No matter where you look, you likely have 1300 in your peripheral. They’ve been carving up stages at Phoenix Central Park, Parramatta Lanes and the Enmore Theatre (supporting Genesis Owusu, the night the floor didn’t break). Their singles have all earned triple j rotation – and they’ve performed a Like a Version for the ages with their imaginative rework of ‘Gangnam Style’. Hell, even if you’ve just been stuck in a YouTube wormhole, you’ve probably been served a certain underwear ad set to their song ‘No Caller ID’.
It’s one thing to make your presence felt less than a year into your existence. It’s another entirely to maintain it. Enter ‘Foreign Language’ – 1300’s breathless, 36-minute debut mixtape – which should convince you the hype was real.
From their inception, 1300 have steadily showcased a multifaceted approach to modern hip-hop. This continues throughout the mixtape, producers Nerdie and pokari.sweat claiming stakes in everything from thriller soundtracks to 2000s pop throwbacks. A snarling guitar line seethes in ‘Undercover’, assisted by a cool-as-you-like verse from South Korean MC Qim Isle. ‘Payphone’ is a late-night rave that ends up halfway between the K-hole and the stars, while emphatic closer ‘WOAH DAMN’ feels like the soundtrack to getting a star in Mario Kart – it’s high-octane, hypercolour and will make you feel invincible for a fleeting but undeniable moment.
Comparisons between the group and Brockhampton have been inevitable, no thanks to their presentations as a collective, their flirtations with pop and their all-in sense of camaraderie. It even rubs off on their collaborators: ‘No Rush’ sports an Agung Mango guest feature with a shrill, aggressive flow in the spirit of Brockhampton’s Joba. The shadow cast by the boyband, however, is not long enough to loom. Both acts, after all, are innovating within a space that is not necessarily tailored to them, interrupting the status quo in their own ways.
One of 1300’s most remarked-upon disruptions is how they rap in both Korean and English (though, considering how Baker Boy, King Stingray and other First Nations artists who also perform in language – not to mention the global K-pop wave – how disruptive one finds 1300’s bilingual hip-hop is an indicator of your own listening habits). Indeed, hearing rako, goyo and DALIHART bounce back and forth across languages is nothing short of thrilling.
The bouncing, motor-mouthed flow on recent single ‘Rocksta’ offers plenty of memorable hooks even if it’s not your native tongue – something goyo is well aware of, as he boasts about how he can “talk with an audiences who can’t speak Korean”, in Korean. 1300 make eroding boundaries and language barriers look like an absolute cinch, as DALIHART makes clear on system banger ‘Shake It’. In his fiery verse, he describes the group as a “masterpiece in the making” in English, before switching back to Korean to continue the hype: “No one’s selling it but us / This feeling / You can’t buy it anywhere else”.
There’s a momentous feeling that comes with listening to ‘Foreign Language’, and that’s not coming just from its speaker-rattling production. 1300 have come out of the gate with a project that should propel them beyond their immediate bubble of Australian hip-hop – and possibly into the list of Australian artists who’ve put out the best music of 2022.
- Release date: April 29
- Record label: Independent