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He attracts as much police attention as he does fans, and he's a member of Sydney’s most notorious crime family; the Alameddines, but is Ay Huncho Australia’s most dangerous rapper?

Outside the Odyssey Bar in Leichhardt, Ay Huncho arrives in a midnight Rolls Royce Phantom. His hair is slicked sharp, his neck is dripping with diamonds, and his hulking entourage does not blink.

Huncho struts past security, as his militant crew follow closely, to the sound of a swirling tabla drum. His crew wear their Louis Vuitton cross-body bags tight. There’s no eye contact from members of the crowd as we are ushered in front of the band. Before we are seated, the singer pauses and dedicates an Arabic poem about knives to Huncho.

On our table, a woman dressed as a cabaret dancer blows fire. Huncho pops a bottle of Dom Pérignon and pours it on the drummer’s tabla, one of his boys showers the singer in green bills, as the rhythm of the drums ascends into a trance. 

Within moments, we are surrounded by a police task force who are tasked with monitoring our movements. 

Image of Ay Huncho

Ay Huncho is under investigation over his involvement in the Alameddine crime family. (Photo by Grechie)

This year, the rapper has made headlines as a member of Sydney’s most notorious crime family; the Alameddines. New South Wales Police allege the syndicate is involved in a bloody tit-for-tat war with the Hamzy crime family on the streets of Western Sydney.

In 2020, the ongoing war between the Alamedine and Hamzy crime families erupted with the execution of Mejid Hamzy at his Condell Park home. Over the following six months, a string of shootings and attempted murders have been linked to the families.

Detective Superintendent Jason Weinstein, of Strike Force Raptor, recently told reporters outside a crime scene linked to the shootings between the gangs; “We are going to lawfully harass those people who are engaging with organised crime.”

As a rapper in the public eye, Ay Huncho has been centre stage in the reporting of the violent war. He has recently been acquitted of several violent assaults and decided to tell the inside story for the first time. 

“Just yesterday the police raided my house and A Current Affair was at my front door with cameras,” he explains, smiling. “The reporter kept asking why the police were here so I told him, ‘They must be fans of my music and wanted to meet me in person’.” The following morning his cousin was raided. A Current Affair was at the doorstep of his cousin’s home.

“Just yesterday the police raided my house and A Current Affair was at my front door with cameras. The reporter kept asking why the police were here so I told him, ‘They must be fans of my music’.”

In March, Ay Huncho was raided by Strike Force Raptor three times. “The head of Raptor Squad was at my house yesterday, his name is Jason Weinstein. He goes, ‘Who do you think is more famous? Me or you?’ I asked him, ‘You do this for the fame?’”

Image of Ay Huncho

(Photo by Grechie.)

Ay Huncho was raised in Merrylands, a suburb in Greater Western Sydney. The area has been spotlighted by the Underbelly series as the turf of Kings Cross nightclub boss John Ibrahim throughout the early Nineties.

“I was a man at a very young age. I had to supply for my family. I was 17 and helping my mum live. I’m cool with my dad now, we’re close. He started helping out. But there was a long period where he was struggling with his own issues.” 

Huncho’s story begins with his family. “After my parents got divorced, a lot happened. My dad wasn’t around. I’m not gonna say that I was living in a hole,” says Huncho, in a quiet solemn tone. “But my mum was struggling. She was living off Centrelink. We kept moving from house to house and I kept moving from school to school.”

When asked why: “Because, you know, my behaviour.”

Huncho was kicked out of four different high schools. At first, his family wanted to invest in his future and paid for him to attend a private Catholic school. He recalls the troubled post-9/11 era, “I was the only Muslim at this Catholic school. I was clashing with the students. I started getting into fights. I had to stand my own ground. I didn’t have boys to back me up.”

After several violent incidents in the school yard, the students stopped making fun of Huncho’s faith. He was conditioned by an environment that taught him violence works. 

Huncho’s family moved him to Bellfield College, an independent Muslim school in rural New South Wales. “I wanted to change my ways. I wanted to learn about Islam.” At a school assembly, he was introduced to nasheed music; a form of Islamic vocal music practiced a capella.

“I started singing along with the teacher. He would write the lyrics for me and I would sing the religious songs. When we would pray dhuhr and asr, I was asked to lead the prayers because of my voice. I found my voice at that school.”

And yet, at his core, Huncho struggled to settle. He couldn’t escape the drama. He began skipping classes and clashing with other students. “I would skip school. But because I was in the country around farms and shit…I couldn’t go anywhere.” Huncho laughs, “I would jump fences into farms and ride their horses.” In Lebanon, children learn to ride horses from a young age.

“I was 14. My parents were trying to keep me separated from my family. I hadn’t got involved with the gangster side of my family yet.”

After transferring to another school and being kicked out again, Huncho landed where he always wanted to be; Parramatta High School. “I was finally in my area where all my cousins were and all my friends were. My mum really didn’t want me there. But it got to the stage where she had had enough.”

Huncho began constructing his reputation in Parramatta High. It was a place where who you were was dictated by what you had done. “That’s when things started becoming bad. That’s when I started becoming bad. I was known to be that kid who reps his school hard. No one was coming to our school to start dramas because they knew who was there.”

“That’s when I started becoming bad. I was known to be that kid who reps his school hard. No one was coming to our school to start dramas because they knew who was there.”

On the football oval he met Masood Zakaria; a shot-caller among the boys in the high school. They formed a crew. In the western suburbs of Sydney, troubled young teenagers in high school are expected to defend the reputation of their area or high school in fist fights and stabbings. Whispers meander across the postcodes about ruthless enforcers who are willing to “run the ball” for notoriety.

Many sacrifice their future, and some tragically sacrifice their young lives, to feel validated across the forgotten neighbourhoods.

“When I got to Parramatta High, there’s a lot of sports involved. Back then there were a lot of street gangs. And we would clash with them on the field, and meet up later on,” explains Huncho. “We were meeting up at the Parramatta library, Parramatta Hungry Jacks, Parramatta Park, and fighting. One day the boys from Arthur Phillip High wanted to have a crack, the next day the boys from Granville Boys wanted to punch on, so every day I was fighting because every day someone wanted to test who we were.”

In between the fighting, Ay Huncho dropped his nasheed recitations for freestyle rap battles with another Sydney rapper named Sy Dubz. “Me and my cousins grew up listening to a lot of Doomsday productions. It was a lot of violent style murder shit.”

His taste in music shifted with the gears of his surroundings.

“I remember the first day I got tested. This bloke from Auburn tried to check me. Something happened to him after that. And I’d walk into any area with my head held high. And nobody could look me in the eyes. And that was when I was 17.”

“Nobody could look me in the eyes. And that was when I was 17.”

Within a year, Huncho was arrested for brawling with a gang at an underage event. “That was huge for my parents. My mum and dad were crying like, ‘What the fuck?’” 

After being kicked out of high school, Masood and Huncho began working in his father’s removalist company. As Huncho began earning a reputation on the streets, his best friend became a member of Australia’s most violent street gang, Brothers 4 Life. They quickly found themselves trapped in the cold crosswinds of a thug life.

“Masood’s sister was shot in a gang war,” he says, with a long pause. “That was a big part of our lives. A dark part of our lives. We were at the hospital every single day. It was like my sister had been shot. It was a long recovery. It was hard for us.”

Huncho was eventually sent to the family village in Sarafand, Lebanon. The plan was for him to settle down and get a taste of the life his parents escaped. “It didn’t work because I started running amok in Lebanon,” smiles Huncho. “All my uncles in Lebanon are big hunters. My family is deeply involved in the military. I was becoming more militant.”

One afternoon while bored in Lebanon, Huncho bought several bootleg DVDs. He says, “I watched this movie called Undisputed with Wesley Snipes. He’s in jail and he’s the best boxer in the system. He challenges the world heavyweight champion.”

In the alleyway of his village, Huncho began running and cutting weight. He managed to find a boxing gym close to his town in Lebanon. In a bombed-out room, there were two dusty punching bags Huncho would practice on.

Upon returning to Australia, he trained as a boxer for four years. “Fighting has always been a passion for me. The way we grew up, we had to learn to fight to survive,” says Huncho. On Instagram he films rapid-fire combinations that are executed with the finesse of a dancer. “That’s all I was doing. I wanted to keep the fighting in the ring.” His family had other plans.

On the streets of Merrylands, Huncho was recruited into the family.

“When I started hanging around with my cousins, I grew up fast,” he explains, still surprised. “The shit I was seeing as a youngin, I can tell you now no youngin would ever see that.” NSW Police allege the Alameddine crime family are involved in serious crime relating to guns, drugs, violence, and organised crime.

“The way the boys had the area locked down was crazy. There was about ten of them in their early twenties. Just young and dangerous,” says Huncho, evidently mesmerised by their image. “We had a crew called K4F (Kill For Family). I was seeing some crazy shit. There was obviously a lot of dramas involved. Let’s just leave it at that.”

Last year Huncho’s cousin, Talal Alameddine, pleaded guilty to supplying a Smith and Wesson revolver that was passed on to 15-year-old Islamic State supporter Farhad Jabar. The weapon was used to murder NSW Police accountant Curtis Cheng.

While imprisoned in Goulburn’s Supermax, security cameras captured a violent altercation between Talal Alameddine and the head of the Hamzy clan; Bassam Hamzy. The footage shows an animated discussion before Talal unleashes a flurry of blows toward Bassam. Sources claim the fight was over the balance of power. 

“Merrylands is our bubble. If you’re from another family and you come through Merrylands – you have to check in,” quips Huncho. “It’s as simple as that. If you’re in our area and if you’re from another family, and we don’t know about it – you’re getting pressed. All our families live here. We’ve done well to keep it clean.”

“If you’re in our area and if you’re from another family, and we don’t know about it – you’re getting pressed.”

Ay Huncho is clear about earning his stripes off his own back. “I’ve never had a reputation because of who my family is. I built my reputation fighting in the streets,” asserts Huncho. “Taking the leap to become a rapper, at a time when there were no rappers, was a hard decision to make because I had a rep in the street within my age group. And my family had a reputation to uphold.”

When asked how he thinks his family reputation ascended the ranks of the underworld, Huncho is sincere, “I’ll say it with my whole chest, it’s because we’ve never let any outsiders in and we’ve stuck to a mad code of loyalty.”

Image of Ay Huncho

Ay Huncho has paved a new road for young Muslim-Australians involved in crime. (Photo by Grechie.)

A few years later, a nightclub DJ named Willi invited Huncho up onstage at the Albion Hotel. Huncho was known on the nightclub circuits for his flashy persona and ruthless attitude. Huncho recalls, “Willi would hand me the mic and I would rap along to the songs. I wasn’t an MC but I would grab the mic and start rapping.” 

DJ Willi had a close relationship with an upcoming producer named Dopamine, who now produces for the major artists such as Zayn and The Kid LAROI. Dopamine told Huncho to make the most of his voice. “I was thinking too much of our reputation at the time.” 

His family were initially against the idea. They believed it might ruin their cut-throat reputation in the western suburbs. “I had to make more music and show them that it’s something I wanted to explore. Eventually one of the boys said, ‘Nobody talks back to us. Why would they start now?’” The family decided to back his play.

“Our life is a movie, but I want people to get a glimpse of it. What it takes to see what I’ve seen. The sacrifices it takes to come from this life. So I started rapping about the streets.”

“Our life is a movie, but I want people to get a glimpse of it. What it takes to see what I’ve seen. The sacrifices it takes to come from this life. So I started rapping about the streets.”

Huncho’s lyrics ebb and flow between R&B anthems and thuggish lyrical assaults. He was the first rapper to express the shameless decadence of his gangster lifestyle.

“Nobody had seen that lifestyle on show for the area. We had Lambos. We had Porsches. We had AMGs. I was 18. I was going to the clubs cashed up. All the girls were in my section,” explains Huncho. “When my tracks came out, everyone in Merrylands were blasting my music in their cars and playing it at the basketball courts on their speakers. It was a crazy scene. It motivated the whole area. I didn’t want to be in the game forever.”

In nightclubs, Ay Huncho’s crew were rumoured to be responsible for a series of brutal bashings. There was an incident in which someone who joked about his music on the dancefloor suffered a facial reconstruction the following week. When the biggest names in hip-hop land in Sydney, they look him up. “We party with A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Tory Lanez, and Giggs. We’ve recorded some tracks together too.” Huncho hints at some major features appearing on an EP scheduled to be released later this year with the genre-defining Sydney label Biordi Music.

On a sunny afternoon, Huncho unshers me past a blacked-out Audi RS6 into a family home in Merrylands. There’s fishing boats, yachts, and motorcycles. A huge Afghan feast has been prepared by Massood’s family. The boys watch a football game beside a screen of CCTV cameras. Massood puts food on everyone’s plate before he sits down to eat himself.

“I’m not going to say I grew up poor. I had opportunities and good education. My parents tried the most and it didn’t work out. I just let the streets raise me. I grew up on the streets. It made sense to me and my environment,” says Huncho. “I want to make a way out, not just for me but for all my brothers. I want to make them happy because they’re excited for my career. Everytime I make a new song I love seeing the excitement in their faces. In their hearts I want them to know that I want to take them with me out of the game.”

In recent months, NSW Police applied for serious crime prevention orders against Rafat Alameddine and Massood Zakaria. Huncho’s cousin Rafat has been placed on a non-association order and labelled the head of the family.

“We’re not allowed in certain areas. We can’t associate with family. We’re not allowed to have two mobiles. We can only ever drive or be a passenger in a single vehicle. These orders have made history,” explains Huncho, as he spins on a quad bike in the suburban street. “They put my name on Massood’s order but we had to fight hard to have it overturned in court. We tried for Raf’s order too, but the prosecutors threatened that if we try he will make sure Raf will never be able to speak with his brother Talal in jail. I miss Raf, bro, the bloke is my family.”

The rise of drill rap in Australia has echoed the same problems with violence across postcodes in the UK. For rappers to have significant status in the genre, they have to carry a heavy reputation on the street. In the current climate it is becoming increasingly difficult to decipher whether art is imitating life or life is imitating art. For artists like Huncho, rap is a path leading him out of “the game”.

“I want to tell the youth to put their guns down.”

“I’m not thuggin’ anymore. I’m focusing on my career right now,” asserts Huncho. “I want to tell the youth to put their guns down. I’ve been around the biggest gangsters in Australia. They’ll shoot people and go into hiding. In my eyes that’s a coward. And at the end of the day it’s Muslims killing Muslims. We’re killing ourselves. We’re tired of the news telling our story. Rap is our way of making the world pay attention to our voices and our stories.”

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