Hilltop Hoods are Australia’s biggest Hip Hop act of all time. They’ve just returned from a tour of Canada and the USA, and are about to embark on a national tour back on home soil. Nicci Seccombe catches up with Suffa MC for a chat, before the boys land in Coffs Harbour to kick off their tour.
I have been a massive fan of the Hoods since you released your first album back in 1993. You boys have done extremely well …Tell us about life in the spotlight – what are the ups and downs?
I guess the travelling can get pretty intense. We all came back from the tour of North America, where we all just wanted to kill ourselves, because the flights and the travelling were just so insane. That’s the negative side, but the positives were that we were playing in New York and doing the tourist thing, seeing the world and meeting new people. So the thing that stands out the most is definitely travelling – the good and the bad side of it.
The Hilltop Hoods are recorded as the biggest selling Australian Hip Hop group of all time. What artists or bands do you draw inspiration from for your music?
Oh man … where do I start? At the moment, I am really inspired by watching Public Enemy on the Groovin the Moo tour. It’s great watching those guys who are two decades our senior still doing it – and doing it amazingly well. They have this massive back catalogue of music that is just genius.
What are you listening to at the moment?
I am listening to a bunch of different stuff – Action Bronson, LP’s new album, Gift of Gab’s new album … yeah a heap of different stuff.
What would be your ideal festival line up?
Can it be dead or alive? Ha ha! That’s a hard question. I have never really thought about that sort of thing, but it would definitely be a mix of stuff; it wouldn’t just be Hip Hop acts.
I guess as the headline act I’d reunite Organized Confusion, one of my favourite groups of all time. Kraz and De La Soul would have to be in there too, because they are the best Hip Hop groups I have ever seen by far.
Your new album Drinking From The Sun hit platinum within a month of its release. Who are some of the artists you worked with on the album, and what made you decide to collaborate with them?
Well, we worked with Classified on the album, who is a Canadian MC. We wanted to work with him, because we did a tour with him and we became good friends. We also worked with Solo from Horroshow … we have always wanted to work with them. They are really gifted, and they are a huge up and coming act in Australia.
Who else is on there? Um Chali 2na … we met years ago and when I made the beats for Speaking In Tongues and wrote this hook, I could just hear him on it, and so we reached out to him and he happened to be coming to Australia. So we recorded with him, which was a really great experience. Black Thought from The Roots is on there too. He is one of my favourite MCs. That was a no brainer, so getting a chance to work with him was amazing.
There is one person you haven’t mentioned and she is one of my favourite Australian artists – Sia. Your song with her, I Love It, hit triple platinum, which makes it your biggest single ever!
Ahhh yes, Sia! We made that track so long ago! We grew up around Sia. She was in a Jazz/Hip Hop group called Crisp, and we used to go watch them play when we were kids. We sort of knew each other through mutual friends on the music scene, and she reached out to us last year and asked us if she could do a hook for us. We were like: “Hell Yeah!” She is classic – such a cool person.
It feels good that the single has done so well. To have it reach that many people feels awesome – especially since we took such a long break between albums. To come back with that is such a good welcome back for us.
Why did you decide to leak Let’s Have Some Fun on Facebook?
I was sort of twiddling my thumbs down at the studio, which is never a good thing. Pressure was recording and I had nothing to do, so we just jumped on and did it. When we were leaking stuff, the manager was hitting us up, because the label was hitting him up saying, “What are you doing?!” And we were like arrgghh! … hahaha. It was pretty funny.
I hate sitting on music. As soon as it’s done, I want to share it with people, and it’s so frustrating because sometimes you can finish a song and it could be years before someone will hear it. To leak it every now and then feels good.
It must be hard to back up 5 solid albums, but Drinking From The Sun has had huge success already. Is that a relief?
I guess it’s a relief to know that the support is still there and that we’re able to tour.
How did your recent US tour go?
The shows went really well. We only did 3 US shows and played 6 Canadian dates. We did New York, Colorado, LA, Toronto, Vancouver and a whole bunch of places. It was tough on the road this time, because we had 9 shows in 11 days across this huge continent. Our drummer had to head home early, because his father passed away. There was a problem with Debris’ Visa, so he had to head home. It was fun, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t glad to get home.
You’re kicking your Australian tour off in Coffs Harbour. Have you got anything special in store for us?
At the moment we will probably just be introducing a couple of new tracks off the album. We are trying to do something different with the live shows, so we will see what we can come up with.
Finally, if you could have dinner with anyone at all (besides me) dead or alive, who would it be?
That’s another difficult one! I would have to say Mohammad Ali. He is my hero. For years, I have had him up on a pedestal. He was a great fighter and a great person in general.
This story was published in issue 21 Coffs Coast Focus