HISTORY OF HIP HOP IN AUSTRALIA

compiled by Dj Defenda


******   ARTICLE IN PROGRESS   ******

Apologies for any errors, omissions or incomplete information, this is being updated regularly.


This page is an Interactive Time-Line – most sections will allow you to click on the ‘info’ button for more information, video & audio tracks as well as links to associated Artists

Australian hip hop music began in the early 1980s; originally it was primarily influenced by hip hop music and culture imported via radio and television from the United States of America. However,since the 1990s,a distinctive local style has developed. Australian hip hop is an underground music scene with only a few commercial hits in the last decade. Albums and singles are released by mostly independent record labels,often owned and run by the artists themselves.

The first hip hop recording was the relatively mainstream 1980 pop release ‘Rapper’s delight’ by
the African-American Sugarhill Gang. This was followed by films such as the 1982 rap and graffiti documentary Wild style , the 1984 rap and breakdance feature film Beat street, among others), and hip hop music videos such as Malcolm McLaren’s ‘Buffalo gals’ .

These three key hip hop visual texts had a considerable impact in Australia, as elsewhere in the world, where fledgling and inspirational breakers and graffiti writers, and later rappers and turntablists, copied every move from the videos and began taking their newly acquired skills out onto the streets. Burwood Park in Sydney’s inner west was one of the earliest breakdancing sites
in Australia, and was not without the occasional violent encounter, as represented in multicultural crew Sound Unlimited’s 1992 track ‘Tales from the westside’ – Tony Mitchell

I’m glad to be the person who started it, to bridge the culture gap. You know, no black thing or white thing. It’s the we thing…… There was never no racism, music is the universal language. – Kool Herc

There’s no such thing as black and white hip-hop, just good and bad – Briggs

 Okay we may have heard Grandmaster Flash ; the Furious Fives “The Message” on the radio, we may even have seen Crazy Legs ; Frosty Freeze freaking it in Flashdance at the movies for a couple of seconds or seen some graff in Death Wish on TV, but to see all this in three minute music clip was kinda awesome. That was when the seeds to the current Australian Hip-Hop culture were germinated. We all started breaking, some of us then went out bombing, others became glued to the turntables while a select few started rhyming. If one had a Video-recorder, one could always rewind the breaking videos to work out the moves, if one wanted to practice graff one would run around at night with spray paint after perusing over a copy of Subway Art, or after watching a dubbed, dubbed, dubbed copy of Style Wars (which was aired on New Zealand television in 84). If someone else wanted to start deejaying, well then, they bought turntables and records from the import dance stores and stayed at home and practiced, but if one wanted to rhyme . . . well then.”  – BLAZE

1979

The Fairlight was the first digital synthesizer and sampler. It was invented by two young Australians. 

 The Fairlight got its name from a hydrofoil (itself named after the Sydney suburb Fairlight) which Ryrie and Vogel saw pass by as they worked on their invention in Ryrie’s grandmother’s Point Piper garage. We take sampling technology for granted today, but at the time it was a revelation for a computer to be able to store (on floppy disc) and manipulate recorded natural sounds.

1982

In 1982, the video “Buffalo Gals“,was shown on a television music show called Sound Unlimited.

The show was staged in a Manhattan basketball court and featured images of graffiti and break dancers. 

1983

The first Rap single to be released by an Australian Artist

Although this was, technically, the first Rap released in the country, it is a Novelty Track and isn’t respected by the community or widely acknowledged as a true Hip Hop Release.

1984

The Thong Clap was also released as a piece of satire and is not really considered a Hip Hop release.

Possibly released in 1983

1985

One of Melbourne’s First Hip Hop Events

1987

 Skippy The Butcher supported Run DMC on their ’88 Australian tour. 

In 1987/1988 former punk band turned hip-hop act,”Skippy the Butcher” performed at venues around Melbourne,most notably a residence at The Razor club around the end of 1988. Allegedly one of the first ever gigging Australian Hip Hop groups. Following this they joined in the first tour of RUN-DMC,playing support at the Festival Hall and Metro concerts in November 1988. After recording one 5 track EP; “Full Blown Rap”  at the ABC studios in Elsternwick,Melbourne the group disbanded.                   

 

The third Australian Rap record released was by Mighty Big Crime.

Although this may be closer to Hip Hop, the group was considered more of a novelty project.

Perth’s first Hip Hop radio station ”Scratch Fm” from 1987 to 1992 hosted by Dj Cut Nice

“Rhyming was the most neglected part of the four quarters of Hip-Hop. Because all the rap that anyone had ever heard was from African-Americans, most felt that they were the only ones who could do it properly and sound good.

The problem was in reality that no-one had ever heard a non-American accent rapping and when they did hear an Australian voice rapping they would turn off and prefer to hear someone with a fake accent. This stifled the development of rhyming in the early years, whereas breaking was everywhere, but then it started getting out of control with the media & advertising industry exploiting the fuck out of it. So to many b-boyin’ became just another passing fad, but to others it was more important and they stuck with it and channeled their drive for breaking into the world of bombing.

This is what became the most prolific part of Hip- Hop in Australia. Every suburb seemed to have it’s own bombing crew, one didnÕt need lino or cardboard and a boom box, all one needed was a pen. Because breaking was a physical activity not everyone could partake in it, whereas everybody could write. And because one was constantly writing one was also practising at the same time.

Shit became hectic and soon the major cities started changing in about 86-88, that was when it was at its peak.

A day wouldn`t go by without seeing another writer on the train in the standard uniform: runners with fat laces, tracksuits, backpack, etc. . . . Styles were being mastered and statewide correspondence had been initiated, friendly battles ensued, shit was happening.” – Blaze
 

1988

The first true Australian Hip Hop release

On vinyl, “Combined Talent” / “My Destiny” in 1988. Founding members include Dj Case, Mentor later joined the group, later it was re-formed with Roamz.

It was pressed independently. Based in Sydney’s outer western suburbs, Just Us and their affiliates were rough, rugged and raw, and pushed an individual Australian identity through their music. Central Station Records then released the group’s “Voice of the Hunted” (with Mentor added to the group) vinyl in the early 90s. Case moved to Malta for a few years, returned and re-formed Just Us with Roamz, and performed at the mighty Contents Under Pressure gig with FWP. Since then Case has been working with Terminal Illness and has produced a track for the upcoming Def Wish Cast album. Roamz is working with the Ascendescents and Mentor moved into metal. – Mark Pollard

    Musically it relied on 808 beats, 303 bassline, heaps of impressive scratching and Aussie accents. Undoubtedly a classic and very indicative of the sound of the western suburbs in Sydney at that time. This was followed up a couple of years later with a 6-track EP “Voice of the Hunted” on CENTRAL STATION RECORDS which included their popular track “Stinging In The Rain”. Unfortunately DJ CASE left for Malta and MENTOR ventured into metal. – Blaze
    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6F4gvvuXes

The first Australian hip hop group signed to a major record label

A Postcard from the Edge of the Underside was the only Australian rap album to be released by a major label (Columbia Sony) in the 1990s.  This “breakthrough recording deal” was negotiated with the help of Public Enemy.

In the late 1980s, Sound Unlimited Posse became the first Australian hip hop group signed to a major record label (Sony BMG),releasing A Postcard from the Edge of the Under-side in 1992. The group initially received some criticism for their instrumental style and commercial success,particularly from other Sydney-based hip hop outfits.

 Burwood Park in Sydney’s inner west was one of the earliest breakdancing sites in Australia, and was not without the occasional violent encounter, as represented in multicultural crew Sound Unlimited’s 1992 track ‘Tales from the westside’

The release and label backing got them into the charts, played on 2DayFM and spots on all sorts of TV shows such as Vidiot (yeah, you remember that one ú Edan Gaha was the man). They even graced the cover of 3d World, something that few other local acts have achieved mainly because they don’t have Roger Sanchez as their DJ. They were mocked to some degree by the more underground crews, especially with samples such as from Men at Work and a lot of Americanisms. Their success was talked up by labels and media alike, but it is said that it took them almost ten years to pay back their advance to the record label. In this time, they made a name and lineup change (Renegade Funktrain), and seemed to be trying to do an acid-jazz-hip-hop thing five years too late. – Mark Pollard

Munkimuk, known as The Grandfather of Indigenous Hip Hop has been performing since 1984 as a breakdancer and started emceeing in 1988.

He is known for his music production, MCíng, breakdancing, event hosting and radio broadcasting. In 2014 Mark Munk Ross was inducted into the National Indigenous Music Awards Hall Of Fame.

I was also getting a reputation as a freestyle rapper while I was doing all this music stuff. And then I got a few shows, by myself. I ended up just doing spoken word, like rapping. Then I worked out that I’d have my drum machine with me and have the presets that I programmed and just let the beat play. So I did that and it was pretty bodgie! [Laughs.] Most of the places that I’d do these gigs were all African American guys at these gigs, rapping. I was completely different because I was rapping in my own accent. They were like, ‘Woah man, what’s this? Hillbilly rap?!’ [Laughs.] So I thought, I’m gonna bring all my mates with me, which is how the whole South-West Syndicate thing came about. I thought I’m not gonna go out there by myself and be the laughing stock, that whole being laughed off stage, man – been there and done it. I thought, next time I’m gonna go and I’m gonna go with 30 of my mates and we’re all gonna for it – and see who laughs then! – Munkimuk

 

Down Under By Law, released in 1988, was the first ever Australian Hip Hop compilation

Featuring Westside Posse, Sharline, Mighty Big Crime, Swoop, Fly Girl 3, Pest-A-Side, Mike Scott & Drew Muirhead.

“Down Under by Law” was a compilation pieced together by Virgin and released in 1988 on vinyl. It was the first Australian hip hop compilation ever released but it seems tainted by the fact that it appeared that Virgin were trying to capitalise on the late-80s boom in hip hop around the world. Spice, West Side Posse and several other artists made appearances. – Mark Pollard

The very poor “Down Under By Law” compilation which was put together by dance music producers and DJs. It was a tub of lard with no redeeming features, although WEST SIDE POSSE`s track “Pull the Trigger” was the closest to what we wanted. – Blaze

 

 

The first ever DMC Australian event was in 1988.

DMC Australia was then ran by Sydney-based promoter and DJ Joe Coneeley (a.k.a Joe 90) who ran various dance parties and went on to found the `Vibes on a summers day’tour. His Sydney DJ comp events were huge and one in particular drew 5000 punters to the Horden pavilion. The event was hosted by a young Rodney Overblow the Third, now more reasonably known as MC Rodney O

DJ KC and ASK were two of the most influential and innovative Sydney turntablists/DJs through the late ’80s and into the ’90s. KC was the Australian DMC Champion three times and is renowned for his three turntables showcase. DJ ASK took out the National DMC twice, and was known for brewing up a storm everywhere he went – in many different ways. In 1994 he teamed up with the then-teen-aged DJ Bonez and formed the Cross Fader Raiders. Aside from cassette releases, they put out “Casting Spells on 12s” with Swamp and the battle record “Raiders of the Lost Crate” through DMC in Melbourne. ASK moved to the UK with Renegade Funktrain while KC now runs the United DJ School in Surry Hills. – Mark Pollard

Vapors was one of the first Hip Hop magazines in the world.

Much as Hype was one of the first full colour graf mags in the world, Australia (despite what some may think) has been documenting, innovating and cultivating the culture as long as most.

Vaporz was established by Blaze with the first issue being printed in 1988. Initially boasting a cut and paste format, the magazine predates the empire-like The Source and HHC. It was strong with opinion and, despite coming out infrequently, had a grassroots following around the world. – Mark Pollard

The first appearance of an Australian hip hop act on Australian Television was in November 1988 when Skippy The Butcher performed live on the ABC’s “The Factory” connected to the Run DMC tour.

Some of Perth’s first Hip Hop Releases on cassette

Def Threat allegedly released the first Hip Hop album in Perth, followed by Gangstar and,  Damkev & Comp (Thu Rubbishmen)

Jigzaw broadcast Brisbane’s first hip hop show ‘Jus 2 Def’ alongside his co-host Biz on Station 4ZZZ

1989

In Melbourne  the PARK BENCH ROYALS  released a 2-track 12″ single.

Although ironically, NEMO, dissed house music but then ventured into esoteric Hip-House a few years later.   Adelaidian DJ, K-JAY produced this as well as being a member of the famed AKA BROTHERS, who also released a 3-track 12″ single in 89 “Coming Out Large/Poetry In Motion/Tall Poppy Sundrome”.

 This is when Australian Hip Hop music was truly born.

It had crunchy breaks, funky scratching and the true aesthetics of Hip-Hop styles courtesy of RANSOM, CHOICE CUTS and PAC. Years later in 1990 they released another 12″ single “What Is It/On the T-Cozy Tip” also on STRAIT UP records. They also took this with them when they performed at the New Music Seminar “Standing On the Verge” gig in New York in 1990. Yeah, the Americans realised their skills before most Australian Hip-Hop fans had even heard of them. – Blaze

Triple J was launched Nationally 

Although initially it was accused of ignoring the emerging hip hop scene and related genres, in favour of the more marketable rock-oriented grunge style that dominated music at the same time. It wasn’t until  1994 that Triple J expanded to most regional centres through-out Australia.

The station also exerted a noticeable effect on local record companies. For many years, local record labels would only import recordings that they knew would earn a good commercial return, and they were often unwilling to take risks on local releases of unknown acts. Much new music was routinely available only as expensive imports in specialist shops. 

In 1989, Triple J had been playing N.W.A’s protest song “Fuck tha Police” for up to six months, before catching the attention of ABC management who subsequently banned it. As a result, the staff went on strike and put the group’s song “Express Yourself” on continuous play for 24 hours, playing it roughly 360 times in a row.

046, Brethren & Def Wish Cast were formed in 1989

Australia saw the first issue of ‘Hype’ magazine hit the shelves, an all Australian color graffiti magazine that was dedicated to b-boying and graffiti

Radio Therapy was on Sydney radio 2RRR, 88.5 FM and played hip-hop as well as hip-house and house music. It ran from late 1989 to late 1990.

https://hiphopradioarchive.org/show/428

1990

The Lounge Room was established by Blaze and JU in the early ’90s.

It was the first specialist hip hop store in Sydney and provided a daily meeting spot for people to network and satisfy vinyl appetites. The shop later moved to Crown St where it shared premises with X Large and, having been robbed twice and having most of their stock cleaned out, Blaze moved the shop into some spare space in a printer’s workshop just off William St. Next Level Records emerged out of the Lounge Room with Blaze having enough of it all. Dr Phibes set up his shop on Liverpool St where it has been for the past five years. He opened it with a box of records left over from the Lounge Room and a turntable. – Mark Pollard

next level records

Australia’s First Hip Hop Radio Shows

Various media types preceeded Miguel D’Souza (Tim Ritchie on Double J in the late 80s for instance – now the head of Radio National) but few were as vitriolic as the Barry White of Bhangarra Rap. In October 1990, he was involved with getting Sydney’s first hip hop show on air. It was called The Mothership Connection and aired on 2SER every Tuesday afternoon on Sydney community radio 2SER-FM. The show featured many, many MC’s, DJ’s and even graf writers and b-boys and b-girls of the Sydney hip hop scene as regular guests.

Def Wish Cast were the first to Tour Australia-wide

They were the only Australian underground act to tour all across Australia without the aid of anybody but themselves. Then they released a 3-track tape, which then turned up on their explosive album and medieval inspired “Knights of the Underground Table”. Unfortunately it came out on CD and cassette only. Much to the dismay of the European audience who heard them via Norwegian Hip Hop DJ and magazine publishing freak (Fatcap), Tommy Tee. He became an ardent fan and played their music on his radio show which was broadcast into several northern European countries. The Germans also went apeshit over them and they sold a few hundred copies there as well. They also managed to make a videoclip for the anthemic track “A.U.S.T.” which mangaged to get played on a few nationally broadcast music video shows. They have now changed their style from a somewhat British style to a more East coast flavour. – Blaze

Def Wish Cast are the quintessential Sydney hip hop crew. A lot of groups have made very valuable contributions to the culture but few crews have been as well-rounded and have made such a large impact as Die-C, Sereck and Def Wish. They released the “Mad As a Hatter” vinyl EP in 1992. Subsequently, they were the first group to tour nationally. They then released their album “Knights of the Underground Table” (CD and cassette), which became a manual for Australian hip hop. It was released through Western Sydney-based Random records, who, despite selling in the vicinity of six to eight thousand units, never paid the group. The clip for “A.U.S.T.” gave a face to Australian hip hop and was pivotal in shaping generations to come. Many can still remember seeing it for the first time on Video Hits or Rage. – Mark Pollard

 

Joe 90 split with DMC in 1990 and it wasn’t until Chris Smith (DJ Chris Kross) took over in 1992 that the DJ comp recommenced.

That year the VIC heat took place at the Mega Bar and included some stellar names. Ransom took out first place, with DJ Kash second and Anthony Pappa in third. Ransom’s routine included the first `Beat Juggle’ in an Australian battle, but the judges at the Australian finals (including Future Entertainment head Honcho Mark James and old skool DJ Paul `Flex’ Taylor) gave the nod to NSW champ K.C (Kirren Way) who’s spectacular set included samplers, 4 decks and pyrotechnics. The live act in 1992 was Def Wish Cast.

Rize & Tarkee release their debut single ‘Let Yourself Be Yourself’

This was a gem also and solidified the fact that Australians could hook up beats just like anyone else. Two years later they released another single on S.U., but this time they came with a name change. They were now to be known as Mama’s Funkistools

 

1991

In 1991 a local Sydney Rap Solo Artist, KIC,only 16 years old was signed to Sony/COLUMBIA records becoming the youngest to sign to a major label & the first Australian Hip Hop Artist to reach the Top Ten Charts in Singapore and Hong Kong.

His first debut single ‘Bring Me On’ was an instant hit in Australia and reached the top ten charts in Singapore and Hong Kong in 1994.

Brudas United As One were formed

1992

South West Syndicate were formed.

1992 saw the vinyl release of one of  DEF WISH CAST and their “Mad As A Hatter” EP featuring Brethren who released their demo cassette the same year.

Consisting of four songs which were also on the independent label Random Records released Def Wish Cast‘s album Knights of the Underground Table. After this there were a string of independent CDs and tapes released by various artists from the Western Suburbs of Sydney,an area traditionally regarded as working class,underprivileged,and crime-ridden,with a large population of immigrant inhabitants.

 

13th Son began MCing with Industrial Dispute

1993

In 1993, MC Que released a cassette taped titled ‘Tellin’ it like it is’ which was the first release by a female emcee in Australia.

Brad Strut released his first demo, Rock On.

Slingshot Touring & Events was launched by Trent Roden.

Slingshot Touring & Events is the longest running hiphop concert promoter in Australia…. starting events in 1993 and then going national in 1995 Slingshot has been responsible for over100 international tours and shows across Australia.

Finger Lickin Good released their debut EP

    Melbourne based ORGANIZED RHYME PRODUCTIONS also released a somewhat curious compilation EP which included a track each from RISING NOT RUNNING, DOO DAYZ, RHYME, BRUDAS UNITED AS ONE and ORGANIZED RYHM themselves. Very dark and old school sounding, which the younger audience found hard to appreciate, although it wasnÕt an altogether satisfying release. – Blaze

Sydney also saw the debut of ILLEGAL SUBSTANCE …Blackhand, as well as the Funke Knomads featuring The Urban Poets

Def Wish Cast released the single A.U.S.T.

1994

Hilltop Hoods released their debut on cassette titled Highlanders

 Until the late 1990s, it was customary for new Australian hip-hop albums to be released on self produced
cassettes 

“Blaze’s group Noble Savages produced an eight-track cassette album in 1994, and Capital punishment, a six-track tape, produced by DJ Vame.  Trey, Koolism, Noble Savage (featuring Blaze), Easybass and Fathom all produced first
cassette releases which are now collectors’ items. As Pollard has noted, this ‘Tape Culture’ was another
defining aspects of Sydney’s Do-it-Yourself hip-hop underground: ‘Everybody dubbed tapes for each other
because more often than not the tapes would sell out due both to demand and small print runs …  Similarly, most Australian hip-hop CDs have been released on self-produced CDs (eg. Sleekism Records, Fuglemen, Illegal Records, Dope Runner Records) or small independent labels like Parallax View, Elefant Traks, Random Records (who reputedly never paid Def Wish Cast), or local
independent label Mushroom Records’ offshoot MDS/MXL. The principal distributor of Australian
hip-hop on CD is Creative Vibes, a small outfit run by Mother Tongues founder Heidi Pascal, which
also distributes local and overseas dance music and electronica. Other production companies like Trent Roden’s Slingshot Concepts and Mark Pollard’s Stealth combine production with radio DJing, concert and DJ battle competition promotions, and the Urban Xpressions and Stealth hip-hop festivals which have taken place in Sydney most years since 1998. With the exception of the Triple J hip-hop show, most media outlets are also DIY: from the hip-hop shows on community radio stations like 2SER, Bondi FM and their
equivalents in other cities, to the Vaporz graffiti fanzine (which was founded by Blaze in 1988 and which
Pollard claims ‘was the first hip-hop magazine in the world’ 2001: 124) to Stealth and the regular hip-hop
columns and features in the free Sydney weekly music press 3D World, Revolver and Drum Media and their
equivalents in other cities. One of the main disadvantages of all this DIY activity is that the production
standards are often low and cheap and products are consequently rejected or criticised by mainstream
media outlets.” – Tony Mitchell 

1995

Following its beginnings as a hip hop record store in 1995, Melbourne-based Obese Records gained a high profile as a record label. 

Its roster featured local artists such as label founder Pegz, Reason, Bias B, Muph and Plutonic, Art of War, Hilltop Hoods, Sydney-based Hijack and Torcha, Brisbane-based Lazy Grey and the Perth Syllabolix Crew.

 

Home Brews Volume 1 was released in 1995 on Mushroom Records and features 11 artists from Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne & Adelaide

; Koolism, Mama’s Funk, Movement Electronique, Debt Crew, Voodoo Flavour, Frederick Cutter, Wicked Beat Sound System, Merma, BSK, Raised By Wolves & Groove Terminator.

Through XXL/MDS came two local compilations in the mid-90s. “Homebrews” came at a time when larger independent events had started to happen and there was a real sense of momentum building, something that has really only kicked into tangible effect since 2000. Volume 1 of “Homebrews” came out in 1995 with 11 tracks from the likes of Koolism, Groove Terminator, Raph and Ransom while the second installation came out in 1998. Womb-Mind-Speak (several of whom are now working with the Mother Tongues label), Sereck, Brethren, Fathom and DJ Ask made appearances. The majority of tracks were still fairly low-fi compared to what our producers are doing now. – Mark Pollard

The development of a national Australian hip hop scene was given some degree of ‘official’ recognition by the release by local label Mushroom in 1995 of Home Brews Volume 1, a compilation of eleven Australian rap tracks by mostly unrecorded and almost exclusively male ‘bedroom’ hip hop practitioners from Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide. Robert Brailsford’s liner notes expressed the prevailing sense of fragility: apart from having a hip-hop history, it is a history being built on. The main problem being Australian hip-hop suffers the same fate as English or for that matter Zambian hip-hop. The prevailing attitude is that only American hip-hop is real. …The main challenge for Australian hip-hop is to discover and consolidate what makes it unique. I don’t really think anyone knows what that is, but Home Brews should provide some clues. The album’s diversity of styles is immediately noticeable, with trip hop, ragga, acid jazz and funk influences predominating. As a grouping together of exponents of a virtually invisible underground movement, the album is a valuable indicator of some of the developments in the national hip hop scene – Tony Mitchell

Hip Hopera

Towering Inferno performed at the first Annual East Coast Funk Festival at Festival Hall, Brisbane

Dj Damage is also a member of The Big Rigs and Terntable Jediz

Noble Savages released their debut

1996

Resin Dogs were formed, releasing their Debut EP on their own label, Hydrofunk Records.

Downsyde released a demo on cassette called Behind the Bucket

 

1997

DJ Peril formed the 1200 Techniques 

After Sound Unlimited split in 1994,there was little commercial activity within Australian hip hop. However,underground artists continued to play  plenty of small live shows and release independent recordings. 

 

The first Australian hip hop documentary

It was made in 1996 by Paul Fenech (creator of SBS’ Pizza series). 

Basic Equipment was a documentary hosted by Sereck and produced by Paul Fenech. It focussed on a handful of groups mainly from Sydney (Trey, Sleek the Elite, FWP, Cross Fader Radiers and so on). It aired at 8.30pm on ABC during the Loud Festival in 1998 which was a government programme aimed at supporting cultural pursuits. It featured various interviews and footage from the Contents Under Pressure gig. Paul Fenech, of course, stars in and produces SBS’s hit series Pizza now which also stars Sleek, while Basic Equipment is the label/crew name under which Sereck does most of his work. – Mark Pollard

Documentary on Sydney Hip Hop screened in November 1997. Hosted by Sereck Aka Celsius of Def Wish Cast,  it features Sleek The Elite, FWP (Just Us), Def WIsh, Rapid Fire, MC Trey, Cross Fader Raiders (DJ ASK, DJ Bonez), Dr Phibes, Brethren (Wizdom, Mistery) and many more from the Sydney scene.

Metabss ‘N Breath toured USA in 1997/1998 and was the first time Australian Hip Hop was ever mentioned in Billboard Magazine in 1999.

One of the most important fulcrums of Australian hip hop was Metabass ‘n’ Breath, a Sydney crew made up of three prominent MCs and beatboxers – Morganics, Baba and Elf Transporter (the latter two are both expatriate Americans) – and Austrian-Australian DJ Nick Toth. The group’s beats incorporated traditional music from Australia, Asia and South America, and they released a notable album of globally-inflected hip hop called Seek in 1997. Their line-up also included a drummer, a keyboardist and a bass player, and the album contained two tracks in Spanish – evidence that they were looking at global influences rather than exclusively US ones. The group toured the US twice and released their album The life and times of a beatboxer on the San Francisco label Bomb Hip-Hop Records in 2000 before breaking up later that year. – Tony Mitchell

In 2002 Morganics was awarded a special justice commendation by the New South Wales Government for his work with disadvantaged youth, and he continues to work as a facilitator on urban and rural youth hip hop projects throughout the country. His 2003 one-man show Crouching b-boy hidden dreadlocks detailed some of his work in prisons and community centres as well as outlining his hip hop philosophy. His second album Evolve (2003) contained the track ‘Multilingual MC’, which includes snippets of lyrics from 15 different languages, including Japanese, French, Spanish and Pitjantjatjara, which Morganics had to learn in order to communicate with young Aboriginals in Central Australia. – Tony Mitchell

Cannibal Tribe was formed by Raw (R.I.P.)

MCs Raw, The Holy Sinner and Mr Karma

1998

In a way, the Urban Xpressions hip hop festival gave the community a sense of pride and, importantly, a way to bring together the vastly diverse threads of Sydney hip hop. The first one ran in March of 1998 under the Slingshot banner, with Baba from Meta Bass’n’Breath playing a prominent role. Panel discussions, graf exhibitions, breaking in Hyde Park and the first independent American tour (Mystik Journeymen) featured during the ten days of the inaugural festival. 1999 saw Blackalicious come out for the festival while Jzone and Air Force One came out in April 2000. – Mark Pollard

Hip Hop for Palestine 1998

An event held by Sydney’s Lebanese community in Granville Town Hall in 1998, featuring performances by Lebanese/Aboriginal Rappers SouthWest Syndicate as well as graffiti by Sereck.

Trem releases his debut EP Sheer Talent.

Terminal Illness is formed

Case, Illergic & Dj Maniak

Blunted Stylus release the first Hip Hop on Vinyl from Brisbane

1999

Australia’s first All-women Hip Hop compilation released on Mother Tongues, the first label in the world dedicated to developing women in Hip Hop music.

 14 tracks as well as poetry, spoken word, instrumentals and skits featuring Beats R Us, Maya Jupiter, Trey, Ebony Williams, Shorti RV, Dana Diaz & Phoenix.

 

Stealth Mag was launched by Mike Pollard and was the first full colour Hip Hop Magazine in the Southern Hemisphere, released 14 issues before ending in 2007

It  was distributed worldwide via Tower Records.

“What we’re about takes many forms – from raps about BBQs, drinking beer, smoking pot and painting trains, to political and social inspections about race, class inequality and gender issues. The content of Australian hip-hop is as varied as its practitioners ” (Pollard
2003).

Boney & Stoney released their self titled Debut

2000

Bliss N Eso released their first EP ( Originally known as Bliss N Esoterikizm )

2001

In 2001Draino from the Puah Hedz crew released Oz Cella -a multimedia CD documenting artists active in the Australian hip hop scene. 

“An accompanying website was regularly updated until 2005 when the well respected publication was closed.  By June 2003, The OZ cella had chronicled 509 individual Australian hip hop artists, 105, groups, 24 crews, and 141 recordings, representing every state and territory apart from the Northern Territory. Most of these local hip hop releases have been either self-produced or released on small independent labels” – Tony Mitchell

1200 Techniques released the crossover hits Hard As Hell, in 2001 and Karma in 2002 which ” charted in the Australian top 40 and won ARIA awards for “best independent release” and “best video”.

 Their debut album was only the second Australian Hip Hop release on a Major Label.

There was much discussion within the Australian hip-hop scene about the hefty sum of money which 1200 Techniques had to pay to EMI to clear their use of a sample from US soul group Hot Chocolate’s track ‘Brother Louie’ – an extravagance that could only be permitted by a major label, and one which was seen a indicative of the `mainstream orientations of 1200 Techniques – Tony Mitchell

Culture of Kings: Volume 1  was released by Obese Records featuring After Hours, Bias B, Celsius, Certified Wise, Cross Bred Mongrels, Downsyde, Hilltop Hoods, Kolaps, Koolism, Los Town Sophystz, Lyrical Commission, MC Thorn, Mass MC, Matty B, Mr P. Body, Reason, Suffa, Terra Firma, Torcha & Trauma

Triple J created a national, weekly, three-hour hip-hop show.

Hosted by Maya Jupiter from 2004 until Hau from Koolism took over in 2008.

Triple J’s acknowledgement of local hip-hop artists has had several significant effects. A lot of teens who would have levitated towards punk or rock are now finding that Australian hip-hop provides a voice that is closer to home. It has also increased the interest of larger labels in getting involved with the scene. As Shazlek One from Melbourne’s Obese Records says, “If there’s money to be made off it they’re going to want to be involved.” – Mark Pollard

Ian Shedden’s 2001 Australian feature ‘Hip-hop to the Trip’ suggested that Triple J’s Australian hip-hop show and promotion of Mass MC’s track ‘The BBQ Song’, along with its 2001 national tour featuring MC Trey, Shin Ki Row and Reference Point, was giving Australian hip-hop a higher profile. Shedden claimed that ‘a growing number of artists are emerging from the underground with music that is more expertly recorded and produced’, and ‘the barrier preventing rap in an Aussie accent being taken seriously is starting to crumble. – Tony Mitchell

2002

Local Knowledge was formed.