Hilltop Hoods – Walking Under Stars


By Andrew

Reviewing a Hilltop Hoods record either gets you a heap of calls about sucking up or death threats for saying its mediocre, such is their following for better or worse. They have amassed an incredible amount of support across the world for their unusual style of South Australian hip-hop, and its no surprise there are words such as ‘epic’, ‘stunning’ and ‘critically acclaimed’ used liberally when discussing ‘Walking Under Stars’, but for this reviewer; I can’t help feeling something is missing.

Hilltop Hoods have indelibly and irrevocably placed a stamp on the music industry in Australia and played a prominent role in the oz hip hop scene’s publicity. Yet saying they single-handedly dragged the industry into the music industry spotlight as some reviews have said is downright offensive and just plain wrong. Hilltop Hoods have had the spotlight, there’s no doubt; but deservedly? I fucken doubt it. I have been listening to them since the beginning (there’s my qualification for saying the last sentence) so I know a thing or two and I understand Pressure and Suffa are very good writers; but have they changed at all in more than ten years? Hardly. Walking Under Stars is the first album I have seen from them that shows a deeper level of maturity in their production, delivery and writing but this hasn’t come from age, but more from having unwanted challenges in life presenting themselves with no reprieve – none more bitter than Suffa’s son being diagnosed with leukaemia or sweet as the growing success/burden of a full roster and label stable under Golden Era Records.


Yes I understand it’s a companion piece to Drinking From the Sun and yes, I understand its gravity in the landscape of modern oz hip-hop. Yes, I understand their status as greats and yes, I understand pretty much everything I say here is against the grain. But as every reviewer heaps praise on them for opening their minds and hearts, I will say this; why the fuck does this album come now and not closer to when they first started? In isolation, this album is great and if it was the first Hoods album you had heard you would no doubt think this was utterly award winning. The real truth is there have been more than a few albums in the past year which deserved that heaped praise more and several are debuts from artists who probably struggle to breathe in an industry so happy to ride waves of ‘Hoods’ oz hip hop circle jerks without a second (or first) glance towards their incredible efforts.

I do have to mention though, ‘Through The Dark’ is one of the most heartfelt and incredible songs you will ever hear and is testament to what struggles in real life can do to art in a man’s mind. It feels so out of place in this record, despite the sombre feeling overall. It really deserves all the praise with this album and I think that’s the real reason people are touting it as a standout album, but honestly its one song.

Walking Under Stars is a solid album, I will happily admit, but does it deserve the awards it will be lined up to receive over the next twelve months? Maybe, but probably not. Its interesting to note, that only a few short years ago, the Hoods were considered a serious thorn in the side of Obese Records for their apparent and obvious lack of commitment to the industry and more happy to make jokes about the label than to help build it like Pegz actually required. Now look at Obese. Stuck peddling Kerser which is a real shame and Golden Era, holding the Bart Cummings style stable of incredible talent in Briggs, Vents, Funkoars and K21. Let’s just hope Hilltop spend more time on their stable than they do their career long spotlight hogging industry water treading.


7/10 Party track-light albums {Abrasive Andy}