Adelaide’s Hilltop Hoods are a major player in the Hip Hop scene and are undoubtedly Australia’s most popular and successful Hip Hop band. The group formed in 1991 and have released 6 studio albums since. In 2007 the group rerecorded their album The Hard Road, this time with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (ASO) and called it The Hard Road Restrung. This is personally one of my favourite mixed genre albums and I was delighted that MC SUFFA (pictured above, middle) agreed to speak with classikON about his relationship with classical music.
Why did you decide to re-record the Hard Road with an orchestra?
It came from working with a quartet for our performance at the ARIA Awards in 2006. We got together with a string quartet as we wanted to do a performance that was a little more interesting than just two MC’s and a DJ. After we put that together we wanted to do more. The composer who did the arrangements (Jamie Messenger) had a great sensibility for our music, and we’d always thought that strings and so on complimented Hip Hop really well.
Being from our hometown was definitely an influencing factor, but it wasn’t just that, it’s that they were as keen as us. The ASO were really excited about the idea, and everyone there was really easy to work with. We’re really glad we went with them as they did such an amazing job.
How do you feel about classical music and do you ever secretly listen to it?
I’m definitely open to it. I like all kinds of music, I don’t just listen to Hip Hop. I can’t say that I do listen to it. I guess the closest I’d get is something like Sigur Ros, a group I’m a huge fan of, they have huge classical influences. I guess I’m just not around it that much.
Who first introduced you to classical music?
My piano teacher when I was in primary school. I studied piano for a few years, a little reluctantly admittedly. Now that I look back I wish I’d taken advantage of it more and appreciated the opportunity properly.
What is your favourite piece of classical music?
I don’t have a comprehensive knowledge of classical music, so my choices are a little limited, haha. My mum taught music to kids though, so there was always some orchestral music around the house. I used to love pieces like ‘In The Hall of the Mountain King‘ when I was a kid. We even worked that song into the Hoods live show for a while there.
What other hip hop/classical collaborations have you most admired?
There’s a project called RE:GENERATION that I found really interesting as it involved one of my favourite producers – DJ Premier.
How has classical music influenced your music now and in the past?
Well since the Restrung project we’ve worked with the original composer (Jamie Messenger) a lot, and intend to work with him in the future as well. We just love the feel and the melancholy that strings can offer to a song.
Are you likely to classify more Hip Hop in the future?
There’s definitely more Hoods records accompanied by strings on the way. We’re hooked now, there’s no turning back.