Title: Music-Life-Pain EP
Artist: The Havknotz
Released: 21 January 2011
In one word: Mulekicker
I’ve been accused once or twice in my life of suffering from something of a “culture cringe” when it comes to Australian accents…and while the friend I’m thinking of refers mostly herein to my (perhaps unfair) prejudice towards Australian film, the same is also true when it comes to the subject of Australian hip-hop. Somehow the thick, drawling tones of suburban “Aussie” blokes have never quite worked for me in a rap music context…so it’s with great relief that I put on this EP to find a world-class product which should, saints willing, find an audience well beyond the limited confines of the “barby”-lovin’ antipodean backyard.
Not only does the MC they call Losty rap it up with the best of ’em, in an accent which is refreshingly roots-free, he’s found himself a partner-in-crime called Waza (gotta love them loopy hip-hop names) who knows that the funkiest beats ain’t shit without groovy-as-fuck basslines to back ’em up. Oh, and he contributes some rather nice (read: melodic) guitar and piano work too, proving himself quite the multi-instrumentalist in the space of the mere seven tracks on offer here.
With a bit of help from esteemed artists such as Midnight Oil drummer Rob Hirst, the sound the duo realises here is a neat consolidation between the older and newer “schools” of hip-hop, and a heavy dose of rock and metal stylings thrown into the mix does no harm either: “Shock To The System”, for instance, giving firm nods of the head to both Rage Against The Machine and Fear Factory, with a result so effective one can pretty much forgive them for nicking a bit of the latter’s lyrical content in the bargain (and their suggestion to “blow up the Big Brother house” is surely a sentiment any reasonable listener can get behind)!
And yeah, okay, maybe the EP does go out on a bit of a bum note thanks to some of those aforementioned “drawl”-y Aussie hip-hoppers guesting on the final track, but on the whole this is a record which represents the best which the rap-rock hybrid has to offer: It’s catchy, confident and kicks ass like a Mexican bandito who won’t take “slow” for an answer from his lazy mule. With a bit of luck the future of Australian hip-hop may sound a bit more like this, and a bit LESS like Hilltop Hoods and their slack-jawed, ocker-ish ilk. Word up, mofos.
© Michael Bowser, Music Vice
The Havknotz: Myspace