HILLTOP IN THE HOOD
AUSSIE HIP HOP KINGS HEAD TO THE GOLD COAST TO GET THE GC600 PARTY STARTED
Most nights Daniel Smith spent beside his eightyear-old son’s hospital bedside, he would write songs.
It was a way for the man known as MC Pressure to the legion of Hilltop Hoods fans to deal with Liam’s leukaemia as he underwent six months of chemotherapy.
You don’t hear too many songs about cancer. Through
the Dark, Smith’s hip hop narrative of his son’s illness and hopes for the future now he is in remission, could be the song to break the taboo.
His longtime band mates Matt Lambert (MC Suffa) and Barry Francis (DJ Debris) had
to talk him into singing it rather than inviting a guest to reprise his guide vocal. Then they had to convince him to put it on their seventh studio record, Walking Under Stars.
They wanted “real life” on this album.
Through the Dark, even though it has a hopeful ending, will make you cry.
Lambert says most of the people who heard the song before the record was released in August had “broken down”.
“Writing that song is one of the hardest things I have ever done,” Smith says.
“I wrote it and rewrote it and rewrote it throughout his therapy and he responded very well to the treatment, so it became a song of hope and perseverance.
“He’s good now, he’s doing normal kid s---, going to school. And there’s no sign of the cancer.’’
A Hilltop Hoods album could always be presented in the classic, old-school record format of two sides. The A side of Walking
Under Stars would have the life lesson songs – Through the Dark, The Thirst, Live and Let Go and Pyramid Building. And the B side brings the fun times with Cosby Sweater and The Art Of the Handshake and the positive affirmation with Won’t Let You Down. Cosby Sweater is a popculture history lesson for those who missed the 1980s sitcom
The Cosby Show. The star of the show, comedian Bill Cosby, sported colourful chunky knits, many of which were designed by the Australian label Coogi.
The jumpers became adopted by hip hop enthusiasts when Biggie Smalls made them part of his wardrobe.
Another shout-out to the good old days could spark a resurgence in The Art Of the
Handshake. Remember the repertoire of elaborate greeting rituals employed by the cool kids, which would go on for 20 seconds?
Suffa and Pressure do from their high school days. Now it’s all high fives. Lambert says the song was inspired by a lyric about 20-second handshakes in a song by Canadian group Notes To Self.
“I love the idea of doing a song that is so earnest about something so stupid,” Lambert says, laughing.
Walking Under Stars opens with emotive strings, a motif the Hoods have embraced since their groundbreaking 2007 album The Hard Road:
Restrung, which reimagined
TWO FINGERS TO EVERYONE COMPLAINING ABOUT THEIR FIRST-WORLD PROBLEMS. WE HAVE IT GOOD, WE HAVE IT LUCKY
their 2006 record with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.
“We’re very posh; we like strings,” Lambert explains, grinning.
Smith adds: “We love the power and emotion strings can deliver like no other instrument can.”
It seems incongruous to contemplate the Hoods as elder statesmen of Australian hip hop, but it has been 15 years since they released their debut record and more than a decade since they took the genre from the underground to the mainstream pop charts with The Nosebleed Section. Their last three albums have all hit No.1 on the ARIA chart.
The independent crew, who are respected for their creative and financial support of new artists, have maintained their position without indulging the cult of personality of hip hop’s other cliches.
“When you wake up to Israel, Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Isis, Ukraine, all that s--- in the morning, it’s like ‘Jesus Christ!’ I have a lovely house and I make music for a living,” Lambert says.
“Two fingers to everyone complaining about their firstworld problems. We have it good, we have it lucky.”
Hilltop Hoods, Thundamentals, Lil Jon and Komes, Armor All Gold Coast’s 600 Sounds, Saturday, Broadwater Parklands.
Barry Francis, Matt Lambert and Daniel Smith are Hilltop Hoods, who will be playing at the Broadwater Parklands on Saturday.