CHILLINIT ON NEW PROJECT ‘420 DNA’, FATHERHOOD & THE JOURNEY SO FAR
Chillinit reveals his new mixtape, 420DNA, as the stacked undercard to his main event coming in 2024. “It’s Conor McGregor fighting Conor McGregor in a Conor McGregor-all card like it’s full on.”
The Sydney-raised stoner and student of the rap game has become one of, if not, the most successful artists in Australia’s modern age of hip-hop. When he released his debut project Women Weed & Wordplay, along with a series of BODYBAGMEDIA music videos, Chillinit lit a fire in the belly of the whole underground in 2018.
In the years following, the 420FAM General linked with Huskii on the 4 Days EP (2019), and immortalised himself in Aus Rap with three more projects – The Octagon (2020), Full Circle (2020), Family Ties (2021) – all having peaked in the Top 5 of the ARIA charts.
Chillinit’s tenacity as an artist and businessman earned him one of the most loyal fanbases in the country. In his music, he won listeners over with his, at times, vulnerable but otherwise lethal lyricism, the iconic “argh” adlib, and bars dense with references to Australian music, sports, and culture. From a deeper perspective, Chill and his audience are connected through their similar life stories, a sense of belonging to a wider community, and although not essential, a love for marijuana.
With his only verses being on his NBA 2K23 Court In Session track ‘Big Swish’ and his feature on ‘Rumours’ by Wombat, Chill was relatively quiet in music last year. Taking a well-deserved paternity leave to prepare for fatherhood and move to his new home in Brisbane, he made his glorious return in 2023 with ‘PAC ENERGY’.
Produced by Tasker with cuts by DJ IZM from Bliss N Eso, the single demonstrated a matured Chill with the same hunger that got him to this point. Accompanied by a Slippn directed music video with appearances from A.GIRL and KAHUKX, ‘PAC ENERGY’ was the first announcement of his next full-length mixtape, 420DNA, and his five-stop national tour.
The 10-track mixtape includes previous releases ‘PAC ENERGY’ and ‘Boys Light Up’, with additional features Nerve and Miko Mal. Serving as the undercard to an even bigger project arriving 2024, Chill says “DNA is like a classic rap mixtape mixed with a little bit of that new school.”
Before his headline show at Northcote Theatre, Matthew Craig smoked and spoke with Chillinit about fatherhood, business ventures, his evolution, and new and upcoming music.
Yo what’s good. Welcome back to Between Two Stoners, I’m your host Matthew Craig and with me, we got Hurstville’s favourite own – right here on AUD’$ for the first time – Chillinit. How we doing brother?
I can’t believe this is my first time. I’m good man, I’m good.
It’s been a minute. I remember the first time I came across your raps, it would have been 2016/17. I remember you and Talakai were supporting Ivan Ooze back in the day and Junor was like “You gotta check out Chill.”
Shout-out Junor by the way.
Shout-out the bro. How does it feel now? It’s been seven years, you’re coming back here. You’re a father now, national tours, no longer the support act. Do you get time to pinch yourself and go “F*** man. It’s been a big journey.”?
You’ve got to find a good balance. Like you’ve got to continuously be looking forward to the next thing. I’m always trying to think like, it doesn’t matter if I’m doing the best, there’s better to do. But at the same time I smell the roses all the time. To go from doing support acts to like 5 or 10 people to 1000 minimum in every state, international shows, you know, merch line like I’m wearing right now, the jackets which are coming out you know, we’ve got our Henny & Reefer bongs right there. We’re branching out into all different directions – Energy DNA, getting into fitness as well for the kids. I’m basically trying to start entrepreneurism as well as rap. So, over the past seven years, I’ve basically become a businessman and learn how to run this business and run this music industry – because that’s what it is.
What I like about that as well is like, you have this stereotypical picture of stoners: They stay at home, smoke weed all day, play video games, don’t work. But then look at Snoop Dogg, look at Cheech and Chong, businessmen like yourself. How do you find a balance between the two bro?
Like you said, it’s a stereotype. So people that smoke weed, and this is the thing as well, this is addressing everyone, weed isn’t necessarily for you. It’s just kind of like some people can drink caffeine. Some people have a shit tolerance to caffeine. Some people drink milk, some people have to drink lactose free milk. It’s the same with marijuana. Some people are going to smoke it and go “Wow, this really gives me a benefit.” Some people are gonna go “F***, this makes me anxious. It’s not my thing.” Until you try, until you buy, you don’t know, you know what I mean? As a businessman, for me, it doesn’t affect me in any way. But as a father now, I’ve pulled back on how much I smoke because I like to be present in certain moments and the precious moments in the early hours of the morning.
Fatherhood, let’s talk about that.
Yeah, that’s the best.
How has it changed you bro?
It’s changed my life. It’s changed my perspective on life. It’s changed what I want out of life. My son’s like my favourite person in the world. People say to you all the time “Kids will change this, kids will change that” and then you have one that you’ve got your little person and it’s like yeah, I can’t really find the word yet. I’ll let you know when I find the word to describe it man. It’s the best.
How has being a dad changed tour life?
It’s been difficult. So for the first two tours, we went to Perth, and so coming from Brisbane to Perth – because I’ve moved from Sydney to Brisbane and I’m now located in Brisbane – moving from there to Perth with my son the time difference was really, on his body clock, just not worth it. So coming here, my mother came up and is looking after my son now so it’s a bit weird leaving him. I’m asking for videos every 10 minutes going “Mum, where’s he at?” So yeah, man I’m a pretty involved dad so I like to keep my eye like a hawk on him so it’d be weird not having him around. But it’s also good to know that he’s in the comfort of his home with my mother, his grandmother.
You’ve got a beautiful partner, she made the trip.
Yeah, she’s always here supporting me. My partner is the MVP, she’s kind of like the rock to what I’m doing and I think that I’ve learned from – you look at the growth of Women, Weed and Wordplay and where I was with that. Being completely frank, I was just bra, I didnt give a f*** I was just f***ing whatever and doing whatever.
Then meeting my partner and having a family just gave me a perspective into what really matters in life and it was like a switch. It just flipped and then next thing you know everything was different. So like, it’s a blessing man. It’s changed and it’s difficult but like everything in life, the difficult things are worth it. You go through those struggles and you come out the side and now I’ve got a good balance. I’m a proud dad. I’m running the business, we’re launching more and yeah, the stars are the limit bro so if you fall short, you hit the sky.
That’s real. Evolution is a beautiful thing. What’s the next evolution and growth of Chill that we can get excited about?
That’s actually a great question because I’ve wanted to answer that for ages like Women, Weed and Wordplay, if you look at it, f**ing two songs add up to like 90 million streams right there. You know what I mean? That’s my debut. And it’s still in the charts for 160 weeks now it’s been in that Top 10 on the ARIA hip-hop whatever.
Yeah casual flex, just a subtle flex. 420DNA for me was a mixtape I wrote while going through fatherhood and discovering myself and what 420 meant to me as I move along to my next project, so DNA I feel like if we’re talking in a fighting sense, this is the undercard and it’s a stacked undercard, and then you’ve got the biggest main event in 2024 coming your way. It’s Conor McGregor fighting Conor McGregor in a Conor McGregor-all card like it’s full on.
UFC 300 headlined by Chill.
Yeah so DNA is like a classic rap mixtape mixed with a little bit of that new school. And then 2024 for me is gonna be my biggest, longest effort I put into a project for my son, for my wife and for my family. I’m gonna give it 420%.
Let’s talk about the bars, bro. You and I came up in the same era. What have you been listening to that’s been influencing the new album?
For a while I went through a period where I wasn’t listening to anything because I didn’t want to get influenced. Then I realised that as an artist, you can’t get cocky like that. You have to be a student of rap 24 hours, seven days a week.
For this album, I was listening to a lot of old school hip hop. I listened to a lot of my old music because I made so much music. I was like “Okay, let’s go back. And let’s hear what I was doing there.” And I was hearing, for example, a lot of wordplay, a lot of sick, sick wordplay. But I wasn’t hearing the substance in the wordplay. And I could acknowledge that with my growth. I could be like, “Man, this is sick. These bars are f***ing crazy.” Like I’m sitting there bopping, love it. Well deserved, every prop it gets.
However, I’m at the point in my life where I’m like, “Where’s the substance that makes me feel that? What am I saying?” I’m putting together a 16 bar scheme of soccer players. But what the f*** did I mean? That’s where I’m at with 2024, I want to combine that skill with that substance and I think the fans have been dying for that.
So DNA is like that little run of just here’s your bars. Here’s me showing why I’m f***ing that guy. And 2024 is gonna be a big, big project. Like I’m talking a few months in the studio locked away off the grid and just putting everything into it.
I like that ability to look back at a younger Chill and what he was doing artistically. What would you say to him on a personal level?
I’d say “Be proud of yourself” first and foremost because sometimes, I will acknowledge this as well – Just because you have fame or you’re rich or you have success doesn’t mean mental health isn’t something you go through. So sometimes it’s nice to just acknowledge the fact that the Blake that sat in his garage and wrote “Raindrop, drop top, I got Migos to pass the weed”, and thought that might be cool. And now gets thousands of people screaming it at him and he doesn’t even have to say it, he has to take that time and acknowledge it, to feel happy sometimes you know what I mean. But at the same time, you try to go “That was in the past” and let’s look forward to the future. So it’s about finding that balance, you know, but I would say to him, “F***ing mad cunt you’ve done well.” I’d keep it short and sweet.
What’s your favourite moment in all this bro? In terms of like, there’s the writing, there’s the recording, there’s the promo, the filming. What’s the moment that you feel most like you and feel most alive?
I feel most alive on stage like there’s nothing there’s no better feeling than having a crowd of people feeding off your energy and vice versa. Performing and seeing someone enjoying your performance, seeing someone on the shoulder going “Yeah!” Singing a bar and watching someone screaming the bar back at you and making that eye contact with someone like that is just f***ing legendary.
But however, my favourite moment or part is when I was able to surprise my mum with a car, like things like that. All these great things that happen that’s just the cherry on the cake kind of thing. And that’s my favourite part. If I was to sum it up in a metaphor, like a rapper always does. My favourite part about rapping is the cherry on the cake. Yeah, that’s what I like the most.
That’s cool. We’ve done a bit of talk on reflecting and a bit of an allusion to the future with what’s coming branding and product wise. Say now you’re a 50 year old Chill looking back. What’s the legacy you’re looking to leave on this shit, what’s the footprint?
Well, that’s the thing, I’ve always thought about that from the start. At the start, I just wanted to be the best rapper. I think every person who is a rapper starts off with the ambition of just going “I want to be skilled as an MC.” And that was just my dream. I just wanted a million views on something. And now we’re past 500 million streams. It’s crazy. But um, I’m really high, what was the question again? [Laughter]
What was my question? 50 year old Chill?
I would tell him to not smoke so much weed so he can remember this conversation? But I would say to just look back and like I was saying, smell the roses, enjoy the path, enjoy the journey and just try to just grow as much as I can while I can.
Let’s have some fun with it. Whose in your dream rotation? I’ve had a lot of time thinking about this, about if I could have a sesh with anyone – who would be in that room? Give me some of your names.
Okay, so J.Cole would be in the room. I’d want to have him in the room. I’d want to have Bob Marley in the room. Just standard. I’d want to have Kurt Cobain in the room, standard. I’d want to have Snoop Dogg in the room, standard. I’d want Rick Rubin in the room. And that’s a very left field name but if you’re an OG and you know your music bro, I would want to smoke weed with Rick Rubin and go “Bro”. I got goosebumps saying it, I’d go “You bearded wise motherf*****, hit that blunt and tell me some shit.” I reckon the whole rotation would just be like “Have the blunt.”
How about non music? Jon Jones?
Yeah, Jon Jones. Yeah, he probably pulled out a bag. So I’m gonna have to skip on the Jon Jones roto. The Diaz twins would be cool as well.
You know what I’d love to do – if weed ever became recreational – I’d love to just host a smoke out with the fans. I’d love to be able to go “Family, apart from the show, we’re just having a smoke and a vibe and we’re doing a cookout.” So the dream roto is with all of you.