Australian Voices – male urban youth travel The Hard Road

on the street

The Hilltop Hood’s music video for ‘The Hard Road’ provides a voice for young Australian males who have felt disenfranchised by the expectations of middle class society. Released in 2006, the album titled The Hard Road quickly went platinum and the song was the fourth single. The Hilltop Hoods are from Adelaide, South Australia and you can find out more at http://hilltophoods.com

The song explores the difficulty of growing up and traveling the metaphoric ‘hard road’ to eventual success using rhyme, similes and referencing personal experiences as well as popular culture icons like Kurt Cobain. It would be suitable related material for JC Burke’s novel The Story of Tom Brennan which relates the fictitious tale of a teenage male whose life is altered because of his brother’s drunken car crash. Tom’s family relocates to avoid their town’s negativity, and throughout the novel we learn of the choices he makes to recover his pre-accident life and sporting dreams.

The music video for The Hard Road is three minutes and forty seconds long and opens with a shot of the band at night standing by a fast food truck. The performance style continues as the lyrics explore specific events and the visuals depict males walking streets, gathered in groups sharing ideas, acting out situations and performing on stage. We hear tinny guitar-like sounds mixed with those of the street – sirens, chatter – as a female voice launches into the chorus.

meet the crew

stare down

another crew member

the gang's all hereAll three members of the group are visually introduced: Suffa, Pressure and DJ Debris, before Suffa and Pressure relate their experiences in separate verses. Although the beat and music is constant during the verses, the real instruments are the voices of Australian males telling us about things that matter in a series of clever rhymes and word choices that create a clear image of life. The first person perspective adds a gritty realism and references respect for family and music as a way of surviving their adolescence..

walking that roadSuffa says that his mum gave him many chances and would ‘bail him out’ and ‘Next weekend, bail me out, drunk again’ then his voice becomes muffled as he states ‘And I never will forget myself, For putting you through all that hell’. This reinforces his admiration for his mother’s ongoing support, and is further strengthened by the slowed musical pace that emphasises this moment in the verse.

chewing the cold fatPressure sings verse two and explains that he gave his life little value by drinking and being on a ‘path to nowhere’ whereas Tom’s brother Daniel fails to accept his responsibility for the damage his drinking causes in the novel. Pressure lists a number of activities that led to a downward spiral in his life, including dropping out of school. Alliteration is used effectively when he describes himself as ‘Been broke and beaten’ although he never lost his dream and, like Suffa, he thanks ‘his family and music for keeping me sane’. Both males demonstrate their mutual validation and assistance through the harmony and backing vocals during the chorus.

keeping it real on stage

continuing signposted motifTagging, an activity linked with youth subcultures, is animated throughout street shots suggesting recognition for those with knowledge of such activities, and appeals to the target audience. This is seen in conjunction with the re-occurring motif or Hilltop Hood logo.  In the closing shot as the boys walk on, a bright light plays across the logo in farewell.

the endless journey down the road

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