A man in the music video sits at the head of a table inside a lavish apartment in the centre of Sydney’s CBD.
Behind him stands four men covered in tattoos and wearing diamond encrusted gold jewellery, with one of them armed with a baseball bat.
While this type of behaviour is usually kept tight-lipped for fear of retribution from law enforcement or rival criminal gangs, this crew rap about violent home invasions, drug deals, robbery, sex, prison and even homicide.
The gritty genre of hip hop, dubbed gutter rap, continues to see a huge rise in popularity, with local artists recieving tens of millions of plays on YouTube, Spotify and iTunes — something achieved with no support from mainstream radio stations and record labels.
Unbeknown to most, the emerging and raw genre of rap music was forged inside public housing flats and from the hard streets of the city’s notorious southwest.
Established gutter rap producer Nebs said the genre is the local version of criminal influenced hip hop, with artists representing their hood and using Aussie slang to rhyme about illegal activities.
“It would only work for someone who has some sort of criminal background because people can spot a fraud from a mile away,” he told The Daily Telegraph.
Nebs first got into the music genre as a child growing up in Toongabbie housing commission where he spent his early teens smoking marijuana, getting into a life of crime and making beats.
“Me and all my boys would get stoned and freestyle these beat tapes I used to make,” he said.
“Eventually my crime lifestyle caught up with me and I went in and out of jail from 18 till around 23.”
By 2011 Nebs had been focusing on his music as a way to break the cycle of crime and he released one of Australia’s first gutter rap albums with Campbelltown rapper Kerser.
The Nebuliser was such a success that both men have since been able to make music full-time.
“The youth can relate to the struggles and look up to people turning their lives around from criminals to paid rappers and producers,” he said.
“I think the criminal lifestyle of my houso upbringing really comes through in my production because I feel like I make hard and disrespectful bangers, but my recordings and mixes are world class.”
Hurstville housing commission rapper Nter — the star of the aforementioned clip with the shotgun and drugs — said his music and videos are not glamorised in any way.
“All of it is truth, I have no reason to lie and put out fake music. I have had my fair share of run-ins with police because of the things I express in my music. This is real-life where we come from,” he said.
“My fan base is made up of all sorts of people, but mainly those who have had a rough upbringing and people who go through mental illness.”
Nter said his music is deeply inspired by his troubled upbringing and was about sharing his story with others.
“Life growing up for me was tough. I lost my mum at a young age and never knew my dad until I was 15,” he said.
“I grew up living my aunt and she had her own problems with addiction. She still did her best and I am forever grateful. It’s not easy raising six kids with your own daemons,” he said.
“I paint a picture to a wider audience. People who are from this environment relate a lot stronger, but it also gives a picture to people on the outside, looking in.”
Nter’s blood brother Skeaz Lauren (Luke Greig) is also one of Sydney’s better known gutter rappers, having drawn experiences from his life of drugs, crime and heartbreak.
The 35-year-old said he has spent two-thirds of his life grappling with addiction and prison, having first trying heroin as a 16-year-old and smoking ice by his twenties
“The life I’ve lived has inspired and does inspire my music. I started doing crime and drugs at a young age and living life like that landed me in jail,” he said.
“I’ve been through life experiences that not every normal person has lived through or seen.”
Campbelltown’s Scott Clarke Barrow, better known to the world as Kerser, is the genres biggest success story, managing to top the Aria charts with each new album release and travelling the country playing sold out shows — all without any radio play.
“The industry tries to block me out and ignores me, I have to use my own avenues to reach my fans,” he previously told News Corp.
His key to success is engaging with and constantly sharing new music for fans on his social media accounts.
“I think the fans are entertained by the fact they can really see I am keeping it real from music to my lyrics to what I post on Instagram,” he said.
“I post what I want and I think a lot of rappers are like ‘my mum might see that and might not like that’, but I’m not like a lot of people.”
Newcastle gutter rapper TKO — real name Tommy Owens — knows the harsh reality of street life better than most, having been sentenced to prison six times for minor offences and serious indictable charges.
He has also spent two months in a hospital bed after he was stabbed in the stomach with a large bowie knife just one week after being released from prison in an attack which saw him have to walk to the emergency room with his intestines and colon hanging outside his body.
Similar to Kerser, TKO has managed to make money from his music by selling physical copies or his music and getting streams from his loyal fan base.
And while the Newcastle rapper is pleased to be gaining recognition for his music, he can’t help but criticise mainstream radio stations for their lack of support of a genre of music that explores the real-life struggles many Australians face on a daily basis.
“Triple J are bias grubs if you ask me. I’ve made three number one albums in less than two years and messaged them a few times, but never get a reply,” he told The Daily Telegraph.
“It seems like you have to put on some tight jeans or be an ass kisser. Some of my brothers and I have millions of views more than most the ‘rappers’ they get on and I still can’t get a reply. F*** Triple J.”
As for the controversial lyrics of the music, TKO said it’s a fine line between keeping it real and ensuring you don’t find yourself behind bars for something you said in a song.
“I wouldn’t say or do anything to incriminate myself. Real crims stay quiet. I might say things I’ve done but damn well knowing there’s no evidence to prove what I’ve said is true,” he explained.
“I’m surprised all these rappers talking about selling drugs ain’t getting raided. Must not be doing too much.”