It might have taken five albums to build up his profile to this level, but check out his latest work on YouTube to understand why it all takes time. A video like Traumatic Cinema can seemingly change your outlook and point of view towards Aussie hip hop in three fleeting minutes. One of the darkest and most creative clips you’ll see in some time, Traumatic Cinema describes the life of a kid treading the wrong path. It’s creative, poignant and real. And it’s the artist’s life. So how and why the evolution? “Last time I did Zebra Diaries, and then I started working on this about a year and half ago. I really wanted to do a few real life songs; there were a lot of stories and it was all about making an album that reflected on life in the city. It’s got my usual guests on it and some really good producers – a lot of good dudes who have produced with Killah Priest and Mobb Deep; I also did about half the production on the album myself. It’s street and it’s really real.” Indeed, his prolific output has resulted in a deep if not well-rounded album, with plenty of content.
“I’m usually writing every couple of days – and I’m trying to record almost every week as well. With Concrete Slang, I figured out the best tracks and sort of thought about the 24 that I did. I narrowed it down to 16 to finish and I’m really happy with that. I’ve also got a bit of a concept EP coming up in about six months so look out for that as well.
“I just really wanted to do what I enjoyed. I set my own path and I wrote what I thought and what I was thinking; definitely my style has evolved over time and I’d say this new album is more about me. It’s more complex and it’s a fair bit more aggressive – it’s mad cold! There’s a fair few different styles on there and stuff like that.”
Listening to it, you feel the artist’s pain and joy – the revolving door of life it seems applies to us all. “Yeah, it does go into a fair bit of storytelling and I really think the production has evolved too.” And production-wise, Tornts describes the way in which he has approached it: “with every album I’ve done, there has been different ways we’ve done it. I’ve always really tried to get up to the same level with my production as they do in the US and UK – and not just in the Australian rap scene. I sort of think some Australian hip hop can be accused of being not quite up there, but I don’t judge. I don’t hate on anyone else, let people do their thing, you know? I don’t expect everyone to like what I’ve done either, so it’s all fair game.”
So with this album he has set about further establishing his spot, while continuing to carve his own niche and create his own legacy. “Your mind sort of evolves. I still like and appreciate music for the same reasons,” he says. “I love the way stringing words together makes this really cool imagery. I get into different stuff now. I listened to NWA and Ice T as a kid. When you got a mad tape or CD it was pretty crazy – now there is a lot of different stuff out there because it’s more available so it’s harder to be more discerning. I’m really liking a lot of the newer rappers – and I really like the new stuff coming out of London – there is some mad underground shit over there.”
In his own time, he still enjoys listening to a fair amount of music, and some from the US, dudes like Prodigy from Mobb Deep. “I also like French Montana and some of those down south rappers, but to be honest I can’t listen to a lot of the older stuff. I like the UK stuff because its more sync-based and I like to make beats the same way. I like the newer sort of sound and it’s the way I like to produce my music too.”
As for the tour, Tornts says they’re in the process or finalising the details. “We do get to around to Brisbane and Perth a few times a year; the Melbourne gig will probably happen at The Espy. I’ll be rolling with Bigfoot – a member of my crew – and in each city I’ll have a few mates to support me and a lot of guys I respect so it’s going to be a madfresh lineup wherever we go.”
Tornts' [AUS] Concrete Slang is out now through Broken Tooth Entertainment and Obese Records.