Onefour’s music tells the story of an Australia some people rarely witness. It’s an Australia filled with gang violence, death, and frequent incarceration, instigated as much by four-digit postcodes as by racial injustice and low socioeconomic backgrounds. The Pacific Islander hip-hop group’s stories aren’t new, but they’ve never been told, or heard, like this. And they use their nine-track debut EP to present a more fully-formed narrative than ever.
Against All Odds begins with the prerecorded message you hear when you receive a phone call from someone in prison. It plays three times throughout, a repeated reminder of the very real experiences the Mount Druitt group’s members are living through. At the time of release, three of Onefour’s five members were incarcerated—only J Emz and Spenny were able to complete work on the release from home and in the studio. YP and Lekks’ verses were recorded before they were imprisoned, while Celly laid his down over those phone calls from inside. “I’m taking you back to the hood, how much I miss it,” he reflects on “Celly Intro.”
Since their first singles were released in 2017, Onefour has held nothing back in their accounts of the violence, gang warfare, and police targeting that they regularly face on their home turf. It’s a tough environment, but one that only strengthens their pride and passion for Mount Druitt, as heard on “Home and Away” and “My City,” a collaboration with The Kid LAROI. Those dark themes hit even harder over the heated drill beats they’re best known for—“Better,” featuring drill rapper Dutchavelli and producer Carnage, is hostile, snarling, and deeply intense. But Against All Odds also makes room for more soulful production: melodic verses, piano, and strings counterbalance violent lyrics and gunshot sound effects on “Let’s Ride,” while “Leaving,” which scoffs at those who only want to hang around Onefour because they’ve found fame, continues the softer R&B vibes.