Walking Under Stars
Golden Era Records
It’d be a cliché to say that Hilltop Hoods have matured, but it’s true – there’s a lot more than the nosebleed section on Suffa and Pressure’s minds. The MCs are aging, and there are references to Christina Aguilera, Cosby sweaters, and a recurring anxiety about the amount of time it took to release this album (a negligible two years). Maybe that’s down to the sheer amount of stuff that’s happened to these guys since Drinking From The Sun: a relationship breakdown (Suffa, Won’t Let You Down), a child’s cancer diagnosis (Pressure, Through The Dark).
Most Australian hip hop is grounded in a kind of mid-’90s ‘conscious’ rap revivalism, and the Hoods are largely responsible for that. Walking Under Stars is firmly in the heart-on-sleeve skip hop mould, and it’s very much take it or leave it. The Hoods’ big strings, old-skool soul samples and resolutely Adelaide lyricism can border on cloying, which has a uncomfortable effect when teamed when very serious, very personal themes bleed into the album (‘We’ll search the night for shooting stars’; ‘Life don’t get easier/My Nan died, oldest son got leukaemia (fuck)’).
That said, it’s strong, significantly subtler than previous records, and expertly produced: they’ve taken and fully incorporated the depth of The Hard Road: Restrung and made Olympian orchestral samples a core part of their sound.