Returning with his hard hitting delivery and penchant for the grim, Tornts has just released his fifth album, 'Concrete Slang'.
The Melbourne MC is known for painting bleak urban pictures shadowed by domestic violence, police brutality and the underground. A self-confessed realist, Tornts explains the inspiration for the themes on 'Concrete Slang'. "Everything to do with real life, living in the city, the stuff you see everyday. Just looking at that side of life, really, I don't think that people really rap about it here.
"I just want to put it out there. People just think Australian rap is about a certain way, just kinda party stuff. That's cool, I don't mind all that stuff too, but you got to balance it out with real life kind of stuff. Coming from where I'm from, it's good to talk about that."
When asked about the subject matter and his ability to run with it, Tornts elaborates that he has lived in many places around Australia and often runs into the same recurring imagery. "I live in Northcote [Melbourne], but I grew up in a few different places ... (I) lived in Queensland and Perth ... I lived in a place in Tassie, emergency accommodation in a government sort of joint ... I think it's good to write about that sort of thing."
The album runs deep with these vivid stories, from the death of T.J. Hickey (2004 Redfern riots) on 'Shadows And Swine', to the dodgy dealings of a detective on 'Undercover Maggot'. Even though the album might challenge the mainstream aesthetic, Tornts explains he's just making music that people in those situations can relate to.
"To me it's not even really dark, I never thought about it in terms of that. Some of the beats I rap over, to me aren't even that dark. Seriously [laughing], like 'Rise Up' by Nebs isn't really a dark beat, but it's one of the more inspirational joints I've done for people struggling. It talks about, you can do this shit, don't worry about the stuff stressing you out.
"I don't really go out to make dark music, it's just that's what I write and that's how I am. If you meet me, I'd call it pretty normal music to me. Some people listen to it [and consider it dark], I guess because they listen to different dudes and production... that's what the deal is.
"You got to have all different types [of hip hop], I think it would be pretty boring if people made the same kind of shit, really."
One of the out and out storytelling tracks on the album, 'Traumatic Cinema', has a film clip available online that has received recognition for its portrayal of the intense subject matter. A tale of disenfranchised youth and violent ramifications, the track's string sections provide a haunting ambience while Tornts gets stuck into the script.
"With 'Traumatic Cinema', that's about kids I've known that have had to deal with shit... and what they would've liked to have done. It's like a script, you know... people trip out sometimes. I do hardcore rap, but if you look a bit deeper at the imagery and what I talk about, I've always done that kind of stuff. 'Traumatic Cinema' kind of showed what I can do in terms of storytelling... I get right into that."
On 'Concrete Slang', Tornts works with multiple producers, from the UK's Beat Butcha, Holland's Ciph Barker, to local boys Wik, Nebs and 2Bladez. Tornts believes involving other producers pushed him in different directions, revealing his work with Beat Butcha was more than just an e-mail affair.
"It's real good working with overseas producers. [Beat Butcha] just did a couple of beats for the Mobb Deep record and I actually met him personally in the UK. It wasn't just internet, I met him through [Brad] Strut when I was over there. I was on holiday, met him over there and he's a real good producer.
"You want to start branching out a bit and use other productions so you don't pigeonhole yourself. I still sell a fair few beats, but I think on an album it's good to have a variety of different producers so you don't just have that one sound."
'Concrete Slang' is out now.