By Kyle Hughes and Asal Mahmoodi
There is a new wave of hip-hop spreading, unsettling the established rap culture and replacing it with fresh sounds, fashions, and imagery, all the way from the States, to the Middle East, to France. Here at home in Sydney, young gun Vick Lejet is contributing to this wave by pioneering his own fusion sound, alongside long-time friend and producer, Thrillboy. He is a part of the Aussie Urban scene, a genre where artists don’t get a lot of recognition, with Lejet lamenting that, “people don’t appreciate artists in their own backyard.”
He speaks with the same smooth, chill style that also permeates his music, which has tens of thousands of plays a track. He’s all about staying positive in his music, and his social media feeds are not what you would expect of a rapper, filled with neon and anime music videos. He is a part of the new wave that sees hip-hop as being more about the vibes than anything else.
Lejet acknowledges that Australia is a particularly difficult country to make it as an Urban artist, because of its lack of hip-hop and r’n’b roots, like the States. Tied to our image of Australian music is hard rock, guitars, and beer. However, with the shift to online music and streaming in the last decade or so, it now means that artists like Lejet can self-release music on SoundCloud and Apple Music, self-promote on Instagram, and network on Twitter, all without big company support. Lejet already has an online fan-base of a few thousand, and major radio stations in the States, such as Hot 97, are hopping onto his tracks and giving him positive reviews. He is also being noticed by major industry artists such as MadeInTokyo, who has Certified Platinum records.
Many young artists like Lejet who are not affiliated with a recording company use the program FL Studio, which allows even beginners to be able to use it and customise it to their taste. Vick, also seeks out professional studios to record his work and hires them for a few hours at a time to ensure that his audio quality is of a substantial quality, not only relying on FL Studio.
Amongst the current recognisable Australian new wave artists such as REMi and Allday, he is one of the few that hails from Western Sydney, and his style simultaneously embraces and rejects that. He is proudly urban like much of Western Sydney is, but he also isn’t noticeably hyper-masculine like old school rap, and our mental image of Western Sydney, could be. He is comfortably himself, fusing pop, rap, and r’n’b into neon-coloured singles.
Despite online platforms giving young artists like Lejet a stage on which to get noticed, the payout is much slower than through a big-company label. Vick currently works every single day on his music, while also working at a retail job until he “makes it” and can make a living off of his craft alone. Many artists struggle to support themselves on their music alone, and this reflects a larger industry trend: the money is leaving music, making it harder to make it at all. Lejet himself isn’t too worried, saying that, “there’s always ways around things.”
Of his origins as a musician, Lejet has always avoided having a tunnel vision when it came to style. He dates it all back to a high school talent show, in which he discovered his passion for rapping. Upon meeting his partner-in-crime Thrillboy, he made the switch to singing in his current fusion style. Lejet says that, “we just wanna start something fresh, something original; I don’t wanna be doing the same thing as everybody else, I wanna take a whole new approach with the music and see where it goes from there.”
Lejet also admits that being an ethnic male of Indian and Afro-Portuguese roots led to a lot of bullying his whole life. Perhaps because of this struggle, he prefers for his music to have positive vibes that lift a listener’s spirit. He refuses to dwell on negativity, or let any negative energy manifest in his music. Lejet explains that, “I like to convert that to positive energy, which is how I want to feel inside, and how I want others to feel; I want to give others hope, and for others to feel happy.”
Lejet says that the new wave movement is sure to take off in Australia, and will be the “main sound” within the next 2 to 3 years. Of his own music, Lejet says that, “everyone has a different favourite song of mine, which is good, that’s what I want, because that’s how I know I’ve got a lot of quality songs.”
One trip that inspired Lejet and Thrillboy unlike any other was visiting Los Angeles, home to a similar big new wave movement in the States. The new environment and the opportunities it presented gave Lejet room for more innovations, more open-mindedness in his music, and a move away from the stale rap conventions that haven’t ever taken off in Australia. Lejet says that he “felt free, like we could do anything.”
The different rap scenes in the US alone all are inspirations behind his music. Elements are taken from each city, combined with a pop sound, and an r’n’b smoothness, to weave together a fresh flow that is sure to have his recognition in Australia, and globally, increasing by the minute.
Very soon, him and Thrillboy are getting ready to drop their album “2-2-3” that is sure to make waves. There is no release date however, because Lejet says he doesn’t believe in them. His music making process is spontaneous and unconventional, and he often surprises his fans with a sudden song release, while still keeping “quality over quantity” in mind.
None of his “superfans” actually know his full name, though. Although Vick is his actual name, Lejet is an invention, inspired from when friends would come up to him in typical “bro” fashion and say, “hey, leggo.” As to what his surname really is, Lejet says that, “my last name is too long, so when my Wikipedia comes out, that’s when you’ll know my last name. So for now it’s just Vick Lejet.” So, in the words of Vick Lejet, “stay on your toes, because I release music whenever I make it.”