While listening to Australian—or Aussie—rapper Reflekt’s song, “Bullshit Poetry,” on YouTube, I scrolled down the comment section and come across a hater saying that Aussie hip hop is “too emotional” and not nearly raw enough. Of course, like any YouTube comment debate, there were counter comments from listeners who advised the hater to check out some other artists who were indeed rawer than the American artists the hater was likely accustomed to.
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Well, I did just that and came across another Aussie rapper, Trips, and listened to his song, “Raw and Uncut.” Definitely different from the mellower and appropriately named reflection that Reflekt brought, Trips spit with a dragon ball-like fire, scorching the beat as well as my ears. Interestingly, though, like with Reflekt, I felt the emotion from Trips too.
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Emotion is a tricky word, particularly in hip hop. What someone really seems to mean when they say that a rapper is “too emotional,” is that the rapper is soft, not tough, not manly enough to be in the game. I had this conversation with a cousin of mine a few months ago. We were talking about Canadian rapper Drake and she insisted he was “too emotional.” I understood what she meant because, yes, he does tend to rap—OD—about loving and missing females, content that has historically not been acceptable in the genre.
However, emotion is far more than feeling sad or having a sense of longing. Emotion can be anger, it can be happiness, it can be represented as hope. To some extent, I believe, all artists need to feel and express some type of emotion as a way to connect to their audience. Without that emotion, the art is dead, not even art at all really. It needs poetry.
So, in my opinion, it is a very good thing for Aussie hip hop to be considered emotional, whether that is experienced through Reflekt’s voicing his inner journey or Trips exhibiting rage at the world. All of this is good and needed.
Another Aussie rapper, Claz, brings a perfect blend of emotional reflection and frustration. His songs tend to be about smoking marijuana, females who hurt him, and the fight he has within himself. He actually indirectly talks about the fluctuation of emotion in his song, “Heart,” saying in his chorus that his heart beats so strong, keeps him going; then, in his second verse, he seems to contradict himself, mentioning that his heart is probably somewhere in a lost and found and he feels so low, so empty.
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The only bone I have to pick with Claz is actually the way he doesn’t show much emotion in his face when he spits. For someone whose videos display close ups of his face in nearly every frame, along with his spitting lyrics that touch on his feelings, it seems a bit off that his face shows the same, almost blank, always serious stare all the time. Even Drake lets his face change with the appropriate lyrics.
But aside from my critique of more underground Aussie rappers, I would probably be remised if I did not mention Iggy Azalea, an Aussie female rapper who has made her way into the mainstream US hip hop scene. Definitely rapping with emotion and letting her face show it, she spits in her song “Work” about her experiences as an immigrant, working jobs that no one else
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Aussie rappers are definitely all poetry. No bullshit.