This year, the world celebrated the rich history of hip hop as the genre celebrated its 50th anniversary.
From Tupac to Biggie, Nas to Nicki, those five decades have been filled with an endless number of iconic artists and figures, as hip hop went from the Bronx to the mainstream.
Because 50 years on, hip hop is the biggest genre in the world, and it’s really not even close. Since its origin all those decades ago, hip hop has permeated fashion, sports, street culture, politics, entertainment, and everything else under the sun in profound ways.
What started out in one area of New York City has spread to every corner of the world, spawning sub-genres and country-specific identities. Drill, trap, grime, and whatever other form you can think of – it’s all traced back to hip hop’s solid foundations.
Australia was arguably slower than a lot of countries to warm to hip hop, but thanks to passionate performers like 360 and Kerser, hip hop eventually found its footing Down Under. Those artists – alongside Hilltop Hoods, Bliss n Eso, and many more – spurred the next generation on, and hip hop is now big business in Australia.
There’s The Kid Laroi, of course, whose went from Inner Sydney to Los Angeles and the world in a manner of years; Western Sydney has become a hotbed of fierce talent, blooming into one of the best global hip hop scenes; the old guard are still going strong, too, with 360 embarking on a regional tour that was so massive it had to be split into two parts.
What do the next 50 years of hip hop in Australia look like? What about the up-and-coming generation? For them, the intersection between the music and technology will become far greater.
Thanks to platforms like TikTok (and previously Vine, Triller, and more), artists have so many more ways to get their music heard and thus, potentially find a foothold in a tough industry. Viral success has propelled the likes of Ice Spice and Lil Nas X to the top, and there’s plenty of Aussie talent looking to capitalise through TikTok, too.
wetty boop 🤭
SRIRACHI previously had less than 300 followers on the platform, but after racking up hundreds of thousands of streams online, her TikTok following is now over 300,000. She dropped her debut EP, SRIRACHI SAFARI, last month.
“When the first video I posted of me rapping went viral, my dopamine was going crazy,” she recalls. “I saw views climb from 2k to 200k and all the comments flood in. All my social media platforms and streams got a fat boost.” Her most viral TikTok video, she says, is “rachis greatest hits of 2021” (4.2M views), a compilation of funny moments that “show my personality,” something that’s so crucial to being a mainstream music artist, for better or worse, today.
rachis greatest hits of 2021
KAHUKX experienced a similar boost. The rapper was a virtual nobody before he blew up thanks to viral freestyles over drill beats; now, he’s released a debut EP, NOTHING TO SOMETHING, and is widely hailed as one of the best up-and-comers in the country. “My freestyles consistently perform the best,” he says. “My most popular video is a cover of “Doja” – Central Cee, where I showcase how I would sound on that particular, familiar beat.”
TikTok has changed KAHUKX’s life, but it’s also brought him closer to his growing fanbase. “TikTok has undoubtedly deepened my connection with my audience. For me, it’s the best platform to connect on a more profound level, allowing me to reveal different aspects of myself through content that may not be as suitable for other platforms”, he insists. SRIRACHI agrees. “They feel like those cousins who always tease you but always make you laugh.”
Neither artist’s success on the platform can be put down to luck, though. Before earning his moment, KAHUKX studied other up-and-comers, learning what he could from them. “I discovered the platform’s effectiveness by observing others utilising it. Witnessing artists break out overnight inspired me to start exploring and become more proficient on the platform.”
KAHUKX, however, knows how fortunate he is to have blown up on TikTok. “I always strive to show love to as many emerging artists as possible, recognising their journey as I continue forging my own path,” he adds.
What tips does SRIRACHI have for someone looking to utilise TikTok as effectively as her? “Don’t be shy. Perfect doesnt exist. Quality is subjective. JUST POST THE GODDAMN TIKTOK!” is her advice. For KAHUKX, being authentic is key. “Use TikTok to showcase another facet of yourself as an artist. Make an effort to become familiar and engage with your audience. While I’m still learning how to navigate the platform, these are the insights and lessons I’ve gathered along the way.”