Australian hip-hop is often associated with many cynical typecasts, including bogan and degenerate culture. But in recent times Australian hip-hop has developed dramatically, and now many sub-genres exist. The Hilltop Hoods are well known throughout the country as is Drapht, Illy and Seth Sentry as a result of consistent radio airplay.
The likes of Justice, Prime, Purpose and Greely have established themselves as master emcees on the international battle rap scene. Solo from Horrorshow has become a renowned wordsmith who has proved he can not only rap but also produce tear-jerking spoken word poetry.And Chance Waters, formally Phatchance, exhibits his musical talents by performing live shows with an acoustic band.
Australian hip-hop is no longer generic 808 kick drums and lyrics about which crew is better than who – it’s a talented art form that appeals to all Australian walks of life. The diversity of Australian hip-hop has almost developed systematically with the changing multicultural Australian society.Melbourne rapper Sukhdeep Singh is a prime example of this.
"Artists all over the world, particularly in hip-hop, are struggling to be distinct from one another."
Singh, 25, better known by his stage name L-FRESH The LION has gained a following in the Australian hip-hop scene on the back of supporting renowned international acts KRS-One and Public Enemy.A devote Sikh, Singh’s music deals with topics from racism to politics but he says he does not intend to influence listeners opinions when he begins his writing process.
“I don’t deliberately write music to convey a certain message,” Singh explains,“in this day and age inspiring music is so few and far between, so I feel like I can fill that gap.
“I want to try and recreate the type of music that inspired me when I was younger and was really drawn to hip-hop music."
Singh talks about how Australian hip-hop had always battled a negative stigma, which questions the genre’s legitimacy by associating it with anti-social behaviour.Rappers like Singh are shedding a new light on this view with their engaging and topical music which has started to expand the genre.
Like his music, Singh’s religion and Indian heritage does not fit the stereotypes of an Australian hip-hop artist, something he believes has benefited his music career so far. “My diversity really helps me stand out from the crowd,” Singh says,“artists all over the world, particularly in hip-hop, are struggling to be distinct from one another.
“What can sometimes be seen as a challenge in trying to overcome an industry that is yet to see someone of your physical appearance can also be seen as a real advantage.”
Since the release of his debut album One, Singh has become a voice for the Victorian Sikh community, appearing on many different radio and television programs. When not in the studio, Singh conducts educational music writing and poetry programs for youths interested in hip-hop.
He says his recent rise to prominence and newly found role as a within not only the Sikh community but also the hip-hop community is something he has welcomed, “No matter what I do, inadvertently I am going to be a representative of the Sikh community and that’s something I’ve had to embrace”.