Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
ONEFOUR: Against All Odds is the latest Netflix documentary hitting the screens. Tracing the incredible rise of Australia’s very first drill rap stars and how they defied the odds and law enforcement to bring their unique sound to the world.
J Emz, Spenny, YP, Lekks and Celly’s made waves by adopting the gritty style of UK drill music but adding their own twist to it.
They rap about their experiences in Western Sydney’s subculture, where young men are known as “lads,” “earchers,” or “eshays.” What sets them apart is that they are the first Islanders in this subculture to rap in an Australian accent.
ONEFOUR’s name derives from a local street gang NF14, and the year of their founding in 2014.
All five core members grew up in Mount Druitt, one of the most disadvantaged suburbs in Sydney. They all identify themselves as Mormons, and share in their Samoan heritage.
The group’s rivalry with 21District (a group from Parramatta) plays a big role in the lyrics of the group’s music; that led to the alert of the authorities.
They’ve been under constant police scrutiny for their raw and sometimes confrontational lyrics. “Strike Force Raptor”, a specialised police squad, has shifted its focus from outlaw motorcycle gangs to musicians, putting the group under intense pressure.
The documentary, directed by Gabriel Gasparinatos captures four years of this intense struggle, featuring interviews with the group’s manager at Sony, Ricky Simandjuntak.
Against All Odds reveals stories of cancelled tours, border issues in New Zealand, and frequent police raids, all backed by firsthand footage. Former Detective Web Wallace offers insights into the motivations behind the police interventions the group encountered throughout their career.
ONEFOUR gives their audience an intimate peak under the hood of their art, going beyond their music videos, it is an inside look into their lives at home and with their families.
ONEFOUR: Against All Odds will be released on Netflix October 26.