The winner of triple j‘s 2023 Unearthed High competition has officially been crowned. 15-year-old rapper LEE. from the Australian Christian College on Dharug Land in Greater Western Sydney has taken out this year’s coveted title.
The rising hip-hop star impressed the Unearthed team with his first official single, ‘UP’, which has drawn widespread comparisons to the likes of international superstar and Unearthed High alum, The Kid Laroi.
“LEE. turned the volume all the way UP in Unearthed High 2023, and it’s that exciting energy and potential in this melodic hip hop package that’s made him rise above in a very competitive group of finalists,” triple j Unearthed Music Director Dave Ruby Howe said today in a press statement. “We know how big this sound is around the world right now, and LEE. very much feels like an artist with a global-facing future. “
He continued: “Years from now, scientists might try and bottle LEE.’s sky-high charisma for mass production but right now, we’ve got a killer track from a hugely talented artist – and a new Unearthed High champion to celebrate.”
After listening to thousands of demos uploaded by high school-aged artists across the country, Dave and the team at Unearthed whittled down this year’s list to just five talented finalists, including Perth indie-pop artist Elianie, Brisbane’s ixaras (also a purveyor of indie-pop), Melbourne songwriter Lotte Gallagher and Melbourne bedroom producer REDD.
But ultimately, LEE. stole the crown, and in doing so has scored funding to help professionally record his next single, along with mentorship from experts in the field and, of course, national recognition and airplay on the youth music station mothership, triple j.
Watch the very wholesome video of triple j Breakfast presenters Bryce and Concetta sneaking into LEE.’s school to break the good news, up above.