It’s been just a couple of years between drinks for Aussie hip-hop icon Drapht, but almost three years on from his latest record, he’s returned with one of his most accomplished albums to date.
Dubbed Shadows And Shinings, his seventh album emerges during a difficult time for everyone thanks to 2020 and 2021 being overshadowed and outshined by a global pandemic. However, ever the eternal optimist, this was almost what was needed to help Drapht find peace and the space to complete such an immense record during such a difficult time.
“This album to me has been one big purge and a reset for the most part,” Drapht explains of the album. “It kind of feels like it’s meant to be slotted in just after my 2011 release The Life of Riley. Some song ideas had been following me around for eight or nine years, with others only being a few months.
“For the most part I owe finishing it to the isolation period in 2020. I had a lot of time to reflect on the identity and the relationships that came with making music. I found a lot of peace in letting go, going back to what I knew worked and concentrating on the people who truly matter… I worked with a heap of killer guests and friends on this project. There’s a lot of cathartic venting within the subject matter, but in all, it was the easiest and most enjoyable album I have made to date. I truly believe this is my best stuff.”
With his best stuff in tow, and with a regional WA tour kicking off this evening (find all the pertinent details below), Drapht has taken us through his latest record, going deep on each of the tracks and sharing all the info in regards to its inspiration and how it went from an intangible idea into a veritable classic.
I was sitting on a sample that spoke about the Shadows & Shinings in one’s life and the balance of light and dark within one’s self. This release is a reflection of that; both my lightest and darkest moments over the last however-so-long within this album’s creation. It’s one big purge, one big party and one big family affair.
“Shadow On My Walls”
My writing has always been used to help overcome, make sense and or release anything that was plaguing me within that moment. This track came to life pre-Covid, I had just come out of a relationship and handling it all yet again with my normal coping mechanism – alcohol.
“I thought I was ok, just a little sick of love like Cobain, felt like an old man, tired all the time and grumpy in a funk.” I was really tired of feeling the way that I had been, like I was stuck on a feedback loop, choosing to give my time to people and things that would only help me exacerbate those feelings and manifest more of the same.
“Oliver Twist (feat. Pressure)”
Produced by Sesta and featuring Pressure from the almighty Hilltop Hoods, this track was initially written for a mixtape full of friends that I had originally planned to put out before (what was then) the album. This plan quickly changed when the friend tracks were just too good for a mixtape, so they ended up being spaced over two releases instead.
I had always envisaged having Pressure on another track as a bit of a throwback to our “Verbally Flawless” / “Who Am I?” days. P was the first big collab I had outside SBX coming up, and him jumping on that song when I was just a young little hood rat truly meant the world to me.
He has always showed me love, and as a whole the ‘Hoods have always just been so damn selfless when it came to collaborating with me over the last 15 years – with countless opportunity from being a part of their “Blue Blooded” posse track way back when, triple j’s 40th version of “Cosby Sweater”, featuring on “Brain Box”, having Suff on “Salute”, the whole team on “Don Quixote”, and now P on “Oliver Twist”.
I am forever grateful for these three and the path they’ve paved for so many of us within the scene. Big love to my bro Pressure for absolutely smashing this one out the park. He has a line about a wet dream that’s one of my favourites on the album.
“Model Plane (feat. Bitter Belief & Complete)”
This track features Bitter Belief and Complete. It’s produced by myself, but the original idea stemmed from a writing session I had while I was in LA a few years back with the absolute energy lords – Tony Buchen, Abe Round, and Alan Hampton.
It was titled “Stones Jam” before it found its home on the album, as it’s a big ’60s throwback vibe. I had the chorus to this song floating around for a good ten years (post-“The Life Of Riley”) but the idea just never seemed to find a home or finish itself until now.
It was a no brainer that Bits and Complete would feature on a song together as they’re two of my closest friends, two of my favourite MCs and two of my biggest inspirations in the local scene. Big psych-rock inspired, humorous back and forth vibes on this one
Produced by myself, with some help from Claudio on keys and our good buddy Mark McEwen on guitar. This song is the first that I have written about my daughter and probably the most special on Shadows and Shinings for obvious reasons.
It came about quite magically and just seemed to effortlessly take shape on its own. I really love the arrangement of this song. The idea around “Postcards” was written in my phone as a potential concept for some time, as I’ve always loved the old-school tangible nature of something so simple, yet so caring; receiving a little slice of unexpected love out of the blue. I felt like this was a perfect metaphor to represent my unexpected little gift of a lifetime – my daughter.
“Speakeasy (feat. Jeswon)”
I wrote this one with all round, stand up guy and one of my favourite people in the industry – Jeswon, from the Thundamentals. The song idea came about after bouncing back and forth over email trying to get a song together for the album. I sent Jess a beat a local producer by the name of Creed Birch had made and the following day Jess and sent a sketch of the chorus with a line about turning “lemons into lemonade”.
For some reason a 1920s art-deco inspired speakeasy came to mind. So I went first, writing the first verse and pre-chorus and Jess then followed suit – imagining life in the 1920’s, living our best interpretation within the Great Gatsby era.
I came up for the idea of “Holy Water” in an Airbnb in LA. I had a little unit in Echo Park at the time and I swear the lady that lived in the unit above didn’t ever sleep. I could hear her pacing back and forth, walking around for most of the night reaching a ridiculous amount of kms.
So that’s where the chorus line “I ain’t been sleeping the best, there’s a lady in my roof space” stemmed from, and the second line was inspired by my girlfriend that I had just parted ways from, saying in the days before “we create our own ghosts” and “the things that haunt us the most in life, tend to be that of our own creations.” I thought that concept was great, and the rest of the song just seemed to write itself.
“Hypocrite (feat. Eli Greeneyes)”
Hypocrite was produced by myself and Eli Greeneyes, recorded and put together at my home studio in the Perth hills. The first part came to life after a massive night out in LA with some friends, I used the writing of it to crawl myself out of the depths of the darkest of hangovers. It’s about everyone having a little slice of Hypocrite in them, and now more than ever in the age of the influencer. So I just wanted to balance out the universe a bit.
The second verse came about a week later when catching a flight from LA to New Orleans. I was so busy trying to get to the gate to catch my flight I didn’t realise I had just cut off a guy in a wheelchair going to the same gate, getting on the same flight. I can definitely get better at slowing down, I think we can all be guilty of getting caught up in the rat-race to the next destination and at times don’t quite understand the damage we’re doing in the process.
“Minor Interruption (Interlude)”
This is was just another moment of breakdown and inner-dialogue around the same time “Problem Here” and “Shadows On My Walls” were written. It samples the voice of my daughter, the howling of my puppy and the planes that would fly over my studio daily.
This is another personal favourite of mine on the album. It kind of feels genre-less for the most part. It never sat well with me being told to follow a purist driven set of rules and regulations, just to meet a specific genre’s sound, that didn’t ever quite represent the way I felt.
The subject matter is basically reflecting on my struggles to be able to meet society’s “white picket fence” expectation of finding a sustainable and lasting relationship. Wrestling with thoughts of – maybe it has always been me? Are my expectations too high? Am I meant to be in a relationship at all? Am I meant to continue to wait, or do people just settle? Who is really happy?
“Problem Here (feat. Complete & Eli Greeneyes)”
It was the last song written for my album. Big first world problem vibes on this one – I had just bought my dream house in the hills of Perth, and the week I moved all my stuff in, planes started flying over. Then I found termites in the roof, snakes in the backyard, and to top it all off I have a toddler at home and I decided to throw a puppy in the mix just for some extra excitement.
It was all a tad bit stressful. The idea initially started with “I bought a house from Greg, he promised birds I got some planes instead, fuck you Greg”, but then Eli Greeneyes came on board and made it all a bit nicer and easier to listen to.
This is another song that came out of my US writing trip. We wrote this one night in the 31ft Ford Bounder RV I purchased to travel up and down the West Coast writing the album. It’s produced by Eli Greeneyes and features a gang of friends on the chorus chant. It’s a song about the after-effects of a massive night out, and the many alcohol-fuelled regrets that followed.
I have always had a love hate relationship with the ups and downs of binge drinking within our culture, and the Scotsman within me has never helped the situation. This is just some reflecting on the dumb shit I’ve said, and the silly texts I’ve sent, within the full knowing that I’m not the only one.
I wrote this song while I was in the US a few years back. I was in LA staying on the base of the Hollywood Hill at the time, and my friend who lived locally would tell me stories about coyotes taking small pets if they weren’t kept inside at night and rummaging through bins.
On top of this it seemed like a lot of the people that were driving the Ubers I took were mostly aspiring actors. It made me think “There must be so many people that come to this place and just don’t make it. What happens to all of those forgotten dreamers?”
“Keys to The City (feat. Dune Rats)”
The Dune Rats are the absolute legends you would expect them to be. We met while collaborating on our song “Mexico” six years back which would then follow on to us shooting a video for the song actually in the thick of Mexico City, drinking margaritas and eating tacos for two weeks straight.
This song is another trickle on from that time. Running around feeling unstoppable with the ‘Keys To The City’ and making up our own rules as we go. It’s going to be a blast to play live.
“Release Me (feat. Hunter, Layla & Dazastah)”
This is a throwback to where it all began twenty years ago with Hunter and Dazastah’s album, Done DL. I was just a quiet kid at the time with next to no confidence. One night way back when, I showed Hunter some verses I had been secretly writing. I remember him being absolutely blown away as I didn’t speak much, let alone rap at this point.
He then gave me the opportunity to be featured on a song, that ended up following on to be four songs in total, on an album that ended up being the starting point of my career within the industry and is now one of the most iconic local hip-hop releases to this day.
I had known Hunter since I was 13 through my sisters, I had grown up with Layla, and Daz was one of my biggest influences in the early days of my career. I couldn’t have an album based around family without these three people involved. This is why it’s the last song on Shadows and Shinings. Acting as a temporary bookend from where it all started, to where we are now.
Drapht’s Shadows and Shinings is out now.
Drapht – Shadows and Shinings WA Tour
Supported by Complete, Bitter Belief & Greesy
Friday, September 10th
Jack Rabbit Slims, Perth, WA
Thursday, October 14th
Freo Social, Fremantle, WA
Friday, October 15th
Wintersun, Geraldton, WA
Saturday, October 16th
Exmouth Fishing & Game Club, Exmouth, WA
Friday, October 22nd
Mermaid Hotel, Dampier, WA
Saturday, October 23rd
Pier Hotel, Port Hedland, WA
Sunday, October 24th
Roebuck Bay Hotel, Broome, WA
Friday, October 29th
Settlers Tavern, Margaret River, WA
Saturday, October 30th
Prince of Wales, Bunbury, WA
Sunday, October 31st
Leisure Inn, Rockingham, WA
Thursday, November 18th
Kalgoorlie Boulder Racing Club, Kalgoorlie, WA
Friday, November 19th
Pier Hotel, Esperance, WA
Saturday, October 20th
Studio 146, Albany, WA
Tickets on sale now via Drapht’s website