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Hilltop Hoods Interview: Calling the Hard Road Home

Author: Erica Dobson
Thursday, 27 July 2006
It is no exaggeration to describe the Hilltop Hoods as 'the face of Australian hip hop'.
The jewel in Obese Record's crown, this South Australian three piece is unique in their ability to appeal to both the mainstream and underground scenes. Subsequently, they have created a serious opening for hip hop to take a foothold in this country. Their most recent album, 'The Hard Road' debuted at No.1 on the ARIA charts, the first time an Australian hip hop act has achieved this milestone. Landmark achievements are nothing new for the 'Hoods, already in the record books as the only Aussie hip hop act to achieve Gold sales status (for 'The Calling' and their recent DVD). Having just embarked on a massive ten week tour, TranZFusion's Erica Dobson caught up with MC Suffa (aka Matt Lambert) to discuss their new CD, tour and why beer coasters are ideal for writing lyrics upon.

You've previously remarked that until Pressure got you into hip hop during high school, you were a big metal fan. What was it about the hip-hop sound that initially caught your interest-
I suppose I got into the heavier sounding hip hop like Public Enemy and Ice-T. Then when Pressure and I started hanging out, I just started listening to pretty much nothing but hip hop.

How long have you guys been doing it all for-
We got into writing rhymes in high school. I've been doing it since I was 13. I'm 29 now, so it's been 16 years.

Where do you get the ideas for your rhymes from-
A lot of our stuff doesn't really come from drawing inspiration while sitting on the edge of a lake contemplating life (laughs). More like notes written on the back of a beer coaster.

Do you have a process for writing your rhymes- Do you and Pressure write collaboratively-
We usually come up with an idea and then write separately. I write really quickly, sometimes in a day or so. Pressure takes longer, like a few months to come up with his rhymes. He's very fussy! (laughs)

Your tracks have a really distinctive sound. What would you say has influenced you musically-
Early on we used to listen to a lot of groups like Public Enemy, KRS One, De La Soul and Run DMC. They influenced me as a producer. Lyrically, I'd say my influences were Pharaoh Monch, Rakim and Organised Confusion. It's too hard to pick a favourite one really. Its like asking a mother who's got three children , "Which one's the best-" (laughs)

You produced a lot of the beats on 'The Hard Road'. When putting together a song, what comes first, the beats or the rhyme-
It happens both ways. Sometimes we have the beat first and then write something to go with it, and other times we have something written but nothing to put it on. Then you go and make some beats until you find one and it's like they're made for each other.

Who finds all the cool samples for your tracks-
Me and Debris. Debris is more interested in actual sound recording than sound production, but he has one beat on the new album. It was Debris who taught me all about sampling and production.

Your album 'The Hard Road' debuted at number one, and really brought hip hop to the forefront of Australian music. Tell me a bit about the recording process and how it differs to your previous album, 'The Calling'-
We spent some long hours in the studio recording. I think that after the success of 'The Calling', we were all feeling the pressure to come up with something good. This album is a bit darker than 'The Calling', a bit more intense, but we still have a few upbeat party tracks on it too.

Where do you see hip hop heading in Australia, now that the Hoods have really opened the scene up-
I'd like to see more young artists getting exposure. There's so much talent around, and it will be awesome to see other hip hop artists get big. Obese records represent a lot of artists we like; Layla, Pegz, Muph and Plutonic, the Funkoars, and Downsyde. Its good to see that teenagers and ot
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