Australia’s hip-hop scene is growing and growing each week, and among the new wave of dope MCs stands Sydney’s B Wise. B Wise has been gaining attention and hype after he won Triple J’s Unearthed Listen Out spot in 2015. Now signed to Elefant Traks, nothing is going to stop B Wise from quickly becoming one of Australia’s best (and best loved) MCs.
I first heard B Wise in March this year when he opened for Freddie Gibbs. I remember arriving late and not actually knowing who it was up on stage – I’m not sure others in the crowd knew either. His style and attitude were vastly different from Gibbs’, but that didn’t matter, the crowd was really feeling it. “We be on that, real, real, real shit,” the crowd chanted as B Wise performed Lately.
B Wise’s debut EP, Semi Pro was produced by Dopamine, and reads like a story of the rapper’s life. No Questions is a look at where he came from, while Smile is about keeping a positive head. Risk It All is more of a party track about putting it all on the line, while Drugs & Drama is a song about the temptation to party and not focus on music. Roll Call is about making it to this point: his stellar debut EP and a national tour with Horrorshow.
The opening track and first single, No Questions, is an introspective look into B Wise’s upbringing. In the first half of the track, he directs his lyrics towards his parents, rapping over a slow piano. As his life starts to get more intense, the beat follows. He switches from discussing his upbringing to music, thanking those that brought him this far, and recognising the love that’s out there for him: “Coming from the underground, now you goin’ see me around, know that your boy goin’ be holding it down, these critics and blogs they in love with the sound.”
And he’s right – No Questions is one of the freshest tracks on the EP, and of this year. I fricken love the production and the diversity that B Wise shows as a rapper right off the bat. His lyrics are clever enough to go over that piano, and ruthless enough to be spat at high velocities without pause.
In the next track, Smile, B Wise delves into the pressures and stresses of being an emerging artist: “Why the hell I feel so down, when everyone around me say we gone be on next/ because your phone bill is still overdue, and your landlord is still chasing you/ with more money going out than coming in, why your chasing a dream, what would you do?” But the song isn’t a down-on-my-luck type jam, it’s a track about smiling through the bullshit and coming out a better man.
Drugs & Drama is probably my favourite on Semi Pro. B Wise looks at the temptations and obstacles that present themselves to an artist on the way up. “Drugs, women, and drama, it’s all apart of the come up/ I just wanna make music, why we so far from it?” This is not a track you normally hear in the hip-hop genre, where most artists tend to brag about their drug use and womanising. “Glorifying money, women and the weed, it’s all a young ***** really need, and that was the saying, engraved on my brain, subconsciously carry that attitude to this day.” It’s a refreshing outlook from someone in the newest generation of rappers, to see them advocating for the genre to move on from its misogynistic, drug glorifying ways. It’s amazing to see young MCs just being themselves and not being afraid to call out the whole genre for dictating ‘how to be cool’.
“What you would see as a fan of music in the video clips and the lifestyle, you think, ‘oh it’s so cool’ and everything. But then you know if you’re in it you can kinda get overwhelmed and sucked up in it,” B Wise said to me in a recent interview. “You need people who are grounded to remind you that there is reason you do music.”
The last track on Semi Pro is the bright, layered Roll Call. B Wise holds nothing back lyrically, showing a level of dexterity and maturity in his rhymes of a rapper with years of experience under his belt. B Wise hits the bars so hard that when he proclaims, “I can’t wait to get on, someone pass me the baton,” you almost feel like putting a wanted ad in the classifieds (wanted: 3rd leg rapper to pass the baton to B Wise The Anchor). He sums up by rapping: “This is just the beginning of where we going.”
“I hope that they pass the baton because I have an intention to be here for a while,” B Wise said.
The final track closes the EP with thank yous and shout outs to those that supported him, and for the people listening to Semi Pro. This is the beginning of something major, and you’d B Wise to remember the name and peep the EP, Semi Pro. Grab a copy here.
B Wise will be supporting Horrorshow on their If You Know What I Mean Tour which kicks off October 12 in Canberra. Tickets are selling rapidly, grab them here.
Read our interview with B Wise.