Tasman Keith’s music is impossible to categorize; with nods to greats like Kendrick, Isaiah Rashad, Outkast, and more, it’s easy to see how he’s become a formidable voice in the new era of Australian Hip-Hop.
As a person of color in a predominantly white hip hop scene in his home country of Australia, his rise is nothing if not wholly significant; necessary.
The Australian rapper’s trajectory from the local hip-hop scene to the world’s stage is something not to be missed.
His recent release, “CHEQUE Ft. Genesis Owusu,” is razor-sharp. The two lay down verses so vicious atop a trap beat that it’s hard not to get a little riled up. The accompanying video is equally jarring, with Keith getting buried alive.
In contrast, his previous single “LOVE TOO SOON” radiates joy as Keith leaned into a different side of himself – the side with so much joyful pop swagger.
We were able to catch a few moments with him and get more insight into his genre-spanning work, his past, and his upcoming album out later this summer, A COLOUR UNDONE.
How are you doing?
Tasman Keith: I’m very well, super focused on the album rollout, and just doing everything I can to stay present throughout the journey.
How were you and Genesis introduced to each other?
Tasman Keith: I believe it was sometime in 2018/19; just being in the same scene, we crossed paths many times and always showed respect and support for each other’s music.
What was the energy like in the room when laying down his verses? Your verses?
Tasman Keith: My verse was actually already done. I rang him one day and told him that I had something for him to talk his shit on. He told me he had some shit to say. About a month later, he rolled thru, and the energy was actually quite chill as we were in my engineer’s house and couldn’t be too loud, LOL.
The session where I laid my verse was very much just calm and collected – that’s how I work most of the time.
Can you talk about this track’s relation to “5FT FREESTYLE”?
Tasman Keith: The whole album circles around different sides of myself, which I’ve grown to simply call characters. “5FT” & “CHEQUE” are both characters with egos, healthy and unhealthy. “5FT” was the introduction to the character, and “CHEQUE” is not necessarily the end of it, but the eventual control of it and figuring out how to live with it.
What does a typical day look like for you? What are you up to when you’re not writing or focused on music?
Tasman Keith: A typical day usually starts with an hour or 2 in the gym, and then if it isn’t anything to do with music, I’ll either try and read a book, kick it with some cousins or do something outside/ in nature. Anything that keeps my mind stimulated.
You grew up in Bowraville. How would you describe that time in your life’s effect on your music?
Tasman Keith: Bowraville is a town so far detached from any major city in Australia, so most of the time, the music we would play wasn’t necessarily Australian, with the exception of a few, of course.
So by default, it has led me to be inspired by many different artists. Being in a small country town allows you to have time and, I guess grounded in a sense, and all of these things play their part in my music.
Your last single, “LOVE TOO SOON,” had a much more pop-vibe to it – we got major The Weekend vibes – what should we expect on the upcoming album?
Tasman Keith: With many different sounds and genres, I just set out to challenge myself, and “LOVE TOO SOON” is precisely that. So I’d say expect to hear a record where the artist set out to prove a lot to himself.
How does your thought process vary between writing a song like “CHEQUE” vs. “LOVE TOO SOON”?
Tasman Keith: Often, it depends on the day, the way I feel, and how I choose to approach what I want to say. The differences I found between these two were just pop vs. rap. I was thinking about how people like to receive a pop song and how they like to receive a hard rap joint.