On July 21, 2011, I had the honour of interviewing Hunter, one of the driving forces of the hip hop scene in WA. We had a great, long chat about his new collaboration album with Mortar (Fear and Loathing), the dramas of our beloved Fremantle Dockers and his battle with cancer. Hunter was diagnosed with cancer in 2009, and news that he has passed away broke this morning.
Towards the end of the interview, I asked (somewhat ineloquently – I was nervous) about the “best case scenario” he envisioned for the new album’s release. I was expecting him to talk about gigs, sales, fan receptions, that sort of thing. Instead, he opened up to me about his dearest hopes for health and happiness.
What follows here is a direct transcription. Hunter spoke, and I didn’t say a word – just listened. Nothing’s been cut out or changed.
The best case scenario would be that they discover a cure for cancer, and I’m cured, and returned to four hundred per cent health and fitness. Or even if just by some miracle, God sees fit to cure me… or even, to tell you the truth, even just if God just sees fit to let me get through this current chemo cycle and get me my strength back.
I want to take my son and his mum and my family, I want to take them all over to Ballarat, ‘cos we’ve got family in Ballarat. I’d like to take them all over there over Christmas, and just have a nice Christmas dinner – the whole family together for the first time, pretty much. That’s the best case scenario, obviously.
I’ve made some money from hip hop over the years, and I’m going to make a little bit more, hopefully, with this new album. It’s not about the money, but I’m saying that, you know, I’m not going to be working any more so I might as well spend it, and spend some time seeing friends and catching up and seeing a bit of Australia on the way through. I’ve seen a lot of Australia in my life, but there’s a few places I’d like to revisit, like Byron Bay – I’ve got friends up there…
I’d just like one more summer, to tell you the truth. I’d just like to get through one summer, reasonably fit, not too much pain and suffering, and then if I have to go, I’ve got to go.
My greatest wish at that moment was that Hunter would be granted such simple, unassuming dreams, and I’m incredibly sorry that he was taken from his family and friends so much sooner than he wanted.
Hunter was arguably one of the greatest influences on the Australian hip hop scene, period. Not only did he contribute extensively through his own art, but he fostered and encouraged the talents of so many others. He never stopped fighting an impossible fight against his illness, and the love and solidarity that he inspired is exactly what sets Australian hip hop apart from so many other musical communities. We’ve lost a unique voice and an amazing man.
Rest in peace, without pain, Robert Hunter. Our thoughts are with your family and friends.