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A 22-year-old sort-of-Daniel-Johns lookalike from Melbourne may not seem like the most likely Australian hip hop artist to crack the big time overseas but, if his debut album is anything to go by, Allday could be the first to do so.
Startup Cult isn’t your average Aussie hip-hop record. In fact apart from the accent, it’s almost devoid of any connection to home-grown hip-hop, instead taking cues from rappers like Drake, Future and Kanye West.
Tom Gaynor (a.k.a. Allday) has amassed a strong cult following on social media and in many ways Startup Cult sounds like his manifesto for youth. The 15-track effort focuses firmly on drinking, girls, drugs, aspirations and music, delivered with a youthful arrogance.
While Anything But Sober, Fuckin’ and Milligrams successfully portray Allday drunk and high, it’s the aspirational side of Startup Cult that resonates the best, with an “anything is possible” motif running through the album.
On Wolves he raps, “How can I be Jay Z?” over a bold instrumental while recalling “vibing on those videos thinking I’m rich”. He demonstrates a way of talking himself up, while also keeping himself on the level of the listener.
The biggest inspiration on the record appears to be Drake. Allday effortlessly fluctuates between singing and rapping just like his Canadian counterpart on tracks like Taking Hold and You Always Know The DJ. The latter even sounds inspired by the deep-house styling that featured on Drake’s Hold On We’re Coming Home.
Watch: Allday – You Always Know The DJ
It may sound as if Allday is a rip-off but that’s not the case. It’s more than Drake’s sound. It’s one that is permeating contemporary, North-American hip-hop right now and Allday cites it with such ease. His beats are sparse, his synths are warm and his short trips into R&B territory add finessed melody.
Album opener, Got It, is the most successful at this. It’s an understated statement of triumph delivered by mellow synths, a crisp beat and a laid-back flow. He’s also at his lyrical best here coupling hyperbolic lines like “I can literally rap forever” with an injection of humour, rapping “I can’t help thinking that this is my destiny like Bey, Kelly and the other one”.
On album closer, Find Me, he raps “money without love is not appealing”. To this point, Allday’s career has been driven by his fast-growing ‘cult’ and he sounds overly appreciative of that throughout the whole record.
Startup Cult works because it sounds genuine. Allday has constructed a sound that’s modern and on-trend, a believable, youthful and — beyond the occasional muscle-flex — humble narrative.
‘Startup Cult’ is available now.
Listen: Allday – Cult