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“Not everyone can digest the content, but most people respect the authenticity”: OneFour manager talks drill music's surprise streaming success
By Jon Chapple on 03 Oct 2019
OneFour, ‘Australia’s first drill rappers’, were the fastest-growing new artists online last month, in a Radar Station first for the controversial UK-born hip-hop scene.
The band, from Mt Druitt in western Sydney, have been hailed by Vice as “Australia’s most exciting rappers” – but have been subject to similar harassment and censorship as that faced by drill acts in the US and UK, with authorities accusing their songs of promoting violent crime.
The group’s latest single, ‘Ladz in the Hood’, released on Monday 2 September, racked up 400,000 views in the space of 24 hours and become the top trending video on YouTube, leading GQ to describe them as the “biggest thing in hip hop right now”.
Spurred by this success, OneFour climbed from No4 in July to the top spot in August, according to the latest Radar Station figures, knocking Coi Leray to number two. A new entry, Kosovar DJ Regard, takes the third spot.
The Radar Station algorithm calculates the fastest-growing new artists by combining data across a number of online platforms, including Spotify, Facebook, Instagram, Songkick and Last.fm. August’s chart-topper was September’s runner-up, Paradigm-repped Coi Leray.
“People are drawn to the feeling it creates. The raw emotion and honesty”
Speaking to IQ, OneFour’s manager, Ricky Simandjuntak, says the band’s global popularity is testament to their ability to speak to a forgotten underclass looked down on by the ‘establishment’:
IQ: What do you think it is about OneFour’s message and music that appeals to so many people – many of whom are drawn from outside the band’s culture and circumstances?
RS: People are drawn to the feeling it creates. The raw emotion and honesty. From the words to the visuals, everything is honest – even if you don’t know anything about that world, the music allows you to feel it all.
Not everyone can digest the content, but most people respect the authenticity. There is a story of overcoming extreme danger and adversity that people are drawn to.
For those who are from the culture, youth here in western Sydney and wider urban Australia are happy that there is finally a group of artists that represent urban, multicultural, working-class people in Australia at a world-class level. They’ve been waiting for a hero to champion.
IQ: As a manager, could you describe your strategy for growing the band’s profile and career so far?
RS: There wasn’t one. The only thing the boys knew how to do was tell their truth, using their own style of storytelling and delivery. The influences are obvious, but they remained true to themselves in the delivery. All Hau [Latukefu, Triple J host], [producer] Solo and I did was provide them the right environment and tools to make the music. The creativity and emotion is all them.
They directed produced their own videos with their own team, they marketed themselves. They spoke to an audience that is going what they go through. We have had minimal involvement up until this point.
“There is finally a group of artists that represent urban, multicultural, working-class people in Australia at a world-class level. They’ve been waiting for a hero to champion”
IQ: What kind of challenges have you faced so far, especially around censorship and hostility from the establishment?
RS: The ‘establishment’ in Australia is still very close-minded and out of touch with young people and people of colour. You only need to look at how they treat the indigenous owners of this country to understand how their fear of immigrant Australians.
The music raises conversation that a lot of people in positions of privilege and authority do not know how to address. So their immediate reaction is damage control and censorship. This includes pressuring venues, promoters, DSPs, schools and nonprofit organisations the boys visit, hotels, licensed venues and the press not to do business with the group. Essentially, they are going out of their way to limit the ability of the group to work and generate income – while in the same breath telling them to get off the streets.
Mainstream media, the news channels and newspapers like the [Australian] Daily Telegraph are only interested in publishing stories that incite fear into the community. These platforms push a narrative for the establishment, not for the good of the people. Fortunately for us, they are platforms that are heading toward extinction.
IQ: Do the band have a live agent or record label, or is it still very early days on that front?
RS: Still very much independent and looking to remain this way until they learn some more.
OneFour recently started to work with Brett Murrihy at WME for live. So if you have work, he is our man.
OneFour climbed from No4 in July to the top spot in August, knocking Coi Leray to No2. A new entry, Kosovar DJ Regard, takes the third spot
IQ: How do you intend to capitalise on this streaming success?
RS: It’s giving us the opportunity to surround ourselves with more experienced people and learn from them. It’s giving us access to better data and people who understand how to interpret it.
To answer your question – we get better at growing.
IQ: Where do OneFour go from here?
RS: It’s early days and there are so many paths to success. Like I said, we are still learning. Artistically, for OneFour the UK has provided so much inspiration, so it’s definitely a goal to learn from and work with artists like Skepta, Giggs, Wiley, Headie One and J Hus to name a few. For me personally, getting the music so good that it’s on the radar of someone like [BBC DJ] Benji B is immense.
Business-wise and culturally, Jay-Z blazed the path that inspired me. To help OneFour create opportunities for people in the fashion that he did – but for Australian youth. That’s the dream.
See below for a Spotify playlist of last month’s Radar Station top 20, plus the full chart with links to artists’ Facebook pages and contact details.
|Sueco the Child
|Benny the Butcher
For more details about the Radar Station, contact [email protected].
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