As a nation, we listen to the Hottest 100 with certain expectations. I expect triple j‘s breakfast team to take me through the final 20. I expect to be urged to donate money to a worthy cause, like AIME (do it, buy a shirt for AIME). I expect an endless series of calls to Aussie musos on tour overseas who have cracked the top ten – they get out of bed just to chat and are then asked about the “vibe” there: there is no vibe, they were asleep in a hotel and now they are awake in one.
And we also expect the winner of the countdown to get on the phone and gush about how pleased they are to top the countdown that they have definitely heard of before.
But this year, there was no bants. There was no interview with Hottest 100 winner Kendrick Lamar at all. As Ben Harvey and Liam Stapleton prepared to reveal HUMBLE as the single of the year, Gang Of Youths had just come off the phone, and they were stoked to appear in the countdown four times, including three in the top ten.
It’s easy enough to get an Australian winner onto the phone, but an international act? There’s a historical precedent for them being involved: the last time the winner was not an Aussie was Macklemore and Ryan Lewis for Thrift Shop in 2012, and Macklemore hopped on the line to tell Tom Ballard and Alex Dyson his win was “very overwhelming and awesome“. And back in 2009, when Mumford & Sons proved victorious – except everybody already knew that because the Feb edition of Jmag being advertised online said as much – they came into the studio to perform Little Lion Man live on air.
But nothing from our boy Kendrick Lamar. Why the snub?
Well, it’s not much of a snub – Lamar is after all notoriously publicity-shy. To be frank the bloke just doesn’t need it. He steers clear of most media interviews, instead opting only for the odd massive chat, like with Dave Chapelle for Interview Mag or Zane Lowe on Beats 1.
Even when he toured Aus in 2016 he didn’t pop into the national broadcaster. And all my internet sleuthing has come up short for interviews with any Aussie outlet ever, aside from a 2012 chat with Acclaim.
The bloke is elusive like Beyoncé: good luck scoring an interview, and if you manage it, it’ll be reproduced in infinite directions by the entire media world.
And that’s what happens when you’re as private as Lamar – he rarely tells the media about personal life at all – you let the music speak for ya.