Words by Keane Fletcher
For a long time Australian hip-hop was a bit...meh. Unlike the US, the country from which the genre is long thought to have originated, Australian hip-hop artists were often looked at as facsimiles, copy-cats, lacking the cultural legacy and risk-taking nature that characterised many of the genre's best artists.
However, the last few years have seen an unusual turnaround for the genre. Foregoing the typical braggadocio and exaggerated swagger, the new wave of Australian hip-hop (a lot of it coming out of Queensland) has begun to turn inward, allowing artists to reflect on such seemingly un-cool topics as trauma, anxiety, and depression. And the scene is better for it. Case in point Brisbane-based hip-hop artist ACIZM's latest track 'Medicated', an accessible and surprisingly astute look at the dark side of the pharmaceutical industry.
Taking its influence from the Eminem/Slim Shady era (indeed, the song even opens with a trill of early-2000's Spanish guitar), the C-Lance produced track is clear with its intentions from the get go, combining a clear and precise point-of-view with a kind of easy off-the-cuff rapping style that makes good use of ACIZM's intelligent and well-structured lyrics. It's quite amazing really, to hear someone name dropping anti-psychotics and ruminating on the chicken-or-the-egg nature of chemical dependence while barely breaking a sweat. I only wish I had a full Genius breakdown of his lyrics so I could catch all the little nuggets of wisdom that he drops; indeed, the song is peppered with them, barely leaving him enough time to breathe before he spits out a line like:
'Is this psychosis the product of all the walls I'm in/ or all the wars I’ve been in before?'
Production-wise the song doesn't exactly offer anything new, but that's almost beside the point. Boston-based producer C-Lance understands what he's showcasing; his handling of the track is smart in the way that it allows ACIZM and his lyrics to shine without watering them down with over-the-top production values.
Philosophically, the song also raises some interesting points about the nature of medication. Why is it that we prescribe one drug and criminalise another? How does dependence read differently if the drugs are prescribed? And how useful are prescriptions at regulating our emotions if they simply stop us from feeling anything at all?
All in all a fantastic addition to the new wave of Australian hip-hop, and an exciting glimpse of what we can expect from ACIZM's forthcoming album Lost in Reality (dropping Dec 26th).
Thanks for stopping by Hipland!