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Acclaim Allstars Card 21 District

21 District

21 District is more than a rap group; they’re a community. They aim to inspire the youth not only throughout their West-Sydney home area but the whole country; they’re doing this with hard-hitting flows and cutting-edge bars.

The collective rose to prominence last year with their debut single ‘The Reply,’ a gritty dose of drill that proves the Australian scene’s strength with flurrying flows and high-octane energy. Members A1, Jay Lekz, RonGotti, and Malik, have undeniable chemistry over the booming 808s, trading bars back-and-forth like Yu-Gi-Oh cards in primary school. And their output hasn’t slowed since, with tracks like ‘Scores,’ ‘Halfway Crooks’, and standout ‘Still Here’, with the latter landing them a finalist spot for our Acclaim All-Stars MVP award.

We caught up with A1 and Jay Lekz to find out more.

Acclaim Allstars 2020

You guys without a doubt have been on a rapid rise over the last year, but how did this music journey start?
A1: It all started random tbh, we came from different walks of life, we were all doing our own thing, living normal lives until the opportunity came across where we could make music. As soon as we were given that opportunity we took it and yeah, here we are today.

Jay Leks: My family grew up in church and was always a part of the church choir or band. Even at school my siblings would always be singing the national anthem for assembly and stuff. There’s a lot of really good singers in my family. Unfortunately I missed that gift lol but I definately didn’t shy away from rapping freestyles when I was with the boys as a yungin growing up in Granville. Rapping was always bigger than life to me growing up.

Growing up together, what artists did you guys bump that influenced this pursuit in music?
A1:
Well for myself I was listening to Tupac and biggie , American artists were definitely a bigger influence back then, because in a way we could relate to the struggle that they went through and eventually overcame.

Jay Leks: Definately an old school head. Tupac and 50 Cent were my fav and then all the other dons Ice Cube, Biggie n all that.

You’ve described 21 District as a community. How does coming together help you all individually grow? 
Jay Leks: We feed off eachother’s energy and I think that’s really important. Groups don’t always work out in the end but once the right formula is found, teamwork is unstoppable. Unity always wins.

A1: Being able to come together definitely gives us motivation and confidence to chase our dreams. In a way it’s an extra battery that we use when we feel like we’re running out, we take it upon ourselves to not only do the music for ourselves but for the area that we proudly represent.

You’ve also talked about how music would make you feel motivated. What do you want to make people feel with your artistry? 
A1: I just want them to feel the love we have for music and the confidence we have in using our talents and not wasting it. So many of us are blinded by what other people say and we are too scared to take that leap of faith to try and achieve our goals or live our dreams. I hope someone out there listens to our music and thinks that if we can go and live our dreams, so can they.

Jay Leks: Personally, my music to me is everything. It helps messages get out and helps important stories that need to be told. Also having a core fan base who relate pushes me more. It’s hectic.

The stories you tell center around the hardships and struggles of real-life. How do you think music has helped you through your own hardships, and how do you think music helps others thrive in their strife?
A1: Music is a way to express our feelings, whether it’s hate or whatever it is, it’s a stress relief that we put out on all our tracks.

Jay Leks: I think everyone has their own battles and fights their own demons, then being able to feel or relate to someone’s music or art helps them know they’re not alone. Also encourages the young ones there’s better ways to express your emotions like through musical art. Whether it be good or bad emotions, whatever.

I’ve heard you guys talk about the importance of standing up for what you believe in, which historically has been hard for some in the rise to stardom. How do you all stay so true-to-self in this journey to success?
A1: Honestly if you have people in your circle that share the same vision as you then you can’t go wrong.

Jay Leks: Core beliefs I think and strong foundations will always take you through any hardships. You lose a lot in this industry like mates, loved ones and time but as long as you don’t lose yourself, you’ll be Eetswa.

Could you guys talk us through the general process of creating a 21 District? What’s the vibe like when you all get in the studio?
A1: We usually head to the studio for a couple hours and our producer will be there running through beats. Sometimes it doesn’t hit straight away, it could take 15 mins for us to start writing or it could take 2 hours. But overall the vibe in the studio is always hectic, it’s like our little getaway from the outside world.

Jay Leks: Energy! A verse I write on my own will sound like a great story but when the boys are around, you get verses like ‘Jay Lekz I’m still widdit, I’m a die hard straight Bruce Willis.’ When we’re all there magic just unfolds.

I’ve seen you guys describe music creation as feeling like a normal job now, where you rock up and work hard. How do you prevent getting burnt out?
A1: Definitely just having breaks, doing things out the studio. Most of us boys get together on our days off and we’d do stuff to get our minds off the music just as you would on the weekends when you’re working a normal job.

Jay Leks: I feel like if you don’t wake up with lyrics or music in your head or you don’t randomly get struck with bars throughout the day, you’re not a real artist. True artists will never burn out of creating it just keeps coming.

You guys are a part of this golden era of hip-hop in Australia right now. What do you think makes the scene so special right now?
A1: What makes the scene so special right now is hearing everyone’s stories and seeing how creative people can get with telling their life stories. People from different ethnicities, different surroundings are not afraid to tell their stories, knowing that there will be people out there that will judge. Everyone is unique in their own way and everyone has their own sound too, this music is really putting Aus on the map.

Jay Leks: Different cultures who were in shadows before are becoming mainstream. Underdogs are taking over. It’s a huge part of Aus hip hop happening right now, crazy to be apart of it.

Lastly for me guys, what’s next for 21 District?
A1: Hoping to release our EP that we’re currently working on and hopefully go on tour and start doing shows! Praying that all goes well going into 2021 so hopefully we can kick it off with a bang!

Jay Leks: The road is still young and long for us as a group but also as individual artists with our own styles and stories. Bros get out in a couple and we can’t wait to take off. We are here to stay.

Follow 21 District here for more.

 

Words: Henry Owens
Photography:
Chris Loutfy