Smokey's Haunt

2 November 2012 Music

Smokey's Haunt


Going into summer, it’s a wonder Urthboy didn’t include more festival jams on the rapper’s fourth record. The most festival-ready cut is second single ‘Knee Length Socks’, an autobiographical account of being a young skate rat dancing at his brother’s Britpop night. Mostly he goes deep, ruminating on mortality (‘The Big Sleep’), hash-tag activism (‘On Your Shoulders’) and national pride (‘Empire Tags’). The last one might be the most emblematic of the times: racism is an inevitable affliction for a genre so tied to national identity, and increasingly our rappers seem ready to address it. It’s encouraging that Urthboy – head of Australian hip-hop’s most established label, Elefant Traks – is doing so, and he does it by invoking our bloody, imperialist past and asking how long we must wait to define ourselves.
“I can’t solve problems by writing this shit,” he concedes in the liner notes, but right now Urthboy and his contemporaries are in the national music spotlight more than anyone else. So maybe, actually, they can.