At a time when hip hop culture is saturated with loud, overarching figures like Kanye West, the Hilltop Hoods bring a humble feeling of familiarity.
After all, the ‘Hoods' have been around for over two decades, forming in their hometown of Adelaide in 1994 and releasing their first commercial record, "The Calling" in 2003.
If you’ve hit any major music festival in the past 10 years there’s a high chance you’ve been in the hoodie-wearing crowd witnessing the three-piece sweat it up on stage rapping hits like “The Nosebleed Section” and “Clown Prince” and newer stuff like “Cosby Sweater.”
The highly adored group made up of Matt Lambert (Suffa), Daniel Smith (MC Pressure) and Barry Francis (DJ Debris) have had four number one albums, each time pushing boundaries and surprising fans with a refined sound.
In 2007 they released "The Hard Road Restrung" -- a collaboration with symphonic composer Jamie Messenger which saw them venture into remixing songs from their previous "The Hard Road" record -- with an orchestra.
It was a risk for sure, but the result was magic. Diehard fans would go on to ask the group whether a Restrung version of the next two albums they dropped was on the cards.
And so after three more albums, the veteran group decided to kill two birds with one stone by combining tracks from their last two albums, "Drinking From The Sun" and "Walking Under Stars" to produce a 19-track Restrung record.
On Friday, "Drinking From The Sun, Walking Under Stars Restrung" was released -- a project which saw them return to work with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra as well as the Adelaide Chamber Singers Choir -- under the guidance of Messenger once again and conductor Hamish McKeich.
“We had a lot more input over what went in musically this time around and we were far more advanced in the techniques. During the post-production mixing stage we also went in with a lot more attention to detail,” Smith told The Huffington Post Australia.
Along with restyling songs from the two pre-existing albums, there are new tracks like “1955” a song that celebrates the comfort of a small town.
The inspiration came when Lambert and his wife went to see comedian Dylan Moran who opened the show saying he’d always wanted to come to Adelaide because he wanted to know what it was like in 1955.
“That cracked me up. I love Adelaide -- I’ve lived there my whole life, but yeah it is sort of like that and when you’re from a small town it is almost like you’re stuck in a different era of time -- which is just fine with me while there’s bombs over Damascus. I’m grateful to live somewhere beautiful and safe,” Lambert said.
But it’s not just about breaking new ground with innovative collaborations and world tours.
The group have held a significant presence for emerging hip hop artists in Australia not only through their music but in the form of their Hilltop Hoods Initiative, co-presented by APRA AMCOS which gives one artist or band a $10,000 grant to release a debut album.
“Hip hop has been so good for us and so good to us that we feel like we want to give back. Apart from that, we’ve seen how having a career in music can change your life and we hope and want that experience for other people too,” Lambert said.
Drinking From The Sun, Walking Under Stars Restrung is out now.
Hilltop Hoops will be touring the album in April with orchestras and choirs in each Australian city.