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May 9, 2018
Culture

Brenton Torrens: From street to stage

He might have rapped about your hat as you walked along Hindley Street, but Brenton Torrens is not just another guy who thinks he can freestyle. The Adelaide busker is dedicated to his dream of a life in hip-hop and he sees the small city's streets as the right place to start.

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  • Film stills: Jared Nicholson
  • Interview: Jared Nicholson
  • Words: Farrin Foster

For most of Adelaide, Hindley Street at night is either a den of vice or a playground full of possibilities.

But for Brenton Torrens, the neon forest of Adelaide’s West End – with punters puking into the gutter, punching on, and putting on highly inappropriate displays of public intimacy – is his workplace.

Remarks

Film-makers Jared Nicholson and Scott Baskett from Run Wild Productions followed Brenton Torrens as he prepared for and played his first gig at The Gov.

The short documentary – which was funded by City Standard’s community of people who support local stories – is available to watch exclusively on citystandard.com.au, and is being considered on the film festival circuit.

“I haven’t worked any other jobs,” he says. “I applied to Maccas and they rejected me, I applied to restaurants that rejected me, but as soon as I started busking I got paid straight away.”

His regular scene is Rundle Mall during the days, and Hindley Street for its busy Friday and Saturday nights.

Amid the shoppers and drinkers, Brenton raps. He creates every backing track himself, plays them through a portable amp, and freestyles lyrics – often influenced by the people walking by – over the top.

It’s a slog being on the street day after day, but Brenton has been rapping there since he was 16. Over the past six years he has overcome nerves, disrespect, and the questionable behaviour of others to press on toward his dream.

“I used to be very self-conscious and focus a lot on what other people thought,” Brenton says. “I’ve kind of developed an F-You attitude, I don’t really care what they think because I’m out here doing what I’m doing and I’m not going to stop for another person.

“Sometimes when I’m rapping people get forceful and pushy – they’re coming up, they want to grab the mic, they want to rap too, and you know – I have to set my boundaries and be like, no – I’m the one that’s rapping, you can just watch. But definitely it can get more extreme as well.

“But, this is my purpose, this is my passion, my drive. When I wake up in the morning it’s what things can I do today to further me to achieving my goal?”

Earlier this year, Brenton launched his first album – Starting From Scratch, which he wrote, recorded, and produced himself.

Moving from the the street into this less immediate medium is a struggle. While on the street, between bouts of harassment, passers-by recognise his talent. “You’re spitting fire,” says one girl, on her way from one club to the next. “I love you, man,” says a guy who’s stopped to listen and buy tickets to Brenton’s first ever live show at The Gov.

But getting people to pay attention to his music when it’s not right in front of them – to buy his album or come to his show – is harder. People go home from Hindley Street each night (or morning), forget what they heard, and plug straight back in to the latest release on Spotify.

Meanwhile, Brenton goes home and works harder to get their attention.

“This is my life – everything I do is music and rap,” he says. “I believe I was brought into this world to be a successful and famous rapper – to be great, to be the greatest. I want to take this to the top – there is no other option.”

Film-makers Jared Nicholson and Scott Baskett from Run Wild Productions followed Brenton as he prepared for and played his first gig at The Gov. The short documentary – which was funded by City Standard’s community of people who support local stories – is available to watch exclusively on citystandard.com.au, and is being considered on the film festival circuit. 

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