As the ‘Oz Boy’ cover art suggests, Ides makes music about selling drugs in Australia. After a few years bubbling below the surface, he’s finally dropped his first project, and it displays a fully-formed style and unique musical identity, packaging witty and vivid street bars in a flamboyant, expressive vocal delivery.
Ides is among the best in the country with his wordplay and writing, but it’s really his delivery and the way he inflects and stretches his voice when he raps that sets him apart. While it never really turns into singing, his style has a natural melodicness and a wavy, flamboyant cadence that could only really be described as the Ides sauce.
There’s a clear UK influence in his high-pitched delivery, which he credits to the five years he spent over there. There’s also a slightly effeminate swag to the Ides sauce, and at times the cadence sounds closer to a moan of pleasure than anything else. It’s like any second he could bust out a Young M.A.-style ‘ooouhh’.
I mean all this to be a good thing. Basically, in this weird, inflected, aughh style, his voice is freed and emotionally unrestrained and he’s able to be very evocative. Sometimes it’s cocky, playful and unbothered – like on ‘97s’ – other times it’s stressed and paranoid. When he raps things like “ever heard a grown man crying cause he’s got withdrawals and you can’t serve more”, it’s filled with pain.
On his song ‘Raw‘ from 2020, Ides has a line that says “Big dreams get big love and big guns, nah jokes but I really done big runs”. It’s refreshingly honest at a time when thousands of Australian rappers are pretending they have a gun. As a rapper, he’s more concerned with the intricacies and episodes of his own specific world of dealing than the violence surrounding it.
Prior to this EP, Ides had more collaborations with underground stalwart Vinsins than he had solo tracks. Their’s is a relationship that seems to predate rap, and it’s allowed Ides to turn the heads of at least a few notable names. This EP comes on the back of a major co-sign from Huskii, who put him on his recent ARIA-topping album ‘Antihero’ and even gave Ides the chance to perform ‘Sydney’ – his best collab with Vinsins – during his sold-out show at the Metro Theatre (an offer not extended to any of the other thirty-odd rappers that were on stage during that performance [excl. supports]). Much like Huskii, Ides’ bars have great economy-of-words, breezing through vivid images and stories and finding many a slick, funny and original way to rap about his life and the world of drugs and crime in Sydney, with a keen focus on the little details and specific experiences. It’s about the scales, the baggies and vac-seals, the burning dingas on the stove with cutlery to test them, wearing hi-vis to a drop to avoid suspicion and transporting a whole grow operation in the back of a hatchback.
One of the highlight tracks on a four-track EP with four of them, ‘Trap No More’ finds a disheartened Idesy grappling with his guilt over a fluttering piano loop, watching the all-consuming nature of his work degrade his relationship and trying to find a way out of the world of stress and paranoia he’s built for himself. With the two harder tracks presented first, the last two tracks share a sound that fuses delicate samples with light 808 slides and finds Ides at his most open and vulnerable.
‘Intro‘ serves a feast of bars showing Ides can do drug-talk wordplay with the best of them, while ‘97s‘ is a tense but fun tribute to Air Maxes and the missions they’ve served them in, with Ides stylin’ in succinct, wavy flourishes on hook duty, while Vinsins and STUE carry the heftier verses (the latter shining with a verse that opens with him waiting before a meet with the goods in a Maccas bag, contemplating whether to rob the bloke he’s meeting if he doesn’t meet STUE’s standards for punctuality.)
Ides builds a world in his music – an insular, distinctly Australian world that would be completely foreign to most Australians. The closing track “Lose Your 20s” shines a light on the periphery of that world, where it overlaps with the city’s nightlife. Ides devotes the first verse to a mournful portrait of a girl who he feels is losing her 20s to her indulgent, coke-sniffing, party-girl ways much the same way Ides is losing his 20s to his stressful, drug-peddling, trap-boy ways. While a tad two-dimensional, it’s a vivid portrait of a life that’s very social but incredibly lonely, and there’s an interesting ambiguity to whether his relationship to her is financial or romantic. (It reminds me a lot of Danny Brown’s ‘Party All The Time’ and ‘Nosebleeds’ in subject matter.) The second verse finds Ides at his most open-hearted, mixing in his usual fun wordplay with more touching sentiments, like wishing he could do half of his cousin’s prison sentence after seeing the pain it brought to his aunty’s eyes.
It’s hard to tell whether Ides is avoiding the spotlight or if he’s just bad at promoting himself. I feel like he’s yet bring his charisma on the mic to the other essential mediums of music videos and social media for him to really make a splash in this day and age. With a foot in the scene and the attention of a lot of major figures to go along with a wholly unique style and gift with the pen, whether the industry pays attention or not, I’m sure Ides will continue to colour in his musical illustration of the world of crime in Australia, and whatever else he wants to rap about, for years to come.