner of Elements Collective, a dance company/crew in the heart of the city that has supported so many individuals and events for over a decade.

“I use the term “ecosystem” intentionally because that’s exactly what our community is. Just like in nature, there are no big sharks without the krill, but sharks are the guardians of the delicate balance. Similarly, our hip-hop community in Queensland is made up of many different individuals and groups, each playing their role in maintaining a thriving ecosystem.” However, he wants more chances for different aspects of the industry to come together, saying, “What I would love to see is more support and spaces where individuals from all levels of the industry can exist together in a completely normative way. It would be great to have more opportunities for established artists to share space with up-and-comers, regardless of their level of success or experience. By breaking down these barriers and creating more inclusive spaces, we can continue to build.”

His thoughts are echoed by Unamii, who’s made a name for herself off the back of tracks like ‘Bars From Unamii’, ‘Showtime’ alongside Dau Dau and her blistering feature on PANIA’s ‘LETHIM4ALL’. Unamii also highlighted the varied sounds coming out of Brisbane, saying, “Being from Brisbane, being true to yourself and your style is the only way you’re going to stand out! On the other side of it we are a small city compared to the rest of Australia so our strengths are really that we are all different from each other. There isn’t just one sound coming out of Brisbane.” However, she wants artists from the Sunshine State to focus more, citing a lack of regular releases as something that holds them back. “I’d like to see people being more consistent and pushing out the music, I don’t think people realise the untapped talent here.”

To get you up to speed with some of the faces you need to know in the Queensland hip-hop scene, we’ve run our eye over the different musical pockets that make up Queensland. Part of the charm of the Queensland rap scene is that there are a range of different sounds coming out of the city, so whatever styles you prefer, you’ll find an artist or two on this list that’s going to go straight into your regular rotation. 

01. Sachém

Sachém is one of Australia’s wisest MCs. He’s an accomplished musician and spoken word poet, and his name is the title given to an elected Native American chief from the Mohegan tribe in the North East of America. Tracks like the breezy, laidback ‘Motherland’ and the spoken word piece ‘My Ancestors’ pay tribute to those that have come before him: on ‘My Ancestors’, Sachém says “I realise that each rhyme and each poem that I write isn’t mine/they belong to the sovereign and free/my ancestors”, drawing a throughline from his achievements and struggles to the wisdom that’s been passed down through generations to him. Listening to Sachém is a lesson: a lesson about self, and a lesson about the impacts that we can have on the world around us.

Sachém brought together his love for both music and poetry during ‘The Bigger Picture’, a show that brought together elements of dance, film and visual projection, all with the help of the award-winning Matt Hsu’s Obscure Orchestra. Speaking about the show, he explains, “The Bigger Picture has been everything for me over the last 5 years. Releasing my debut EP ‘Part of the Picture’ and having the ‘Bigger Picture’ in the works, It’s been an organic deep dive into my life as an Indigenous & African American fulla. To me, the organic nature of my expression highlights its importance.

“The fact that I’ve never had to ‘try’ be hip hop, never had to ‘try’ get rid of the fake American accent, nor have I been ‘influenced’ or ‘connected’ to hip hop. It is me; I am a descendant of the culture. With real ties to the ground level hip hop at its source, also having a godfather who is a godfather of hip hop, the late & great Shock G. It’s a relationship to the culture I was born in to, creating the perpetual state of self-expression and self-creation through hip hop. The Bigger Picture is where I’m at now and I’m about ready to close the ‘Picture Book’ chapter of life.” When Sachém speaks, listen.

Follow Sachém here for more.

02. Jesswar

Jesswar’s been dropping heat for a while now, but 2021’s ‘TROPIXX’ EP really put them on the map. The 6-track project is full of heat, and, much like the title of track 5, it’s also full of ‘Venom’. 2022 mixtape ‘LIFE’S SHORT, LIVE BIG’ extends on the sounds and messages of ‘TROPIXX’, featuring the love-drenched ‘FELL IN LOVE’ and the brooding ‘SWEET’, which contains a sugary hook from Gold Coast singer DVNA. There are more layers to Jesswar’s music on ‘LIFE’S SHORT’ LIVE BIG’, which makes it all the more entrancing.

Project highlight ‘Bad Like Riri’ is a bass-heavy ode to Rihanna (if anyone wants to write a song about Acclaim, that would be great), and it features a blistering appearance from Texan MC Erica Banks. It also samples one of Rihanna’s many memorable public appearances: a 2013 “conversation” with paparazzi that features the endlessly-quotable “free tickets deez nuts”. Well said.

Follow Jesswar here for more.

03. Unamii

Unamii’s only got a handful of tracks to her name, but every Unamii verse’s left a serious impression. On 2021’s Mansus and Hugh Lake-produced ‘Bars from Unamii’ (a release of her Red Bull 64 Bars session), she declares “it’s my season bitch”. While that hasn’t come to fruition quite yet, her appearances on both Swish Music tracks and PANIA’s ‘LETHIM4ALL’ have kept fans (somewhat) happy – though we’re all hankering for more fire from the Brisbane MC.

Thankfully, it seems like Unamii’s getting ready to be a lot more active in 2023. Speaking to Acclaim, she revealed, “I plan on releasing different sounds of music that I loved creating over the last year. I hope with every release people get to know me as an artist more and really know what I’m capable of!” Stay tuned for more from Unamii in 2023: we’re tipping she’s going to have a big year.

Follow Unamii here for more.

04. No Money Enterprise

Hailing from Logan, No Money Enterprise make some of the most fun hip-hop to come out of Australia in a long, long time. Comprising of Rndy Svge, Tommy OT & Ha’i Braa, tracks like ‘German’ and ‘No Reason’ put NME on the map, thanks to their ability to bounce off each other like they were rebounding off a trampoline.

It also doesn’t hurt that they put their whole chest into punchlines like “Call me Tony and I’ll Stark a bloke/’Cause I’m Iron Man, no Marvel”. More recent singles like ‘Mamacita’ and ‘STC’ maintain this sense of fun – it’s drill, but with a twist. Adding a bit of brass to the track has become a calling card for NME, and for good reason. To be fair, it’s hard to think of many things that don’t get better when you add a trumpet or sax into the mix.

Follow No Money Enterprise here for more.

05. Khi’leb

Highlighted as one of the rappers to watch by Sachém, Khi’leb’s built a name for himself in Brisbane – the next step is the world. His recent project, ‘Project in the Suburbs (Deluxe)’ (which builds on the EP released in September 2022) showcases his enviable range, all tied together by his urgent, captivating flow. Khi’leb’s able to hook in a listener within a couple of bars, before building out sprawling worlds full of vivid details.

‘Project in the Suburbs (Deluxe)’ features the Creed Tha Kid-assisted ‘Cheques’, which is a money-making anthem, while opening track ‘Deadbeat’ features haunting production and a tale of an artist that NEEDS to make music. Khi’leb’s discography conveys a sense that he needs to express himself through the words he puts to paper, a compulsion that the best artists all share. Tap in.

Follow Khi’leb here for more.

06. Safety Club

There’s a sense of cheekiness present within Safety Club’s music, and it’s infectious. Take the recent single ‘Ooh La La!’ as an example. Vocalist Ronnie Sinclair and producer Shan have cooked up a track that features lyrics like “I’ve had a little liquor/A bit of alcohol/Now I feel a little bigger/I got these spirits all around me/Better call a vicar”, which, in the wrong hands, could start to delve into parody. That’s not the case at all here, however. 

Instead, the track is self-aware, offering a nod and a wink while Ronnie and Shan soundtrack a night that you won’t forget (unless you’ve had a bit too much). They’ve only released a few singles so far, like the bouncy ‘WINDOWS XP’, but each track will follow your thoughts around – and before you know it, your brain has been taken over, with all your memories and knowledge replaced by Ronnie Sinclair’s punchlines. Consider this a warning.

Follow Safety Club here for more.

07. Erik Sanders

Erik Sanders really, really wants to get ‘Back 2 Brissy’ – or at least, that’s what he claims on his latest single, released at the tail-end of 2022, rapping “I just got back from the mission/Had to get back to Brissy”. Home is where the heart is, after all. The track’s pounding drums and hypnotic synths give space for Erik’s vocals to cut through, and they do. Fans of rage/trap will dig ‘Back 2 Brissy’.

Erik’s an artist that’s been around for a while now, first dropping back in 2015 with the menacing ‘Stunt’. The track’s skeletal production is at odds with the beats found on his 2021 project ‘Breathe’ (which features a verse from Creed Tha Kid on ‘Our Song’), but ‘Stunt’ is a good example of Erik’s progression, in terms of both vocals and beat selection. He’s clearly someone that’s able to balance embracing the trends in hip-hop with staying true to his own artistry – which makes diving back through his releases to date a good chance to witness his evolution play out over a few tracks.

Follow Erik Sanders here for more.

08. Kedus

Kedus is one of the smoothest movers in Australian music. In 2022, he jumped on a remix of Pheelz and BNXN’s ‘Finesse’ alongside PANIA, an anthemic track that’ll put a smile on even the most stone-faced of characters. I challenge anyone not to feel lighter when you’re listening to Kedus. I am a two-left-footed individual, but even I find myself swaying along to his music.

His recent EP, ‘Moments in the Blur’, will scratch your R&B-related itch – it’s a collection of tracks designed to elevate and accompany the most emotional moments in your life. Ballroom Bop’ is a passionate, guitar-led track about locking eyes with someone on the dancefloor, while the twinkling ‘The Little Things’ shows off Kedus’ vocal versatility. Frank Ocean’s seemingly too busy releasing $25,000 cock rings to jump in the booth for a sustained period of time (we’re not here to kink shame, but that seems like a lot), and Kedus’ soft yet passionate voice is reminiscent of the generational crooner.

Follow Kedus here for more.

09. Moneyboyzforever

Moneyboyzforever caught my attention off the back of one of the most successful music-related ads I’ve ever seen. The group is made up of MBE Fresco, MBE Monty, MBE Trey and 30sidelouie, and they’re originally from Heidelberg West in Victoria. However, they now reside in Southside Brisbane, making them eligible for this list. The group wormed their way into the brains of many Australian music fans with their track ‘Hood Baby’, which features the unforgettable line “Excuse moi/She wanna fuck with the stars”. I haven’t been able to get MBE Fresco’s voice out of my head – it haunts me like a sleep paralysis demon, in the best way possible. 

The group’s most recent release, ‘Love Me Better’, is another collaboration with New York’s RondoSP – the two artists previously worked together on Moneyboyzforever’s 2021 single ‘Hard Times’ . Like ‘Hood Baby’, ‘Love Me Better’ features the autotuned croon of MBE Fresco as he laments the demise of a past relationship. On socials, MBE Fresco and RondoSP have teased an upcoming tape, so it looks like there’s more music on the way for the group in 2023.

Follow Moneyboyzforever here for more.