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Queensland Music Awards 2024: Get To Know The Hip-Hop Nominees

10 April 2024 | 5:16 pm | Ellie Robinson

Ahead of Queensland’s biggest and best awards ceremony, we’re catching up with this year’s Hip-Hop nominees to see what makes them tick.

PAULSN / Ozi Jarel

PAULSN / Ozi Jarel (Facebook)

It’s a good time to be a music lover in the Sunshine State, with this year’s Queensland Music Awards (QMAs) going down in exactly one week from today.

On the evening of Wednesday April 17, all the brightest stars of the Australian music industry will come together at the Fortitude Music Hall, celebrating the achievements of Queensland’s incredible suite of artists.

The list of nominees could not be more incredible, either, with the legends up for this year’s Hip-Hop Award including Nebzy (who earned a nod for his recent hit Thin Pockets), Ozi Jarel (for Uptown), PAULSN (for the Khi’leb-assisted Coop In The Breeze) and Sachem (for the Nerve-assisted My City).

Ahead of next week’s ceremony, we caught up with two of those four trailblazing acts – PAULSN and Ozi Jarel – to learn more about what it is that makes them tick.

What does it mean for you to be nominated at this year’s QMAs?

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PAULSN: “It's an honour to be nominated for the Hip-Hop Award at the Queensland Music Awards. Being recognised by such a prestigious name in the Australian music industry validates all the hard work myself and the team have put in. It's incredibly humbling and motivating to know that my music is resonating with people and making an impact.”

OZI JAREL: “Being recognized by such a prestigious name in the Australian music industry, like the QMAs, holds profound significance for me. It goes beyond personal validation for my single; it's about the ripple effect it generates within my community. This nomination isn't just about me; it's about instilling belief in those who look up to me and my craft. Much like how I was inspired by others, this acknowledgment allows me to become a beacon of light for aspiring artists, showing them that they, too, can pursue their dreams and achieve recognition in the industry.”

How do you plan to celebrate if/when you end up winning the award?

PAULSN: “When we win I plan to share the moment and hold a celebration with everyone involved in the making of Coop In The Breeze!”

OZI JAREL: “Winning the award would be an incredible honor, and I'm already envisioning an electrifying celebration. I plan to harness the momentum of this achievement by integrating it into an even grander occasion – my mixtape launch on May 18. This victory would serve as a powerful catalyst, bringing together not only those who have supported me throughout my journey but also newcomers eager to witness the unveiling of my latest project. It's more than just a win; it's a testament to hard work and dedication, and I can't think of a better way to commemorate it than by sharing the joy with my community through music and celebration.”

What can you tell us about the song you’ve been nominated for? What kind of themes were you keen to explore, and what emotions did you want to elicit from the listener?

PAULSN:Coop In The Breeze is all about capturing the freedom of living in the moment. My goal was to evoke joy, positivity, and a sense of adventure for anyone listening.”

OZI JAREL:Uptown is more than just a track; it's a vivid journey through my early experiences in music, set against the contrasting landscapes of privilege and struggle in Kampala, Uganda. Growing up in a well-off neighborhood juxtaposed with the nearby slums, I found myself drawn to the vibrant energy and resilience of the people living there. Despite facing hardships, they exuded a joy and vibrancy that deeply resonated with me.

“The song reflects on my time spent recording music in the heart of these communities, where I found inspiration and authenticity. While society may have labeled them as ‘riff-raff’, to me they were the ones who fuelled my creativity and allowed me to express myself fully. Uptown is a tribute to them and the wild parties and spontaneous joy that permeated our time together.

“Through the lyrics and beats of Uptown, I aimed to transport the listener into the heart of Kampala's nightlife, where the hustle and bustle of downtown life merge seamlessly with the pulsating rhythms of the music scene. It's an invitation to experience the ambiance of those unforgettable nights and to gain a deeper understanding of the beauty and complexity of life in Kampala.”

What excites you most about the Australian hip-hop landscape in 2024?

PAULSN: “I'm excited about the diversity in the Australian hip-hop scene in 2024. There are so many talented artists pushing boundaries and creating unique sounds. It's inspiring to see the genre evolve and grow in new directions.”

OZI JAREL: “What excites me most about the Australian hip-hop scene in 2024 is its untapped potential. Unlike the bustling scenes I grew up in, Australia's hip-hop landscape remains relatively unexplored, offering a fresh canvas for emerging artists to carve out their own paths and push boundaries. With less competition for gigs and recognition, there's an opportunity to innovate and shape the future of Australian hip-hop in ways that are yet to be explored. I'm eager to see how diverse voices and experiences will come together to create a rich tapestry of sounds and stories, reflecting the unique cultural landscape of Australia and taking hip-hop to new heights.”

What drives you, as an artist, to make each of your releases feel so unique and significant?

PAULSN: “What drives me as an artist is the desire to create something that feels authentic and meaningful. I always aim to bring a unique perspective to each release, whether it's through the music, lyrics, or overall vibe. It's important to me that each song carries its own significance and resonates with listeners in a special way.”

OZI JAREL: “My creativity is rooted in my experiences and emotions. Being a deep empath, my music reflects the richness of my life's journey, blending excitement and challenge into compelling narratives. With a motto of producing one song a day, I'm fuelled by discipline and a passion for storytelling. Writing isn't a chore but rather a form of therapy, allowing me to pour my heart into every lyric and melody. It's this authenticity and heartfelt expression that imbues each release with its own distinctiveness and significance.”

What can you tell us about your plans for the rest of 2024?

PAULSN: “2024 is going to be a big yea, from new music to writing trips and significant time overseas! I’m excited to share what I’ve been working on.”

OZI JAREL: “For the remainder of 2024, I have some exciting plans in the pipeline. My mixtape is the main focus, which I've been meticulously crafting since January last year. With 11 standout tracks carefully selected from a pool of 50, this project promises to showcase a diverse range of sounds and stories. Already, I've released two lead singles, Alsalaam and No Second Guessing (NSG), with more to come throughout the year.

“I'm particularly thrilled about featuring several talented Brisbane local artists on this mixtape. Additionally, I'm part of the Sound Afrik team, which hosts a monthly open mic in Meanjin. We're gearing up to expand this into a larger annual festival, so keep an eye out for the date – it’s going to be something special.”

The 2024 Queensland Music Awards will take place on Wednesday April 17 at the Fortitude Music Hall. Tickets are on sale now – head here to grab yours, then head here to read more about this year’s nominees.