Straight Outta Mount Druitt: The War Against OneFour

New South Wales’ war on music continues with the police shutting down the activities of Sydney hip-hop group, OneFour. 

Photo Credit: Vice

What seemed like an outburst of talent from Western Sydney may now be facing extinction. Hailing from Mount Druitt, hip-hop group OneFour are the latest victims of Sydney’s war on music with the NSW Police enforcing extreme laws against the artists.

After being denied by multiple venues throughout Australia, the NSW Police Force has admitted they have played an active role preventing the group from performing in Australia. While I doubt their jurisdiction allows them to enter the music industry, Sergeant Nathan Trueman has also requested streaming services remove the group’s catalogue. Naturally, the Police Force was brought back to reality and their request was denied.

“I’m going to use everything in my power to make your life miserable, until you stop doing what you’re doing,” said Sergeant Trueman on OneFour.

Contemplating the use of laws that were originally designed to combat bikies and terrorists, the NSW Police Force are on a mission to outlaw Sydney’s rising talent.

Who is OneFour?

OneFour have been making waves on the Australian hip-hop scene, bringing the drill genre to Western Sydney. A popular genre in Chicago and the UK, drill music is a gritty genre that typically consists of harsh lyrics and intense content.

Racking up 30 million worldwide streams on Spotify, OneFour broke out with their 2019 single, Spot the Difference.

Putting on for the neighbourhood of Mount Druitt, OneFour consists of four official members; J-Emz, YP, Spenny and Lekks. Taking Australia by storm, it was only a matter of time before authorities became involved.

OneFour and now going up against the NSW Police Force in an attempt to break through the stigmas attached to Mount Druitt.

Strike Force Raptor

Photo Credit: Daily Telegraph

“Strike Force Raptor is a proactive, high-impact operation targeting OMCGs [Outlaw Motorcycle Gang] and any associated criminal enterprises.”

This is how the official NSW Police website describes the Strike Force Raptor unit – brought in to combat crime and violence associated with bikies. This is the same unit that is now being brought in to disrupt OneFour.

Sergeant Trueman of the Raptor unit pointed towards the apparent feud between hip-hop groups OneFour and the 21 District as the reason for the cancellation of events.

“Initially you had small acts of assaults, but then it started to develop and get bigger, to the point where we’ve now had public place stabbings, we’ve had drive-by shootings, we’ve had large affrays in the public eye…

If the Comancheros started singing a song and trying to call out and provoke the Hells Angels, and they wanted a concert, the public would expect us to shut that down” said Sergeant Trueman.

According to NSW Police, the force simply gives advice to the venues regarding OneFour’s situation, however Sergeant Trueman has admitted that the force looks to make financially unviable suggestions to venues:

“The cost of the tickets are never going to cover the amount of police they’ll need to try and safely run an event like this. I’ll do that for every event in New South Wales until the violence stops.”

The Recent Setbacks

OneFour have been maintaining an apologetic stance towards their fans due to the cancellation of their live shows. But the cancellation is only one of the few setbacks the group has faced recently.

Just a day prior to the presentation of the Aria Awards at Sydney’s Star Casino, J-Emz was slapped with an exclusion order. Issued by the police, the order banned the member from entering the venue until further notice.

“They could have served it whenever…They probably got news that we were at the ARIA barbecues and parties” – J-Emz

On December 4, group members, Pio ‘YP’ Misa  and Dahcell Ramos were sentenced to four and ten years in jail, respectively. The sentencing follows a pub brawl last year that seemed to derive from “racial comments, perhaps extending to slurs”.

During the brawl, Misa began hitting the victim, Anthony Hayward, with a chair while Ramos hit another man in the head several times with a hammer.

Following the entire cancellation of their Australian tour due to pressure from the police, OneFour had one remaining show in New Zealand.

On the way to their show in New Zealand, J-Emz was held up in by immigration and denied entry into the country due to prior charges. This resulted in only one member of the group performing at the show; Spenny.

Spenny, YP, J-Emz & Lekks. Photo Credit: ABC

Coming back home wasn’t exactly a blessing either. Upon arrival in Australia, the group’s manager, Ricky Simandjuntak, was handed an official warning. Simandjuntak was warned that should he have any contact with the free OneFour members, he would be committing a crime.

The police are now exerting laws that are applicable to cases of serious organised crime. Former NSW Director of Public Prosecutions, Nicholas Cowdery has questioned the use of such extremities.

“To see this sort of legislation sought to be applied in circumstances like this with a group of people want to come together to play music, that really is a perversion of the original intention of the legislation,” said Nicholas Cowdery on the NSW Police.

The Future of OneFour

Photo Credit: ABC

Since their inception, OneFour has been a glimmer of hope for the suburb of Mount Druitt. Often associated and stigmatised with socio-economic issues. OneFour seemed to be breaking through that mould.

Tongan-Australian writer, Winnie Dunn, has praised the impact of OneFour on the neighbourhood. “To see OneFour come to prominence by telling their own stories and really getting the nuances of what it means to grow up as a Pacific Islander in Mount Druitt,”.

“It is going to be really sad for me to see that if the police do win and stop OneFour from ever having a viable career, they stop generations of Pacific Islander Australians ever having careers that are outside of the stereotypes of being a security guard or being a footballer,” Winnie Dunn told the ABC.

The group now remains split as a result of their recent sentences, however, Sydney hip-hop is flourishing. With OneFour paving the way for drill-type music in Australia, it’s no surprise that New South Wales has been the state to push back against creativity and music.

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