Jackie Onassis is something else. And not the Jackie Onassis which might’ve come first to your mind, better known as Jackie Kennedy, wife of the 35th President of the United States. No, from Australia comes a group of the same name. Based solely on the name of the group, there’s not much to extract. It’s a name that doesn’t pigeonhole a band into a genre. Is it one person? Two? Ten?
It’s duo: the hip-hop duo of Kai Tan and Raph Dixon, members of the down under One Day crew, comprised of groups Horrowshow, Spit Syndicate, and Joyride. The two members decided upon the name after meeting in a lecture on the historical First Lady and began making hip-hop that draws on innumerable influences. It’s a little old school, a lot new school, and wicked cool, all characteristics of their new Holiday EP, released for free and met with huge internet success. And with good reason: there’s something different about this band, as with other classic rap groups such as Jurassic 5, Bone Thugs, and Cunninlynguists. Jackie Onassis sounds different. In part that’s due to their Australian accents, reminiscent of Hilltop Hoods, Seth Sentry, and Tuka, but more so due to their lyrics. The EP’s opener “Smoke Trails” is a bittersweet account of being blessed and feeling guilty while so many suffer. Coming from a group that sounds like they could hit American Top 20 radio today, this is a novelty. It’s honest, reflective, and most notably, humble. In a time when hip-hop is overrun by bravado, a bit of humility is incredibly endearing. Coupled with catchy hooks and great beats that hark back to Ratatat-esque innovation, this is hip-hop at its finest.
Moreover, JO testifies to the power of storytelling in hip-hop, as evidenced by “It Goes (Uh Oh),” an ever relevant narrative about the awkward, ambiguous nature of college relationships. “Holiday” recounts the great uncertainty of today’s youth as to their role in the workplace and moreover, the future in general. “Crystal Balling” is highly influenced by west coast American hip-hop of the ’90s, telling the story of the pursuit of dreams. And it’s all done with a clever sense of humor made all the cleverer thanks to a sharp Australian inflection.
As it is an EP of only six, this review must end prematurely. However, the group has already released another EP by the name of Juliette and is beginning to garner well-deserved attention. While the review ends here, their career does not. It’s clear not only from their name that they’ve learned a thing about history, which should help them in the future.