OneFour x A$AP Ferg: How ‘Say It Again’ happened – Red Bull

Here’s something you probably didn’t expect to see this week: A$AP Ferg fanning out a stack of Australian $50 notes.

Yesterday, Mount Druitt drill heroes OneFour released their new single ‘Say It Again’. Joining them on the track is Ferg, one of the stars of New York’s A$AP Mob, whose previous collaborators include the likes of Meek Mill, Rick Ross, Missy Elliott and Future. On ‘Say It Again’, he raps about Parramatta fried chicken joint Butter and uses the video clip to throw up a wad of pineapples in the carpark of a Western Sydney gym (New Dimensions in Mount Druitt, if you were wondering). It’s kind of a big deal.

Historically speaking, Australian hip-hop and rap has mostly existed in its own geographic bubble. While homegrown producers like Flume have worked with American rap stars before, we haven’t seen local rappers land collaborators quite this big (bar, maybe, The Kid Laroi’s recent track with NYC’s Lil Tecca.) Which means Ferg pairing up with OneFour isn’t just a powerful co-sign but an indication that with drill, Australia is ready to step onto the global stage.

So just how did OneFour score what might be the biggest collaboration in Australian rap history? To find out, we called OneFour’s manager Ricky Simandjuntak.

So how did the collaboration happen?

It was unexpected, it’s not something that went through labels or anything like that. Hau [Latukefu, host of The Hip-Hop Show on triple j] connected us because Ferg did an interview on Hau’s show and the conversation came naturally to music coming out of Australia and One Four. Ferg had heard some stuff about us, he reached out and asked if we could meet. At that time the boys were still out in Mount Druitt so we thought it would be better to get him in our studio in Chinatown.

Wow, so he reached out to you?

He reached out through his manager. He came through at about 9.30 at night after finishing promo stuff and you could tell he was tired but he wanted to be there. I think for the boys, this is very new for them — the attention they’re getting, and people wanting to come and meet them. So you can see they’re still feeling their way through it.

They ended up exchanging a bit of music; Ferg asked to hear some more of the boys’ stuff. We showed him that track and you could tell instantly he was drawn to the energy of the song. The song is about being the fire, no matter how much the odds are stacked against you. It connected with Ferg and he wanted to put his own spin on it. I think it was no more than an hour and we’d finished the verse.

For the boys, this is very new for them — the attention they’re getting, and people wanting to come and meet them

Then he was like, ‘I want to shoot the clip. But we have to shoot it tomorrow because I’m leaving the next day’. I think Ferg came out after he finished soundcheck for his show that night, did his part and went onto Parramatta to do an in-store [appearance] at Culture Kings and then his concert later on that night. So it was a huge look-in to see not only his work ethic but making the most of every minute, even when you’re overseas. And even the commitment to drive out to Mount Druitt, an hour away, and make the effort for people you’ve only just met.

When did this all happen?

March 3, right before coronavirus really locked us down. It had just become a serious thing, we were talking like ‘how bad do you think this coronavirus thing is going to get?’ — that’s why he references it in the song. We were thinking it was all a bit of an overreaction then Ferg flew out and right after, they closed the airport.

What’d Ferg think of Mount Druitt?

He didn’t really get to see much of it, other than the drive into there. But I think it completed the story for him. He can see first hand what OneFour look like, what the neighbourhood looks like, how multicultural it was. He could draw comparisons between himself growing up in Harlem and feeling like all these kids from different backgrounds are coming together to listen to music. When A$AP Mob first started, they were so different from the New York sound. Different style, different visuals… I think Ferg understood that this is a different picture of Australian society.

I think Ferg understood that this is a different picture of Australian society

What’s the appetite like for drill in the US right now? Did Ferg know that music much before Hau showed it to him?

Drill’s original roots are in Chicago and then the UK adopted the sound. But New York is the epicentre of where that UK sound is; a lot of the producers are working out of New York. So it’s kind of a debate at the moment between the UK and the US, between the original grime guys and drill guys — like, ‘they’re taking the sound but they’re not paying homage’. The producer we used, Gotcha, he’s from the UK and he’s been with us a while. So on this song we’ve got the UK, we’ve got Mount Druitt and we’ve got Harlem, which is where Ferg is from. We reach between these three cities making a very similar sound.

Are the guys excited to have Ferg on a track? That must feel super big?

Oh, it’s crazy. That was huge for us, also huge for Western Sydney.