SETH AT HIS BEST
To a degree the past defines Seth Sentry and through his songs he relives and shares the good and bad with self-deprecating humour
Seth Sentry, 31, misses the mischief of his stoner youth; the days when his mates had their own rap circle and battled each other to deliver the best rhymes.
He revisits those days in Run, the lead single from his second album Strange New Past.
“You reach this characterdefining age and start reflecting and looking at your past and how that made you,” he says.
“Run is all real, but it’s also me being, ‘Oh my mum is going to hear this’. I was a bad kid. So I definitely held back. But then on the last song, Sorry, I admit to a bunch of stuff – breaking into a house when I was a kid ...
“Never went to jail, got arrested a bunch of times. I haven’t been arrested since the age of 18 though.”
It has been six years since Sentry made the leap from the Melbourne underground hip hop scene to Triple J’s Unearthed, then sealed his fate as Australia’s next big MC with breakthrough hit The Waitress Song.
His 2012 debut album This Was Tomorrow exemplified his style of confronting deeply personal subjects with a splash of self-deprecating humour.
Strange New Past seesaws between poignant and the fun of Dumb and Rooftop.
On centrepiece track Violin, Sentry spits out how he feels about his father abandoning the family and refusing to establish a relationship despite the grown-up rapper reaching out.
The MC, who can spend six months redrafting a song, says the process of writing Violin left him feeling destroyed.
“Doing all the rewrites kept putting me back in that place. After, it feels good. It’s like after you’ve had a cheeky cry.”
Unlike the bad boys made good of American hip-hop, Sentry has no desire for wealth and fame.
He shares stories of a disadvantaged childhood which would often involve camping on Mornington Peninsula beaches when the owners of the holiday homes they rented returned.
And he doesn’t measure success by chart positions or ticket sales.
Rather, Sentry lives for the competition. While he is mates with most in the tight-knit Aussie hip-hop community, Sentry is the first to admit he wants to be the best.
“There’s obviously a real team spirit because rap in this country is still pretty new,” he says. “Healthy competition is good – all pushing each other and striving to be the best.
“Even when I was younger with my friends and we were all freestyling, laughing, drinking and smoking pot – though it was all fun and laughs, I wanted to be the best.”
Sentry will at the very least be Australia’s hardest working live act this year, taking on a massive 48-date national tour to support Strange New Past.
His talisman against homesickness will be his Xbox.
“With the death of music sales, you have to tour. I got a big kick when a band would make the effort to come out to my little town. The Living End came to Rosebud and they were the first live band I had ever seen. It was sick.
“But I am not a travelling man. I’m very domestic. I like my bed, my things, my cave. I want stability so bad. The thought of roaming around, with a different bed every night for five weeks, is intense for me.”
Seth Sentry, Coolangatta Hotel, Sunday
Aussie hip-hop artist Seth Sentry heads to the Gold Coast.