Few names if any hold the legacy in Australia for the stamp of quality that Unkut Recordings does. Since its founding in 1997 by Rob Nat of Unkut.com and Trem of Lyrical Commission, it has developed into the epitome of its tagline – quality over quantity. While the broad fan base may at times be hanging for a new Unkut release, once it is delivered it has always proven to be raw dope. Held with the utmost respect by all, somewhat your favorite rappers most respected label, it has been responsible for not only arguably the greatest group album release ever but also several classic solo releases that are timeless classics.
The Unkut Recordings story was born out of Rob Nat’s fledgling Unkut Productions in 1996 and became formalized the year after in the lead up to the debut Sheer Talent EP from Trem. The excellent 4-track 12” release was followed up with the year after in 1999 with Trem’s Amateurs and served to cement both Trem’s and Unkut’s position as in a then still-developing Hip-Hop landscape in Australia at the time.
The following year saw Rob Nat release A Night On The Tiles, proving to be his most substantial solo release and now a highly sort after classic nationally. The label’s close working relationship to Melbourne’s legendary Nuffsaid Recordings provided them with a quality stamp of approval even before the music was played at a time when relationships were about quality control over industry favors. Coupled with significant notable features, live shows, radio appearances, crushing open mics and the sorts, Unkut forged their own path when there really was none and created their own brand.
A couple of years hiatus until the next release resulted in December 2002’s The Stage Is Set by Lyrical Commission. A super-group of sorts, the new group saw the bringing together of Melbourne’s two leading solo emcees in Brad Strut and Trem with Bob Balans (of The Formulators duo previously with Rob Nat) plus arguably Australia’s greatest ever hip-hop DJ in DJ J-Red. The result of these four coming together was what many consider as the greatest hip hop album ever to be released from Australia.
Going from strength to strength, Unkut put out Terntable Jediz classic August 2004 album All Out War before following up the next year with Lyrical Commission’s highly anticipated next chapter with their “Murderous Metaphors” 2005 EP. This release was internationally notable for containing features from Brooklyn’s Q-Unique (of The Arsonists) and Celph Titled of The Demigodz, along with the overall quality again proving to be much more than a good release hip hop from Australia, but of such quality as a great Hip-Hop release full stop. This would in retrospect prove to be a key feature of the Unkut story, that they were bringing Hip-Hop in all its aspects to the fullest quality that could hang on any stage worldwide.
The next release would be Brad Strut’s long-awaited sophomore LP Legend: Official that dropped in June 2007. The first track for this classic solo release was the three-minute heater diss-track “Monopoly” produced by Prowla and aimed largely at Obese Records, widely regarded as the best diss track from Australia Ala Ice Cube’s “No Vaseline.”
This 16-track release from Strut was a classic from start to finish, featuring Philadelphia’s Outerspace and Brooklyn’s late and great Sean Price (RIP) of Boot Camp Clik / Random Axe and a wealth of the usual Unkut suspects. Following the reissue release of Strut’s classic 2001 debut album The Authentic LP, Brad Strut released the substantial double-disc The Fallout Shelter EP, which featured a Remix disc from a somewhat who’s who of Australian producers.
Following this, all eyes turned to the most highly anticipated Hip-Hop release in Australia ever in Trem’s debut full solo album in 2011’s For The Term Of His Natural Life and it even exceeded the lofty expectations surrounding it by all. The 18-track release is the solo release of the last decade from Australia and featured DJ Revolution, long-time collaborator Q-Unique and a who’s who of Hip-Hop legends from Australia. The award-winning accompanying visuals completed the entire roll-out, with the video filmography team of FULL CLIP showcasing why they are widely considered as the best in the business down under.
Following a string of monumental releases in a rapidly changing musical landscape, Unkut Recordings seemingly took a bit of a break until the signing of Brisbane group Kings Konekted. K-Double proceeded to drop the Hip-Hop album of the year in 2015 in their debut LP on Unkut Recordings in Value Of Adaption. Superbly crafted from start to finish, the release was arguably the most polished product to have been released from Australasia since Trem’s 2011 debut solo album.
Fans of Unkut Recordings can look forward to new releases coming from the Kings Konekted camp, L-Flows and possibly more in the short-term. The wait is always worth it, so get familiar with Unkut Recordings extensive back catalog in the meantime to hear some of the best music Australia has offered over the last two decades. Quality over Quantity.