Smokey's Blog

we gonna do the damn thing or what

The Secret Playlist Behind My New Album



I compiled a bunch of music that inspired my new album, The Past Beats Inside Me Like a Second Heartbeat. Some of these songs lifted me at low points, woke me up during a lull, snapped me out of a rut, all the good things that music does that nothing else can. Enjoy.

Q-Tip – Gettin Up Classic song from a brilliant comeback record. This wasn’t about loyalty to a group I’d loved forever, but more so an incredible return to form. It inspired me to see an artist that had been around for a while, do something with such undeniable impact.

Kendrick – You Ain’t Gotta Lie Can’t front on the fearless artistry on To Pimp a Butterfly (remember when everyone was freaking about about ‘i’?). I look up at the sun and see a force so bright that I wouldn’t dream of being compared, and that’s beautiful. Let the greats shine! His vision makes me not want to settle for less in my life, and I want to do things I thought I wasn’t capable of.

Ceelo – Gettin Grown Before Ceelo became a celebrity, he did amazing shit like this.

The Coup – Wear Clean Drawers Apart from my daughter, this was the inspiration behind Little Girl’s Dad. And although it’s in honour of her, LGD is an homage to this.

Raury, Big KRIT – Forbidden Knowledge To simplify a complex web of social injustice into an easily understood song concept is a stroke of genius.

Big KRIT – Saturdays = Celebration This knocked me the f out last year. The beauty and anger and frustration thrown into disarray by loss, it’s all handled so well here. I just hear resilience. Amazing.

Mura Musa – Lovesick In the world that Hermitude and a zillion wannabes inhabit, Mura Musa stands out. Downtempo electronic music has always struck a chord with me, ever since the late 90s where it wasn’t easy getting my hands on a lot of instrumental hip hop – I went to whatever was closest.

Jarryd James – Do You Remember When songs are everywhere. I think this is a classic.

Kira Puru – All Dulled Out You know those type of songs that you hear and can’t place them? Was this a hit from some big overseas act in 2014? I had a moment like that with this song a few weeks ago. It’s brilliantly written, gorgeously sung – a screamer of a tune. One of the songs of the year.

Joelistics, Kaity Dunstan – Out of the Blue I’d say this is under-appreciated because it’s not known as widely as it should be, but to the people that have really listened to it, and seen the video, there’s no under-appreciating going on. This will outlast a lot of the fad hip hop in Australia, and it’ll be one of the songs that is played for years to come. Beautiful storytelling.

Jayteehazard, (Leone) Rivals – Seen A tasty and moody gospel influenced electronic hip hop tune. Jayteehazard is my touring DJ, and one of the gentlest and funniest dudes you’ll meet. Rivals is a leader, a communicator, an artist and label organiser – his husky tones are like coals on a campfire.

And so much more.. briefly, Ngaiire’s Once was my favourite song of 2015; Caitlin Park guested on my album and I’ve included her personality-filled hooky tune Lemonade (you should hear her new shit tho); B Wise‘s 40 Days cos he’s about to tear the roof off this motherfucker; Okenyo’s incredible Just a Story (whoa!).

There’s 28 songs and almost 2 hours of music; play it while you’re cooking dinner, smoking a joint, brewing a coffee, whatever. Enjoy.

Roll Up Your Sleeves lyrics

I’ve been hit up a bunch of times to post the lyrics from my version of Meg Mac’s Roll Up Your Sleeves. It’s taken a while because I’m lazy but here they are.. check my earlier post (inc the video) here.

Kira Puru
Roll up your sleeves
And face the face it’s looking right back at me
It’s easier to leave it oh
It’s easier to fake it, oh oh
So I’ll go and I’ll join the free
There’s people there, they’re just like me oh
Bertie Blackman, Kira Puru, All Our Exes Live in Texas 
Everything is gonna be alright
Everything is gonna be alright

January tricked you when it looked you in the eye
and said no matter what you've been through/ with me, you'll be renewed
a promise made at midnight/ a fire sale that
knew it couldn't drag you into something/
you don't wanna do/ a heart that's full of nightfall
hanging on dear life for/ first signs of daylight
but what if I refuse? what if it all passes like cycling of news
while I'm searching for an ocean/ I can wade into
what if I don't stick around for/ February's saving grace?
maybe I don't know it now/ I'll be in a different place
what I wouldn't dare to face if I don't find my feet
til March I'll find a way of giving chase, best believe
the arms of april may have open hands that hold you up
the pages we're reopening from what we'd folded up
we're not tryna front with all that 'winter isn't cold enough'
but we can handle anything they throw at us
Everything is gonna be alright
Everything is gonna be alright
July had left you waiting, and August wasn't answering
but you're in touch with everyone you've ever known/ never so alone
a starry-eyed september/ reminding you of something
that you cannot quite remember/ so you're reaching for your phone
calling in a favour/ but it's ringing out
you're hanging up before it goes to message/ is anybody home?
there's trouble in your palms and they're making for a handrail
but if you fall/ it's something that you'll own
breathing in the time we borrow
won't be gone until november we'll be here until tomorrow
may as well take a risk
people singing carols while I'm singing this
roll up your sleeves this is it, let em sing it
Everything is gonna be alright
Everything is gonna be alright
Roll up your sleeves
Roll up your sleeves

The Long Loud Hours remixes

Today we drop Jayteehazard‘s remix of Long Loud Hours. It feels so effortless and neighbourly. Jaytee simultaneously reworked the music and transports the sentiment to another, altogether more cruisy place. It’s as if all the crazy drama of the original event is now sepia-toned and easy-going and said with a smile.

If this was the official telling of Lucy Dudko and John Killick’s story, I can imagine Lucy saying “yeh I hijacked a chopper at gunpoint and rescued you from high security prison, but it was cool, the good old days. Would you make me a cup of tea darling?“.

Big shouts to All Aussie Hip Hop blog for premiering this one.
While I’ve got you, Adelaide electronic duo PINES made this incredible instrumental remix, and the superdope Milwaukee Banks went to town on it too.

How to Like a Version

During soundcheck for the biggest show of Hermitude’s career, I received an email asking if I’d like to do the last Like a Version of the year. The catch was that I’d have about 8 days to put it together.

I stressed about it. I got appropriately drunk after the second of two crazyamazing shows and resumed peak anxiety about the like a version cover as I walked home at 6am.

There’s a long line of great covers that have been created for this popular segment on triple j so the prospect of pulling off something good in a short space of time was intimidating. First call? Manager Mondo. He suggested I work with a guy named Jack Grace Britten, who could assist with a musical arrangement. I was also staring down my first gig that weekend and was underprepared. I could feel my hair thinning and falling from my head like passengers on a sinking boat. I called Jack.

I shot an email to Tom Thum, an international star and an old mate I met through hip hop. He was in Abu Dhabi but was returning home a week before this. I called Luke Dubs, who had just finished a US/Europe/Syd/Melb tour and had every right to say no. I gave Kira Puru a buzz as she prepared for that night’s show with Paul Kelly on his Merri Soul Sessions vineyard concert. I checked in with Bertie Blackman, luckily back in Australia for a few months. Lastly, Mondo called All our Exes Live in Texas.

Despite hectic schedules and inconvenient timing, everyone said yes. It was a big deal. Jack shot me an arrangement and I began writing the first of two verses. I could go on and on but we made a little video that takes you into this process, and below that, is the end product: the live recording we did in triple j’s studios.

And here’s the youtube video. Together with the facebook video, it’s had 500,000 views in a week.

Oh and we did a live version of Long Loud Hours, which turned out beautifully thanks to the additional vocals of All Our Exes Live in Texas.

Thanks as always to triple j, they’ve created such a monster with Like a Version, a segment that’s been running for 10 years now. Also big thanks to Matt and Alex, and Greg Wales who engineered it all.

Finally, Long Loud Hours

I had planned on writing a big explanation of the song when it dropped, but things got in the way and then went all charming on me and got the scoop.

Suffice to say, here’s the dot points of the piece:

  • Long Loud Hours was originally about Countdown. Yes, Molly.
  • I think it originally started when we sampled vinyl of Bathurst High School’s choir from the 1960s.
  • The magic moment occurred when Elgusto pressed buttons in a type of way.
  • Lucy Dudko is the hero of the story. I mean, a librarian with no criminal history who hijacked a chopper at gunpoint to rescue her lover from maximum security prison is pretty boss we have no argument there.
  • There is nothing wrong with encouraging people to do great & momentous things for love.

It can all be found HERE

Behind the Story of the Song

And the official music video

(300 Hours) Get It Out Your System feat. Joyride

What started at 1200 hours, then 765, has now climbed down to 300 and the final stop before Long Loud Hours. I’m very happy with this one, not least because I got to work with Joyride, an artist who is about to do some big tings. We worked on a beat written by Hermitude and Pip Norman (as is the majority of the new album) that didn’t get a proper look-in for the record. Then things got complex and I had to leave for South America to join Hermitude while Pip left for the States.

In stepped Adit, one of the illest producers in Australia, to save the day. Not only did he record it all, but took the stems away and added new parts, including the key change. I’m still shaking my head at how ready and willing he was to bring it all together. Mad respect. On a sidenote, I’m listening to new Horrorshow beats and Adit is outta. control. right. now.

Big shout to Joyride, you’re gonna know all about his new music in 2016. Can’t say too much just yet.

I can’t wait to show you what’s up with Oct 12.

When you finish a song and it becomes official gov’t policy on the same day

The second song I co-wrote in a set of three decoys features Broken Tooth boss (and a legend of the local hip hop culture) Ciecmate and my DJ and good friend Jayteehazard. In an uncanny turn of events, our idiot PM made some of my lyrics come true on the day we signed off on the track. More about that here.

The song is called W.A.R. and we’re just over 760 hours away.

#LongLoudHours #Oct12

Don’t Read The Comments Section

Just don’t.

As I near the end of my new record, there’s a zillion words duelling for an airing. Words in song; big dumb words in print; frustrated and emotional words; smart words clumsily phrased; words soaked in relief; words for days mate. But they’re just words so all in good time. For now, I’ve put together something raw, (a decoy?) produced by some of my most talented friends Pip Norman (aka Count Bounce), Joelistics, Yeroc (Damn Moroda) and Pasobionic. I’m counting down to October 12 but more on that later..

And the ARIA nominees…

Last week I discussed the artists that missed out on an ARIA nom, this week it’s all about the contenders for the Urban award..

Iggy Azalea – The New Classic

It’s 2014 and a young white girl from Mullumbimby drops a song called Murda Bizness and no one flinches. Iggy Azalea clearly possesses a formidable inner-strength: she moved to the US at 16 and actually made it in the toughest market there is – that alone is a big deal but despite nearing a billion youtube views it’s been clunky. Her Atlanta rap accent, described as “verbal blackface”  by Jean Grae may be a necessary affectation in breaking the US market, but given the context of her hippy upbringing in Australia, it’s almost Hollywood in transformation. Never fear though, her casually racist stereotyping of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders show she is most definitely Aussie. If Abbott didn’t break any promises and words mean nothing then Iggy can say she’s the realest. In many eyes she’s odds on to win with a staggering break-out year.

Hilltop Hoods – Walking Under Stars

Every album they’ve released since The Hard Road has won the Urban ARIA Award – even when they repackaged The Hard Road with strings they won with that too! It speaks volumes about the respect and affection held for the Hoods by the public and industry that they stay on top all these years later. For me, Walking Under Stars felt like a revitalising album giving the trio a spring in their step as they uncovered new ground with a renewed sense of purpose. Once again the Hoods are selling out huge concerts and their music is going Gold and Platinum. Phenomenal run of success. They’ve reached legacy status. Clear favourites outside of the Iggy juggernaut.

Illy – Cinematic

One of the hardest working artists over the last five years, Illy is a force to be reckoned with distinguishing himself from the pack with authoritative flows and a knack for writing sophisticated pop hooks. Time and time again his singles find their way to the top of radio rotation culminating in this year’s Tightrope, his biggest tune to date. His ambition and focus can’t be questioned – seemingly writing the last two albums simultaneously – and pulling it off. Seriously impressive. He won last year’s ARIA for the inferior Bring it Back album, so surely the far stronger Cinematic has a strong chance.

Thundamentals – So We Can Remember

It’s as if Blue Mountains crew Thundamentals knew they were onto something special when they gave this album its title. Huge growth between albums showed the boys aren’t playing around anymore – they stepped up everywhere, from production to songwriting to clips – I get the feeling we’re only seeing the start of a long run from them. This ARIA Award has at times felt like it’s a ‘profile’ rather than ‘album’ award and if that continues Thundas don’t stand a chance against this list. If it’s the latter, they could surprise everyone because this album was sharp, insightful and ambitious. Got Love for the underdog.

360 – Utopia

One of the most divisive and inspiring artists in the country – I haven’t seen an Australian artist like him in the time I’ve been involved in this music caper. Utopia hasn’t hit the public’s consciousness like the tidal wave that was Falling and Flying but songs like Price of Fame still shook things up – one of the best hooks of the year. I like 360 and have great respect for much of what he’s done – and we need larger than life characters. In with a shot but he’s up against it.

On the topic of ARIAs

This is the time of year where hours in the day feel like they rush ahead of themselves to get to next year. Award ceremonies give weary industry battlers a chance to get drunk and talk over acceptance speeches. The hip hop community has an uneasy relationship with these events but we’re part and parcel of them now.

Given the ARIA Awards are next week I thought I’d look at the albums that did and didn’t make the cut of nominations in possibly the most competitive year yet. We’ll start with those that didn’t.. bear in mind certain artists below didn’t fit in the ARIA timeline or didn’t have an album, and therefore weren’t considered.

2014 announced the arrival of a few exciting prospects that not only lived up to the hype but went well beyond it – the next few years will be very interesting as major labels swoop and throw a bit of cash around.

Starting with Remi and his electrifying debut Raw X Infinity, an album that suddenly revealed the spectrum of Remi’s talent when many anticipated a fun but inoffensive album of songs like Sangria. Hell naw, this was a statement and a half and showed a well-rounded artist with a vision, and a production team and crew that are seriously dangerous.

I work with these guys so take it as you will, but One Day dropped the showstopping Mainline this year and despite being a collective made up of four groups, the album was lauded for cohesion and chemistry. They went on to all but sell the Enmore Theatre out and generally own a huge national tour.

It’s incredible but really no surprise to see Tkay Maidza making waves internationally, with her self-assured tone and flow working impeccably over more electronic beats. She might be the perfect example of just how much talent lies beneath the surface in Australia – or perhaps not – artists like her don’t come around very often. And she’s a teenager. Scary.

L-Fresh the Lion has proven in the space of a short time that he’s one to watch, with a clear-headed sense of purpose and an infectious force of positivity that is difficult to ignore. He pulled together a strong album and with the right production, the next one will be fierce. You get the feeling this guy has only touched on the things he’ll achieve in years to come. He’s a one of a kind.

There’s no fronting on Kerser and the energy that swirls around him. He’s proudly done it with no radio, single-handedly carving his own lane in defiance of all the industry rules. I admire this dude and no matter how wild the lifestyle is he’s proof that there’s a gang of kids around this country looking to him to make sense of their world. Extra props for stepping up a gear with his productivity too (new album out this month).

Joelistics‘ 2nd album Blue Volume is everything you’d expect from such a gifted songwriter, but it adds a few new feathers to his cap with some truly jawdropping moments, not least the above video. No longer riding the wave of young and most hype, Joelistics is probably the most likely to follow in Paul Kelly’s footsteps if anyone could. Very very good.

Allday has gathered a sizeable following of the back of his quirky hip hop but for me the R&B focus in what is probably more deeply embedded indie pop instincts is what separates him from the pack. It’s a testament to his skill that he pulled it off with enough personality to overshadow the Drake influence and form his own lane in the country. The kid completely polarises the hip hop community and his response seems to be to distance himself from the scene, which is a very hip hop thing to do. Look forward to seeing where he goes.

Mau Power and Archie Roach teamed up for one of the songs of the year in my opinion. If I could program triple j this would be in high rotation as this hook from Uncle Archie is a gift. Emotive, real and unforgettable.

Uncompromising and raw, Tornts comes staunch but hip hop is an artform and skills are on full display on Street Visions, his album from late 2013. There’s a clear storytelling thread that comes through in the songs shining a light on the underbelly of Melbourne. One of the strongest voices coming out of the BTE crew you’d be wise to check in on whatever he does next.

No introducing needed with Briggs, one of the most engaging social media characters online. This album took everything up a notch, his songwriting went widescreen and turned a lot of heads in the process. Simply put, there is no other artist in the country quite like him on stage or off. Sheplife is a powerful record packed with humour, skills and a realness that people in this country need to hear.

Still one of the illest, Delta gave us Pyramid Schemes this year and it’s dope from start to finish with Delts’ trademark solid flow in authority mode once again. I don’t need to go on about the commanding presence the bro has but this album even has Peter Tilbrook from The Masters Apprentices on it. Seek it out.

Crate Cartel keeps releasing music that can’t be overlooked although the title of Geko’s album Real Heads Don’t Listen suggests otherwise. This is a solid album that surprises with it’s dusty DOOMesque observations and style – most songs coming in around the 2 minute mark – all heads should listen.

750 Rebels may never win an ARIA (like most of us) but they’ve steadily repped QLD to the fullest and I’ll always check out anything involving Lazy Grey. Love that they took on Andrew Stafford’s excellent Pig City book for their Kold Heat album.

It was never going to challenge the Hoods or Bliss n Esos but Astronomy Class put out what must be the most original hip hop release of the year, teaming up with Cambodian Srey Channthy on a record that brought the golden era of Cambodian soul and rock into local hip hop. Songwriting is vintage OB: multilayered, insightful and sharp.

No doubt I’ve unintentionally missed things (apologies!) but here’s a few more to consider. Perth’s Coin Banks impressed with the Tails EP and this single. Diafrix just put out one of their best songs to date The Sign. One of the most loved people in our culture is Hau and he dropped the Football, Feasts and Funerals mixtape with news that more music is coming in 2015. Chelsea Jane dropped this and raised the stakes – hopefully an album soon? Daily Meds just released their best album including this great single Beneath the RadarMilwaukee Banks are on the horizon, Sarah Connor keeps doing good things, Mathas will be putting out an album in 2015, Baro stays cool as, we’re only starting to see what Citizen Kay will do. Phew. What else? K-21 gave us this chiller, Kween G kept us waiting for her long player, Miss Hood is on the way up as is Philly (with Steven Motlop) via Nathan Lovett-Murray’s Payback Records.


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