Australian Hip Hop Culture Hangs In The Balance

In recent years Australia has been given the opportunity to allow some of the most current high profile hip hop artists to perform. With US artists such as Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Earl Sweatshirt, all being given permission and permitted visa’s to tour the country.


Australia’s own hip hop scene has always had it rough compared to its counter part in America often being accused of staleness and having a “lack of identity”, due to the origin of the hip hop genre being established in the Bronx, New York City.

American hip hop artists have a critical impact and influence on the local artists here in Australia, as the United States is home to biggest and legendary names to the genre.

By having such popular artists being granted to come here and perform it is highly beneficial, as it offers the opportunity for local talent to commence shows and reach a wider audience than they usually would.

For example, renowned US rapper Eminem held his ‘Rapture Tour’ in Australia back in 2013. Other big American artists also supported the show, however local Melbourne rapper ‘360’ was given the opportunity to be the initial opening act. Hence beginning the boom of his career.

However, recently Australia has been denying entry to artists for debatable reasons, which certainly raises questions as to whether it is really necessary.

In 2015, Australia declined and banned the visa of R&B phenomenon Chris Brown, due to a past history of violence in 2009 with his (at the time) girlfriend and pop sensation singer Rihanna.

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Though Brown had undertaken a “wake-up call” and evoked change in order to teach the youth about the issues surrounding domestic violence.

26-year-old Tyler The Creator was also banned from Australia the same year, due to the claim “his music promotes and glorifies violence against women”, which is a gross exaggeration.

Director of activist organisation Collective Shout, Carolie Alison, has a past of inhibiting the artist from performing in Australia since his first tour in 2013.

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Read more about Tyler’s ban here!

Having an artist get denied entry into Australia on the basis of a song seems very unwarranted and well, ludicrous.

Rapper and high profile celebrity figure Marshall Mathers, or better known by his stage name ‘Eminem’, has a strong history of misogyny and glorification of violence and yet was still granted entry to perform in Australia back in 2013.

Funnily enough Tyler released a new song two months after his denial into Australia and spoke about the connection between himself and controversial artist, Eminem. He argued the double standard and questioned whether or not it was a racial issue.

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Banning artists from Australia based primarily on the content of their lyrics seems highly unreasonable. Not only is it unfair for the fans but also the hip hop culture suffers. Freedom of speech and speaking the mind is what artistry comes down to.

By impeding more and more artists, it sends Australia’s currently growing hip hop reputation tumbling. Local artists are losing the opportunity to make a name for themselves and achieving success.

It has not only a domino effect on the culture, but also an unnecessary addition of prejudice to the already ridiculed Australian hip hop scene.

~ Timothy Thorpe

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