“We need pill testing at festivals”: Hilltop Hoods’ MC Suffa on making music, the biz and happiness
Love it or hate it, Australian hip hop is here to stay, thanks in no small part to genre trailblazers Hilltop Hoods.
Bursting onto the scene in 1994, MC Suffa, Pressure and DJ Debris have been paving the way for Aussie hip hop ever since.
Legions of chart-topping singles and their monumental Drinking From The Sun and Walking Under Stars Australian Symphony Orchestra Tours have seen the trio keep at the forefront of the game for over two decades.
Clocking up seven albums and eight ARIA awards, they have well and truly cemented themselves in Australian music lore.
And they’re not planning on slowing down anytime soon.
Following ARIA nominated Gold single ‘Clark Griswold’ (Feat. Adrian Eagle) is ‘Leave Me Lonely’ the second taste off Hilltop Hood’s highly anticipated eighth studio album The Greatest Expanse.
TMN caught up with Suffa to talk lasting legacies, changed sounds and what they have in store for the future.
You guys have been such a fixture on the Aus music scene for so long, can you remember the first time you thought, “Wow, maybe we can make it in this industry?”
It was probably when we were forced to leave our jobs because of touring commitments. P and I were working in a factory together, and we were taking so much time off to do shows that the boss kind of gave us an ultimatum.
That’s probably when we thought to ourselves that we could make a real go of it.
How has your sound evolved over the years? What have you learnt about that sound’s identity?
Hopefully our sounds got a lot cleaner and tighter. As we’ve developed as musicians and people, our home studios have as well – we’ve invested a lot of time and money in creating spaces where we can achieve the sound that we’re looking for.
And as the years have passed I think that we’ve become more aware of who we are and what makes us different. To be honest it has a lot to do with the records that we sample. There’s an undercurrent of country funk that runs throughout our bigger songs – Nosebleed, Hard Road, Cosby, Leave Me Lonely… I feel like we’ve embraced that, and that it’s almost become our trademark sound.
How does your music writing process compare now to when you were first starting out?
I guess that we’re a little more confident than we used to be. I guess that comes with any craft that you dedicate enough time to though.
On top of that, we have more options nowadays than we did when we were coming up. If we want to get strings played on a track, or to bring in a session singer… We’re not just limited to (or by) our own abilities.
What has been the most impactful moment that you’ve had from your live shows?
For me personally, it would have to be watching Pressure perform ‘Through the Dark’ over the last couple of years. It’s a powerful, personal song about his son and seeing how it affects some people in the crowd is remarkable.
How have you seen the Aussie hip-hop scene expand and grow since you’ve been involved?
Massively. The good thing about the community in Australia now is that there’s much more diversity. Not just in the music, but amongst the artists.
What’s one thing that needs to change in the Australian music scene?
We need pill testing at festivals. It’s just common sense and it will save lives.
I feel like people who rail against the idea don’t understand harm minimization, and are not interested in finding out, which is really disappointing.
How do you feel your music affects your audience? How do you want your music to affect your audience?
Honestly, I’ve always seen us as a party band. I just want people to have a good time.
Who’s the band or artist you wish people would compare you too?
Ahaha. I’m not sure that’s a game that I want to play because I would almost definitely be opening myself up to a boatload of criticism.
What do you want to have achieved this time next year?
I have a two-year-old and a six-month-old, so by this time next year, I would like to have achieved a full nights sleep.
Describe your idea of success.
My daughters being healthy and happy.