30th November 2019 - The city of Sydney hosted Festival X where a number of notable international singers, rappers and DJ’s including Trippie Redd, Calvin Harris and Steve Aoki, performed at Sydney Showground. Despite all of these electrifying performances, multiple media outlets reported that the stand out moment of the whole event was when US Hip Hop producer Murda Beatz brought out a certain group by the name of OneFour.
If you are not from Sydney, or an avid fan of Australian rap music, this particular group will definitely not be in your general music knowledge. The Australian drill music scene is a style of hip hop which originates from Chicago rappers like Chief Keef and the grime scene in the UK from artists like AJ Tracey, Dizee Rascal and Stormzy. As per the online media outlet VICE, this industry is a ‘Warzone.’
OneFour was formed in 2014 by five boys originally from Mount Druitt by the names of YP, Lekks, JM, Spenny and Celly14. Mount Druitt is a region known for crime and violence and there, this group of boys were doing their best to survive. They worked in basic labouring jobs: bricklaying, scaffolding, warehousing in order to fend for their families. As per a 2018, they stated that music was their only outlet for them to tell their story and realise their true potential. Ironically the four boys met at a Mormon church which shows that they were religious to an extent and it is difficult to judge personalities based on their music alone.
OneFour’s music clearly do not sugar coat their reality, depicting what they have seen and lived throughout their lives in all its shocking brutality. The music videos however are the mediums which are considered the most uncomfortable to view: young men in balaclavas rapping about stabbings and drug deals. This edgy style is what has helped them gain a cult following and a combined 73 million streams over multiple platforms. In 2019, they claimed three out of YouTube's top 10 trending Australian music videos which was one place higher than ‘Dance Monkey’ by Tones and I. The group’s most popular songs include ‘The Message’, ‘Spot the Difference’ and ‘Shanks and Shivs.’
However as mentioned earlier, many people found this type of music disturbing. One of these groups included the most lethal police force in Australia ‘Strikeforce Raptor’. This particular taskforce targets large gangs and terrorist threats but Ricky Simunudjuntak says that they way his group is characterised is ‘way off the mark’ and that ‘Just because you have been in trouble with the police doesn’t mean you’re in a gang.’ The charges against the group include a violent brawl outside a Mount Druitt pub, and a riot started at the Parklea prison which was allegedly started by group member Lekks. Furthermore, two of the group's members YP and Speny were charged with vehicular manslaughter and the stabbing of two people. Police sources have told Daily Mail Australia that their description of OneFour is more a criminal group and street gang than a music collective. In a similar light to the 2019 Tekashi 6ix9ine case, the authorities have used the group’s discography, lyrics and videos as incriminating evidence to many of their crimes.
The Taskforce has already pressured live venues across Sydney into preventing OneFour from performing and resulting in the cancellation of their Australian tour. Police officers have reported that these concerts were shut down and said that it is ‘standard practice for police to provide venues, promoters and others with safety before events.’ Reports by ABC say that there has been no violence since the concerts have been shut down. The significance of their introduction through Murda Beatz at Festival X, was the clear defiance of the law and the rebellious nature of the group, which reflects shades of British Punk rockers ‘The Sex Pistols’ in the 60s and Compton based rap group ‘NWA’ in the 90s. They wanted to give their fans what they wanted.
However, Murda Beatz isn’t the only individual to have been supporting the call for justice for OneFour. Multiple reaction videos across various continents have gone viral on YouTube with Aussie born YouTube duo ‘Dan and Kaz’ racking up almost 766K views on their reaction video for ‘The Message’ where they clearly voiced their support for the group and declared that they are an inspiration for the less fortunate. UK Grime legend Skepta, an early influence on the group, was another celebrity who voiced his support calling them ‘Next up from down under!’
So, take your time from your Tame Impala and Billie Eilish playlists to give OneFour a listen. It is true that this type of music isn’t exactly conservative and ‘chill’ but if you like a good beat, deep lyrics and have a desire to support the local boys: this is the type of music for you. After all, no Australian Hip Hop act has had such a large impact since the Hilltop Hoods in the 90’s, and the lyricism and artistry that these guys offer is so much better.
This is a game of survival. This is a war with the most dangerous taskforce on the continent. This is real life for them and their mission is to continue to tell their story through music.
‘They Look the part, but they posers. No respawn when this game is over’ (Spot the Difference, 2019)