Like all things a beginning must exist. Hip-Hop for Americans began in the 70’s and has been shaping the minds of generations ever since and had been moving from land to land leaving it’s mark.
In Australia, hip-hop spawned in the early 80’s and by the mid 80’s “16 Tons b/w Humber Mania Time” by Mighty Big Crime released by Virgin Records and Criteria Productions became the first Australian hip-hop record released.
Last modified on Sunday, 22 January 2012 10:44
Australian Hip-Hop music was primarily influenced by hip-hop music and culture imported from America via TV and Radio. Australian hip-hop began to evolve into it’s own shape by the late 90’s. Hip-hop now had a distinctive local style, and the genre is continuing to gain credibility in the alternative and underground music scenes.
Perhaps the first release of any real note was “Combined Talent” by Just Us in 1988. Another release of note is Knights Of The Underground Table (1992) by Def Wish Cast, which sold well locally and in Europe. Also in 1992, Postcards From the Edge of the Undersound was released by Sound Unlimited (also known as the Sound Unlimited Posse). Released by Sony, it was for the best part of a decade the only such major label release of an Australian hip hop act since Mighty Big Crime’s Virgin Release.
American versus Australian accents used by local MCs has caused much heated debate within the Australian hip hop community over the years, however there is an increasing tendency for artists to use their own accent and rap about things closely related to Australian culture.
Australian hip hop is a part of the underground music scene with only a few successful commercial hits in the last decade. Albums and singles are released by mostly independent record labels, often owned and run by the artists themselves.
Although still far from mainstream, in recent years Australian hip hop has grown rapidly in popularity. In recognition of the increasing acceptance of hip hop, influential youth radio station Triple J introduced the Hip Hop Show, hosted by Maya Jupiter (herself a hip hop artist), a weekly show dedicated to hip hop and rap. This in turn has helped to further raise the profile of Australian hip hop. In 2004, the Australian Record Industry Association introduced a new category in their annual awards, Best Urban Release. The inaugural award was won by Koolism.
The most commercially successful hip hop group in Australia is the Hilltop Hoods. They reached Platinum status for their album The Calling and in 2006 their album The Hard Road debuted at number one, the first Australian hip hop group to do so. This success was mirrored by 1200 Techniques, who achieved gold status with their debut album Choose One and established a reputation as an excellent live act. The Sydney-based collective The Herd achieved success with their second album An Elefant Never Forgets, featuring the controversial hit “77%” and the single Burn Down The Parliament. The Cat Empire, a group that performs a fusion of many styles of music including hip hop, has also found widespread success. Producer J Wess, former basketball player, also achieved huge sales of his debut The J Wess LP.
Obese Records is one of the biggest production labels within Australian hip hop. Their CEO is MC Pegz and they have signed such artists as the Hilltop Hoods, Drapht, Reason, Bliss n Eso and the Funkoars to name just a few.
In 2005, independent film-maker Oriel Guthrie’s documentary Skip Hop debuted at the Melbourne International Film Festival. The film includes live footage of freestyle battle and prominent gigs around Australia. Also featured are interviews with the Hilltop Hoods, Def Wish Cast, DJ Peril, The Herd, Danielsan from Koolism and Wicked Force Breakers.
In 2006, the ABC program Compass showed a documentary entitled “The Mistry of Hip Hop” which explored the cultural movement and popularity of hip hop in Australia. The film followed a week in the life of a local MC called Mistry in Melbourne and looked at the four pillars of hip hop breaking, DJing, rapping & graff writing. It featured interviews from Mistry’s friends, Maya Jupiter and DJ Kool Herc.