2022 Semi Finalists
Sydney-based Korean-Australian rap crew 1300 are rewriting the rulebook because there’s no blueprint for what they’re doing – a regenerated vision of your prototypical K-pop boy band, one that is built from the ground up, free of artifice, a product of and for the post-genre streaming age. Composed of rappers rako, goyo, DALI HART, producer-singer Nerdie and producer pokari.sweat, the multi-limbed group subsume the volatility of Soundcloud rap, sweat-doused electronic music and the high-budget sheen of K-hip hop. Centred around fierce independence, authenticity and creativity, the sound of 1300 cannot be defined in pure stylistic terms; instead, they relentlessly chase innovation and excitement through any means necessary.
3K was formed in 2017 by Melbourne friends Moey, Eissa, Beluga, and Benny Lago with an aim to represent Melbourne as a growth corridor for Hip Hop music. Rappers Beluga, Eissa and rapper/producer Benny Lago make up the vocalists in 3K, each boasting distinct flows and delivery.
With a steady ascension in Melbourne’s music scene over the past few years, 3K have dropped a string of hype singles and watched their supporters grow cult-like; selling out headline shows in their hometown.
Raised in West Sydney, A.GIRL is one of the first artists born this century to make a confident mark where R&B meets hip hop and soul with her effortless vocal flow and soulful sing-rap style. A.GIRL is the family nickname given to this 22 year old artist – real name Hinenuiterangi Tairua. Though A.GIRL calls Australia home, the connection to her family’s Maori homeland of Te Hapua in New Zealand runs deep. With her track ‘We Them Boyz’, A.GIRL commands her own space in the hip hop/drill lane and deliberately challenges the idea of what it means to be “one of the boys”.
AGUNG MANGO is a fresh new face on the scene but certainly no novice when it comes to performing and music. Hailing from the Western suburbs of Melbourne, Agung Mango previously had spent the majority of his life playing basketball from a young age, but later turned to music as his newfound passion. The 22 year old rapper draws upon influences from experimental Hip Hop, alternative RnB, Punk, Jazz & Spoken Word – as well as his background of Balinese and Italian cultures, which are reflected through his refreshingly versatile and genre- blending sounds.
Babyface Mal is the 22-year-old Australian-born Turkish/Egyptian rapper with a unique sound. The young gun has been writing songs as long as he can remember and recorded his first released track with one of his childhood friends at 17. In 2020 he released his second mixtape – Time Out under the guidance of 66 Records. Going forward, Babyface Mal intends to release more fresh music to his growing fan-base, hinting that it “will include lots of creativity, styles and vibes”.
Sudanese born, Melbourne bred rapper Baby T has been shocking the city for years, with his original style and emotive lyrics. One of the earliest signees on 66 Records, Baby t grew up in Melbourne’s Western suburbs, and has made an exceptional name for himself in the underground hip hop scene, from recording in his closet to opening for Juice Wrld on his final Australian tour, Baby t is a force to be reckoned with.
Offering serene sounds from South-West Sydney, 20-year-old vocalist Becca Hatch has firmly established herself as one of Australia’s most promising talents. At a young age, her resume is already littered with stellar achievements; from winning triple j’s Unearthed High Indigenous Initiative in 2017, to show-stopping performances at the NRL Grand Final and the Sydney Opera House.
Introduced to hip-hop by her older brother at the age of 12, Becca soaked up Frank Ocean and Pharrell Williams tunes on her iPod, before beginning to make music herself in her high school years. With a sound rooted in R&B; Becca leans into her Samoan heritage with powerful gospel choir vocals and tranquil Island sounds, while her Indigenous roots are evident through storytelling and poignant self-reflection, making for a mesmerising fusion of cultures and influences.
For Sydney artist, producer and engineer Big Skeez, music is in constant conversation with his roots, tracing back generations and running across continents. With a childhood immersed in the sounds of Africa – Afrobeat, Dancehall, Reggae and R&B records from his parents and older siblings ringing in his ears – his wavy, melodically-driven Afro Swing brims with personality, marrying those influences with his Western Sydney upbringing in a vivid, irrepressible combination of syrupy basslines, Afro-inspired percussive rhythms, club-indebted samples and slick vocals that glide between rap flows and autotuned hooks.
CD has swiftly carved her own lane with a cultivated twist on alternative R&B. The soulstress from Melbourne’s western suburbs has left many enamoured by her provocative mode. Armed with a honey syrup voice, and an evolved palette that touches influences of jazz, neo-soul and hip hop, CD uniquely evokes nostalgia while probing forward. After years honing her craft, the singer/songwriter has developed a sound that’s sui generis. Looking through the lens of contemporary R&B, while further drawing from her Egyptian culture, she utilises this blender of styles in her musical expression.
On the song Thugz Mansion, the legendary Nas spat, “I’m capable of anything, my imagination can give me wings…”. It’s that kind of mindset that gives West Sydney artist, CG Fez, the ability to take the listener on a journey through his stomping grounds and into a world of triumph and pain using only his vocabulary and conviction. Whether the soundscape is traditional boom bap, bass-heavy trap or UK Drill-inspired, CG Fez weaves through each instrument with ease, but with purpose. He is never too proud to address his shortcomings and never too shy to talk about his beliefs. West Sydney is the inspiration, but to inspire the world is the aspiration. Born into a family of a Tongan mother, a Turkish father, and four older brothers, CG Fez, knows the importance of love, understanding, hardships and empathy. The truth is in the lyrics and CG Fez is that truth.
Hailing from Melbourne’s Western Suburbs, Craigiewave is a refreshing new voice to rise from the city’s underground music scene — proudly wearing his Polynesian heritage, his heart and his individuality on his sleeve. With roots in hip-hop, Craigiewave has spent the last few years honing a sound that transcends traditional rap tropes, trading them for a variety of global sounds and influences that span across Grime, Garage, House and more.
Likening his music to being trapped in a multicolored ball pit, DoloRRes blends hip-hop, experimental rock & electronica to create his whacked out sound; which he compliments with mind bending visuals and music videos. Born in Rome, DoloRRes currently resides in Melbourne Australia, where he has been writing and producing music since the age of 13. From uploading his work anonymously online to coming up in Melbourne’s bubbling hip-hop scene, DoloRRes has refined his skills as a producer, lyricist and performer.
Gold Fang was born to perform. Raised in Trinidad & Tobago, he moved to Australia in 2015 at 18 years old to pursue a career in music. This followed the footsteps of his father, Errol Renaud, who formed Australia’s first authentic reggae band, Un Tabu, in the 1980s and who Gold Fang lists as a key influence alongside behemoths such as Damian Marley and André3000. His versatility, unique story and unmistakable vocals mean that Gold Fang’s arrival is undeniable. There is only one Gold Fang, and he is ready to share it with the world.
Merging the soundscapes of Western Sydney and Lahore, Pakistan, Hamza is a multi-media artist who’s craft is unapologetically eccentric and steadfast. From painting to producing, the rapper/producer explores the world of social class & race, through narratives that make esoteric stories sound familiar. In 2021, Hamza dropped a 7-track EP entitled ‘Conference of the Birds’, a project which was entirely written and produced by Hamza, showcasing the full extent of his raw and authentic talent. Distinct in his cadence and use of colloquial language, Hamza has shown that he is not contained in his craft, often combining classical Punjabi samples with cruddy boom-bap breaks. Hamza puts a spotlight on a part of Australian society that few others are showing and carves out a unique musical lane for himself.
Melbourne producer, vocalist, and performer, IJALE, is a self-contained master of his sound.A keen music fan and avid creator, he blends a myriad of Afrocentric sounds and western influences that reflect his Nigerian heritage, his Australian upbringing, and the multifaceted taste of an open-minded listener of the internet age.
Independent hip-hop recording artist Jaal derives from the South-East suburbs of Melbourne, home to local greats and many of the leaders revolutionising the creative landscape of Australia. Jaal brings a brand-new flavour to the local Hip-Hop scene. The 22 year-old artist mixes the raw expression and lyrical ability of the Boom Bap era with the modern soundscape and flows of newer music, all while allowing his South Sudanese & Australian heritage to be colourfully displayed.
Born in Melbourne with Chilean heritage, Jalmar is bringing Latin America to Australia with a gusto like no other. Effortlessly merging Latin instrumentation with trap drums, Jalmar raps with quiet confidence but loud charisma. With both parents from Chile, culture and heritage is paramount to Jalmar’s voice. His musical process is unfixed, each time he sets out to make a new track the path changes, there’s no formula. Guided by intuition, Jalmar and producer Younique let their emotions on each day push and pull the sessions to where they need to go. Inspiration breathes up out of day-to-day activities, whether that’s half conscious raps in the car or freestyling over beats online.
Jaycee is a 23 year old Jamaican-Australian singer, rapper, producer and multi-instrumentalist from Perth, Western Australia. He is best known for his versatile sound and invigorating live performances. His musical style is a fusion of Hip-Hop, R&B and Trap incorporating elements of Funk, Soul, Latin & Reggae. Jaycee began his solo career at the beginning of 2018 busking in the streets and has since gone from strength to strength, amassing an independent catalogue of 70+ original songs, performing at some of the largest festivals in Australia, rotation on mainstream radio and collaborating with iconic brands.
KVKA has been around the block in his 23 years, the rapper-going-on-rockstar was born Zambia and has lived in Wales, New Zealand (where he found music) and is now based in Melbourne. At just 16, KVKA (Taken from his birth-name Mukuka) secured his spot in the NZ hip-hop scene and has since relocated to Melbourne where he’s developed his sound to build a rich and considered catalogue. From high-octane barrages of rap to sombre and reflective anthems, KVKA does it all with ease.
It’s barely been 12 months since KYE formally introduced herself to the world, but she’s already won over audiences with her celebratory, sun-soaked sound that effortlessly bridges pop and R&B. Earning praise for her “warm, inviting vocals all giving an Erykah Badu meets Andre 3000 vibe” by The Guardian, KYE will be bringing her unbridled soul and passion to more stages well into 2022 and beyond.
An artist like LIYAH KNIGHT is a rare find. The Sydney based songwriter and musician has stirred a new energy into the Australian music scene, effortlessly combining genres to create a unique sound that is truly her own. Armed with a voice and sense of storytelling that is both intensely personal and yet immediately accessible to any listener, the 25 year old has emerged as a bright new voice that Australia is waking up and taking due notice of.
MADAM3EMPRESS is an Australian-born South African artist with big energy, tasteful savagery and uncompromising creative vision. Music became her cultural anchor between the country she was born in, and the South African blood running through her veins. Her love and connection to music helped her navigate her identity, her femininity, her drive, her passion and her purpose.
With deep roots in Gospel music and Cape-Townian Jazz, mixed with her love for Neo-Soul, RnB and Hip-Hop has allowed her to create art without boundaries, enabling her to write and perform from a place of true freedom and absolute certainty. This freedom means she can create music that crosses genres and is impossible to box in, with her strong, confident vocal delivery and razor-sharp lyrics acting as the anchors to keep her art consistent.
Raised in Newcastle NSW, Mason Dane was was exposed to music from all genres since birth, playing guitar with his as early as 4. After Mason finished school, he decided to take music seriously as it was the only constant in his life. Not being from a major city Mason had to teach himself production, mixing and songwriting, self releasing his first EP in 2018. Mason caught the attention of his management and he relocated to Sydney to have a shot at his dream and has since have established himself as a writer and producer for names like Day1 and Hooligan Hefs while also carving out his own lane as an artist, creating songs from trap to pop to EDM and more.
Ms. Thandi has burst onto Australia’s flourishing R&B scene. Having grown up around Old Soul/Funk music, Ms. Thandi possesses a trove of creative influences which compliment her ever-evolving sound and style. Ms. Thandi’s debut single, “On The Table” (2019) was the first instalment of a series of inspired releases that have solidified her as one of the most promising singer/songwriters in Australia’s R&B realm.
With only two releases under her belt, Melbourne-based rapper Mulalo is a breath of fresh air tin the Australian hip hop scene. A year after impulsively releasing her first single ‘Check’, Mulalo came back locked and loaded with the Nerve produced certified Western Suburbs classic ‘M31’ which received widespread acclaim and airplay from tastemakers triple j, unearthed, Acclaim Mag and FBi radio. Bold, brash, and boisterous, the breakout single saw Mulalo land on the coveted Spotify A1’s ‘To Watch’ list in addition to being Genesis Owusu’s top track of 2021, quoting “M31 (Racing Down The Hume)’ by Mulalo slaps. Hardest song of the year. Winner from the jump.”
Having already supported the likes of Jesswar, Nerve, 3K and Jaecy, Mulalo has proven she’s a natural behind and in front of the decks, commanding her live sets and DJ sets unapologetically and confidently.
Nardean is an icon rising who represents her Egyptian heritage and her Western Sydney upbringing throughout her music. Channeling raw emotion to actualise queen anthems, poetic tenderness and middle finger bangers, Nardean has emerged as an undeniable force at the forefront of the ever changing face of Australian music. With powerful lyricism that aims to challenge the mind, nourish the soul and make you fall in love with life.
Despite being in the infant stages of her career, Pania’s vision has always been global. Raised in the cultural melting pot of West Melbourne, the singer took inspiration from her Maori and Indian heritage, fusing it with the fiery desire to achieve bigger and better things. Having reinterpreted songs by Usher and Drake, it’s clear how these legends have influenced Pania: She takes leads from the romantic nostalgia of 2000s R&B, and the late-night, lonely soundscapes favoured by OVO producers; melding them into her own fresh, soul-stirring sound.
First meeting in 2011, LKGD and SVNO were quick to connect and develop a creative partnership, with Jazz capturing their attention in 2017. In the three years to follow, Planet Vegeta has formed for itself a defined sound comprising hip-hop, electric soul, R&B and indie sensibilities. Built on a foundation of brotherhood and a shared love of old school sounds and the new, Sydney’s Planet Vegeta emerge bristling with confidence and excitement – ready to steer the city’s hip-hop/R&B scene in a new direction. In their own right, the trio of LKGD, SVNO and Jazz NOBDI are talented wordsmiths and producers, elevating their skills writing across a number of Sydney projects. Planet Vegeta are riding the wave of successful session after successful session. When the vibe is right, don’t question it.
In 2021 PRICIE made her grand debut with the release of her powerful and charismatic single ‘too dang good’, leading the rapper, singer-songwriter to be labelled as one to watch. The Australia/Nigerian talent gave fans another taste of her fresh, slick and soulful sound, releasing ‘FRIENDZONE’, featuring one of Australia’s most in-demand talents and multi Aria award winner, Genesis Owusu. Known for her attitude towards self love and appreciation through her music, PRICIE continues to shed light on female empowerment.
R.em.edy is a Melbourne-based singer, producer, songwriter and rapper who makes music in the R&B, soul, indie pop and hip hop genres. Her songwriting stems from her own life experiences, employing emotional vulnerability and honesty to discuss topics such as feminism, ableism, relationships and heartbreak as well as self love and individuality.
18-year-old Sahxl has been primed as one of Australia’s next breakout stars, teetering the line between R&B and Hip-Hop with brazen conviction, honest story-telling, and undeniable melodies. Having written and recorded music in his bedroom since the age of 12 as a form of self-expression – music quickly became an escape from everyday life and a way for Sahxl to feel connected. For Sahxl, music has long acted as an outlet built from necessity. Sahxl has earned praise from international tastemakers like Ebro Darden and fellow Australian star The Kid Laroi, whilst in his native Australia, he has featured in numerous tastemaker publications and received support from his city and community.
Hailing rom Liverpool NSW, Skenzo is bringing a hard hitting and unfiltered flow to the bubbling drill scene in Sydney, Australia. However not to be boxed in as a drill artist, ‘Skenzo’ is as versatile as they come with his patterned flow that seems unfaltering till the last beat on any tune. Influenced by his surroundings ‘Skenzo’ Brings the listener to his world as he spits his raps with a focus on authenticity and rawness.
Srirachi is a Vietnamese rapper on the rise bringing fresh spunk and unlimited energy. She has a special ability to connect with her fans and has over 135,000 followers on TikTok to show for it. She is unabashed in speaking her mind with an addictive personality that constantly sees her go viral. Determined to represent Melbourne, she aims to combat Asian stereotypes and be a role model for those who wish to pursue their creative dreams. Growing up listening to Kanye West and Nicki Minaj, Rachi is strapped with endless cheeky punchlines that show she has a clever sense of humour and flow to match.
That Kid Maz
ThatKidMaz is a young Eritrean Australian rapper from Melbourne. His desire to keep the art of lyricism and melody alive ignites the fire within him to consistently implement these elements into his music. While preparing to release his anticipated debut EP at the top of 2022, ThatKidMaz continues to elevate and uplift through a strong line-up of collaborations and performances with both local and international acts.
Born in the town of Debre Tabor, Ethiopia, YIBBY was adopted at the age of two-and-a-half and brought to Sydney. Developing his interest in music largely through watching ABC’s Rage as a kid, YIBBY combines early rap influences of Kanye West, Jay Z & Pharrell with contemporary artists including Joey Bada$$, Isaiah Rashad and Earl Sweatshirt. Coupled with his love of the underground rap scene, YIBBY’s sound has blended to form his traditional-meets-modern amalgamation of crisp wordplay and flows over a varied range of production.
New Zealand born artist ZPLUTO moved to Australia in 2008 where he’s been based ever since. ZPLUTO’s sites a heavy influence from a range of artists from Bruno Mars and Rhianna to Juice WRLD and XXXTentacion plus New Zealand group Common Kings. His love of music from a young age lead to him exploring many genres and experimenting with his sound. ZPLUTO’s music combines rock, rap and pop elements giving him a unique style and a signature sound in the current Australian music landscape.