By allowing their field of vision to span further than the dusty crates towering over Australian hip-hop, Melbourne based group Hi Trax has positioned itself up and over much of the talent down under. Consisting of producer RaptorHandz and rappers Joe Snow and Sinks, the group has experimented with rhythms friendlier to the maelstrom of the Post-Covid dancefloor, employing bass and fun in a way most unbecoming of underground hip-hop. Their latest track and video, “Enter The Food Chain,” released on Scratches Records, continues to apply the same pressure, bringing some choice guests in the form of Leeds, UK’s Dialect and Tasmania’s Wombat. It’s inspiring to see an Aussie group unafraid to dabble in 140bpm, a tempo previously thought to be way too fast to enjoy in the blistering Oceanic heat.
RaptorHandz has made a movie of a beat for “Enter The Food Chain,” dropping dreamy synths over garage-flecked drum patterns before introducing a weighty bass drop and eventually going full choral. The beat recalls the glory days of UK bass while adding something decidedly more Antipodean into the mix, a crunch which sets it apart from flimsier counterparts. All featured emcees are on the warpath here, nurturing friendly but ruthless competition and sparking a feeding frenzy.
Joe Snow ignites proceedings with a flow that skips all over the beat like a drunken master, somehow managing to maintain balance throughout while delivering some killer blows in triplet form. Dialect is something of a grime tour de force, having established his spot as one of the best in the UK. His verse on “Enter The Food Chain” is forcibly stuffed with his trademark antagonistic yet highly intricate delivery and too many quotables for the stenographer to keep track of. “One blow make a man fold like a matchbook/Couldn’t save a man’s soul if I had one/My eyes dem glow like Shang Tsung’s/It’s funny I still ain’t blown like handguns.”
Sinks brings a pouchful of relentless yet deceptively technical flows for his verse, issuing a stern warning to those considering crossing him, and delivering a convincing ultimatum. With the levels well and truly set, the task is left to Wombat to violently escort us out of the song. Any Tasmanian Devil comparisons would surely be unacceptably lazy writing, but some parallels are undeniable in his general approach to this track. He takes the already punch drunk listener and pummels them about the head with furious anger as a sort of parting gift. “When I diss, cunt, I never miss/I aim from the hip, got the hit, I’m taking the shot like John Wayne.”
The video is a loving homage to '80s arcade games, with all rappers appearing in retro graphic form as level bosses, using their lyrical and supernatural powers to best some poor sucker who pays a couple of dollars to experience crushing defeat. It’s a pixel-perfect Streets of Rage style recreation and complements the track beautifully, lending comic book violence to the overall package, adding some delicate shading and bold action lines. “Enter The Food Chain” is the first track to be released from Hi Trax’s upcoming 6-track EP of the same name, due out November 5 on Scratches Records. Coming out the gates with a smoking posse cut like this only bodes well for the rest of the release, let’s keep the heat going and remember to hydrate. Pre-order the album here.