RELEASE OF THE WEEK: ONEFOUR 'THE MESSAGE'
Words by Christopher Kevin Au
In an age where rappers are more reliant on catchy hooks and overblown production to make an engaging track, it's refreshing to hear artists hold their own - and that's exactly what OneFour do on their new single, 'The Message.' The West Sydney crew have steamrolled through the underground for the past few years; 'Shanks & Shivs' penetrated earholes back in January and has accumulated 360,000 YouTube views in the two months since, making OneFour one of the most powerful independent artists in the scene. But while 'Shanks & Shivs' was an overcast and down-tempo affair, 'The Message' is saturated with menacing adrenaline, a molotov cocktail of a track that burst onto YouTube on Sunday evening.
The crew's four rappers (JM, Spenny, YP and Lekks; plus an introduction from incarcerated member Celly) go back-to-back over a looming beat from UK producer Gotcha, with no hook in sight. What results is a posse cut where 'The Message' is sent loud and clear: OneFour's bars (consisting of mainly of violent threats) are sometimes delivered with brutal assertiveness, sometimes with frightening nonchalance; and both approaches are equally effective. The crescendo arrives mid-way through the track, a swift pause of silence is obliterated by YP's opening words; "Retaliation is a must/Ain't no maybes, ifs or buts," with a mob of backing vocals singing along rambunctiously. Prepare for this line to become iconic.
Stylistically, OneFour share territory with UK drill, but the track incorporates enough Sydney slang, postcode shout-outs and suburban references to make it their own. The video (filmed by MaxedOut and edited by Ctrl.E) also pays homage to their roots in West Sydney, filmed in front of local kebab stores and in typically brazen fashion, Mt. Druitt court house. Hidden under balaclavas and dressed in Nautica, Under Armour and Adidas, it's no surprise that OneFour's expansive crew have become certified head-turners; and whether they're commanding attention from intrigued listeners or local law enforcement, it's definitely working.
With Australian grime emcees currently building bridges to the UK, it feels like OneFour's spearheading of the Australian drill movement will also make international waves in the immediate future. Some overseas listeners may find their accents hard to swallow, or their branding difficult to understand, but OneFour have shown huge progression on 'The Message' with a more cohesive and concise product. It's only a matter of time before the critics are converted.