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Canberra’s up and coming hip-hop scene

Molly McLaughlin

As any Canberran knows, beneath its quiet exterior our city is bubbling with creativity.

Recently this creativity seems to be coming from an especially unexpected source, that of Canberra’s up and coming hip-hop community. Rappers Genesis Owusu and Turquoise Prince LTC were featured on the local Groovin the Moo line-up and the Canberra-raised Citizen Kay and Coda Conduct have charmed listeners nationwide on Triple J. Local artist Kirklandd (real name Dan Kirkland), who’s latest single ‘We On’ features Genesis Owusu, puts it down to Canberra’s small but supportive scene.

“Canberra’s an awesome, close knit arts community,” Dan says. “There are so many people doing what they’re doing who get so much support from everyone around them. Everyone knows everyone so it’s pretty intimate. Word travels fast and the kind of hip-hop that’s starting to come out of here is nothing we’ve seen before.”

Dan has lived in Canberra for most of his life. He has been writing since he was nine, but started to seriously focus on his music career in 2014. He believes his ambition is partly informed by the city and people around him.

Kirklandd performing

Kirklandd performing at ANU

“I think it’s just from artists seeing other artists pushing forward, it’s very motivating and inspiring,” he says. “Seeing others gain that momentum is really exciting. We’re competitive, making sure we’re putting out the best we can, but it’s always got that fun, collaborative vibe to it I guess.”

Dan cites venues like Lobrow Gallery and Bar and Transit as great places to catch live music in the city, and has also recently played Art, Not Apart at Westside Acton Park and The Well at The University of Canberra.

“Going interstate you always get that kind of stigma about being from Canberra, but I think it really just comes down to shows,” he says. “If your live show isn’t on par it won’t mean anything to people. When we come out with the kind of energy we have at our live shows, it reflects a positive kind of music and people respond to that.”

After releasing a couple of singles on Triple J Unearthed to rave reviews, Dan has been collaborating with producers to hone his sound; bridging old-school hip hop with contemporary beats.



“My producer Cam Bluff and I have been working together,” Dan explains. “He’s been doing some eclectic stuff, really minimalist hip-hop that’s also soulful. We’re taking a very different route with the music and I’m excited for people to hear it.”

Fellow Canberran rapper Brendan Baker recently cracked the Triple J Unearthed Top 10 Hip Hop Charts with his debut single ‘Simply Reminiscing’.

“For as long as I can remember I’ve always had an intrinsic attraction to poetry,” Brendan says. “So I perceive music to be a advanced form poetry. The ability to convey a meaningful story, message or emotion, with rhyming words, in sync to a soundtrack is something I find to be an exceptional talent.”

Brendan is similarly focused on supporting and taking inspiration from the local community.

“I am currently working on an EP that is inspired by my childhood in Canberra,” he says. “I will be collaborating with local musicians from a variety of genres and local artists for media design.”

While Canberra has always had a thriving music community the city is increasingly gaining recognition as a training ground for innovative artists, so keep an eye out for live gigs around the city and support our local creatives.

Feature and bottom photography by Michelle G Hunder


Molly McLaughlin

Molly McLaughlin was less than thrilled to move to Canberra a couple of years ago to study Arts and Economics at ANU, but she can confirm the city has grown on her since then. Along with writing for HerCanberra, she spends her time reading, eating noodles and planning her next adventure. More about the Author