‘It’s been the same objective from the start’: From Mount Druitt to the world, OneFour are too big to be stopped

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‘It’s been the same objective from the start’: From Mount Druitt to the world, OneFour are too big to be stopped

Words by Kaya Martin

In the upper echelons of Aussie hip-hop, no act has caught more flack than OneFour. 

It may also be true that no act has caused quite as much of a stir on the scene as OneFour. In 2014, the Mount Druitt group introduced Australia to drill, a genre of hip-hop born in the south side of Chicago and raised in the UK, best known for its association with gang violence.

Their music, filled with bullet sprays and bars threatening the opps, piqued the interest of some listeners and struck terror into others.

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Since the start, police have done everything in their power to make the group go away. They raided their family homes, blocked them from performing and even tried (unsuccessfully) to get their music pulled from streaming services, all of which was covered in great detail in the 2023 Netflix documentary ONEFOUR: Against All Odds.

But despite the best efforts of the authorities – and perhaps because of them – OneFour continued to rise.  

Now, OneFour is set to headline in Melbourne for the first time as part of RISING. Members J Emz, Spenny and Lekks will take to the Festival Hall stage on June 8 supported by Miss Kannina, RFA17 and LF70. It’s a big moment, but J Emz, dressed in a white Nike hat and blue zip-up, shows no signs of nerves.


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“I’m not scared at all, to be honest. If I was worried about something, it’d be the show not going ahead, but I don’t see that happening with RISING,” he says. “We’ve only been able to dip and dive into a couple club shows and stuff like that, so we haven’t been able to put on an actual live show, a proper hour set, so when we announced that everyone was excited.”

A decade since the start of their career, the upcoming show may be evidence that OneFour are finally too big to be silenced. They’re fresh off the back of their first international show held at The Lawn in Bali, where they sprayed the screaming crowd with Bintang.

Earlier this month, the group took the APRA Award for Most Performed Hip-Hop/Rap Work for their track COMMA’S, which has racked up more than 10 million Spotify streams since its release last February. 

“It was definitely weird being there, to be honest,” J Emz laughs. “It was a good experience to receive the award and that, but it was not our type of thing. We were grateful to receive the award but we got out of there right away.”

These days, the only thing standing in OneFour’s way might be internal dynamics. Despite reaching new career heights, original members Celly and YP have left in recent months – Celly being charged with threatening a man with a knife and YP stepping away to join the priesthood. But it seems nothing can shake J Emz.

“I feel like over time we’ve gotten used to it, you know? You can imagine our career’s been pretty crazy, so this is nothing new. There’s no worries at all. We’re just going to keep going, keep grinding.”

He says despite the changes and new recognition, the group’s end product has remained the same. “When we started doing this music thing, the goal was to better our lives and take care of the people that we love, our friends and families, and obviously the guys. And it’s been the same goal and objective from the start.”

 “We definitely stick to our roots because that’s what makes us us. I don’t think it’s impacted the way we write at all, no,” he tells me. 

Their new single, Natural Habitat, is evidence – in signature OneFour form, the boys wax poetic about backshots and caskets lightened with a few jokes (“The bars they be spitting, it sounds like they got that shit from ALDI”) over a beat produced by rising star Chandler Jewels. 

Although the music hasn’t changed, the culture around it has. J Emz says the bigger the group gets, the more it gives hope to other aspiring artists from the same scene. 

“I feel like there’s been a more positive aspect around our music, for sure. It’s definitely something I enjoy, especially for the young people coming up, the younger generation trying to make music. I can tell, aside from all the bullshit we’d had to go through and stuff like that, there’s a positive aspect within our music and it shows through our achievements.”

But just as Australia is finally ready to fully embrace OneFour, the group has got their sights set abroad. “We’re not really focused too much on Australia at the moment because not much happens here,” J Emz says. “If we can break barriers overseas, that’d be the main goal and objective for sure.”

For tickets to see OneFour at Festival Hall on June 8, head here