L-Fresh the Lion – fresh off playing some huge sets at rural Aussie Festival Groovin The Moo; has released his debut LP Become. A pioneer for diversity in Aussie hip hop industry, L-Fresh has not only created one of the most stylistically diverse records this year, but also manages to address racial and political issues through his raps in a hugely relatable way.
One of Elefant Trak’s freshest signings, L-Fresh The Lion churns out just as many quality solo tracks as he does epic collabs. He kicks off Become with some easy, relaxed beats on Pray For Me that suit both his smooth raps and Tre Samuels’ glassy R&B vocals. One of the highlights of the entire LP comes in the last minute of the track –as it welcomes a hugely funky keyboard solo, trading the melodic lead with Samuels’ now-scatting vocals.
A lot of hip hop artists will find one style, one rhythm of dropping rhymes and stick with that – leaving the instrumentation and production to carry each track and shape their overall sound. L-Fresh blows this stereotype out of the water – and even though he’s clearly comfortable dropping smooth, laid back verses; he picks up the intensity on tracks like Get Mine where your earballs will get a psych-up as he lays down swift words in a super brisk manner.
Takeover gives off a serious Elliphant vibe, with a building intensity in the synth-heavy production and collaborator Mirrah taking on a similar role to Elliphant in her crossover style of rapping and singing. Hold Up shows off yet another side to L-Fresh as he trades verses with fellow Aussie up-and-comer REMI, whilst accompanied by a mixture of percussion and horns.
Hold Up also addresses some of the issues that face non-white rappers trying to make it in the industry. “At gigs, some people say the stupidest shit,” raps L-Fresh – as he rhymes about leaving a gig only to hear someone yell “hey that’s a nice bag I hope there’s not bombs in it”.
Later in the record, L-Fresh reflects closely on his Sikh heritage, and his struggle to connect. Punjab, An Introduction is not is not only filled with the twanging echoic sounds of India, but also contains short raps in the Punjab language. He also raps candidly about his fight to learn about the true history of the culture he was born into “it’s been edited and edited til no one knows what’s up, so I never knew most of it when I was growing up”.
‘Become’ is out May 13, grab a pre-order here.
Watch: L-Fresh the Lion – Get Mine