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Remi and Sampa The Great are Aussie hip hop's ultimate dream team

“It’s crazy, it’s never felt like this before. It’s been a year of creation and we can’t wait to show people what we’ve been working on.”

For local boy Remi Kolawole and long-time collaborator Sensible J, 2017 has been a year of creative exploration. With the release of 2016’s Divas & Demons both artists cemented their roles as trendsetters and leaders within the Australian hip hop community, and from the sound of things we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

“Life is good, there’s been so much happening,” Kolawole says. “We had a house party on Saturday night and we played some incredible music – now I’m just cleaning up. Unfortunately, Sensible J has some family stuff on so it’s just me today but he sends his love.”

As well as sharing the stage, Kolawole and Sensible J (AKA Justin Smith) also run an independent label out of Melbourne called House of Beige which is currently home to some of the country’s most innovative and fresh new talent, including Hau Latukefu, Cazeaux O.S.L.O and DJ MzRizk. “Things are going really well at the House of Beige at the moment. It’s looking like next year we’re going to have Sensible J’s debut album coming out, another album from ourselves and there’s another project he’s been working on with N’fa Jones. 

“We’ve had the pleasure of working with so many artists,” he adds. “It’s crazy, it’s never felt like this before. It’s been a year of creation and we can’t wait to show people what we’ve been working on.”

Up-and-coming and established hip hop artists have flocked to work with Kolawole for his smooth sound and desire to evoke change through his honest and original lyrics, but he says he leaves the behind-the-scenes side of things to Sensible J. “J handles the production for most of our artists and on his forthcoming album I was a little bit involved but he’s so talented I can’t really take any credit for it.”

Earlier this year Sensible J gave us a taste of what to expect from his debut LP with the release of ‘Fire Sign’ featuring Kolawole and Sampa the Great. “The highlight of my year would definitely be the ‘Fire Sign’ tour with Sampa. They were for sure the most special shows that we’ve done to date,” Kolawole says. “Not only did we get to perform every night, but we could just be ourselves more than anything. It was about coming together and sharing a closeness. It definitely made me think about music in a different light.”

REMI and Sampa the Great previously collaborated on ‘For Good’, the first single for Divas & Demons, and they’ve maintained a strong friendship ever since.“To be honest I’ve known that Sampa would succeed since day one. It’s not really a surprise at this point,” Kolewole says. “Knowing the person she is, I feel lucky to be associated with her. The way people are connecting with her is a real credit to her as an artist. I think we need more incredible artists like her.”

The humble duo will rub shoulders with the who’s who of the Australian music industry at the ARIA Awards in Sydney thanks to the success of Divas & Demons. They will stand alongside their peers in arguably the closest matched pool of nominees to see who will take home the prize for Best Urban Release.

“Just being in the company of such powerful artists is really something special. I mean, A.B Original, Tkay, Illy and the Thundamentals, you couldn’t ask for better,” he says. “Really, any nod of appreciation our way is always highly considered by us.

“But to be honest the most exciting thing for me is seeing what the people out there think,” Kolawole adds. “As long as our fans are happy, I’m talking about the people that download and buy our music, and come to our shows, and get something out of it. That’s the real reward – no matter how corny it sounds.”

REMI will be in good company once again when they hit the stage early next month to play the much-loved creative arts and music festival The Pleasure Garden. “There are some great local acts that are playing like DJ MzRizk, as well as some amazing Australian acts like L-Fresh The Lion and Montaigne – so I’m going to be fired up. I’ll be the first on the dancefloor,” Kolewole promises. “It’s going to be a great day hanging out with everyone and hopefully you’ll like what we’re doing.”

Remi will perform as part of The Pleasure Garden, taking over Catani Gardens on Saturday December 9. The lineup also features Fat Freddy’s Drop, Montaigne, Baker Boy, Opiuo, and more.