Melbourne VIC, Australia
Pegz – Aka Pegasus, from Melbourne, Victoria. In the scene since 1992, first release in 2001. Formed Obese Records in 2002. Appeared on the compilation Culture Of Kings Volume 2 released in 2002.
“It’s just blown up,” says Pegz, reflecting on the Australian talent boom. “It’s gone from being this tiny little community, where there were maybe a couple of dozen crews and artists doing their thing, to now when you’ve got literally hundreds.”
Over the past 15 years, Pegz has witnessed the steady evolution in Australian hip-hop. Growing up around St Kilda and Elwood, he became involved in the nascent scene as a graffiti artist before starting to rap in his early teens. In 2000, he wangled a job at Obese Records, the specialist hip-hop music store in Prahran. Back then, Obese released only the occasional record, but Pegz believed the set-up had massive potential.
“The history of Australian hip-hop goes back to the mid ’80s, but no one had really backed it and a major label had never pushed through the proper Australian acts,” he says. “Seeing so much untapped talent was almost too good to be true.”
Three-and-a-half years ago, Pegz took over Obese Records and quickly signed up a small army of Australian talent including the Hilltop Hoods, Perth’s Downsyde and local rappers Murph and Plutonic. He also bought a local vinyl press to establish his own distribution system and quickly turned Obese into the biggest independent hip-hop label in Australia.
Despite being a fierce champion of the local scene, Pegz concedes that Australian hip-hop is an acquired taste. “If you’ve been brought up on American hip-hop, it was quite difficult even for me to get my head around,” he admits. “When I first started listening to it, I actually thought people sounded too ocker and in-your-face. Back then there were very few opportunities for local crews to perform live so Australian hip-hop sort of had that cringe element to it.”
“I was rapping with an American accent until 1988 or 1989,” says Pegz a little sheepishly. “I didn’t know anything else.”
“Of course I’m a staunch advocate of the Australian voice,” says Pegz. “I feel it’s our strongest asset. The more poppy artists (who use American accents) do not get respect from 98 per cent of the hip-hop community. I don’t respect the music that they make, I find it pretentious.” “We haven’t been infected so much by that commercial element of music,” he explains. “If you have 15 years of a music that’s never had any commercial success, it’s going to create a lot of artistic integrity. Australian hip-hop is more about keeping true to yourself and the people who you respect as opposed to making something commercially viable. It seems to be a lot more artistically driven and a lot more self-critical and integrity is conducive to progression.”
PEGZ – ‘Fatter’ (feat Reason)
(produced by Lazy Grey)
Easily still one of the hardest beats to ever come out of the country produced by the boss LAZY GREY. Reason was already a legend at this point with the classic Solid EP under his belt and a bunch of other records across Australia, but we were all still relatively new to Pegz. When we saw who was on production and guesting we knew it had to be a burner but never expected to hear such a phenomenal verse. Pegz was and still remains once of the best MCs content and delivery bar for bar. – Funkoars
Coming up as a young graffiti artist before beginning to rap in the early 90’s, Pegz then known as Pegasus had an early track featured on a release from the hugely influential Melbourne hip-hop label Nuffsaid Recordings. Upon starting to work at a then-emerging hip hop shop/record label called “Obese Records”, Pegz released his debut self-titled EP Pegasus in 2001 that really kick-started a prolific next decade that had not been seen before on such a scale.
Before Pegz released his classic debut album Capricorn Cat back in 2003, he had purchased the Obese Records shop he was working at and had continued to significantly develop the release side of the emerging business. With landmark, early releases from the likes of Brad Strut (Lyrical Commission / Unkut Recordings), Hilltop Hoods, Reason, Funkoars, Bias B, Hunter & Dazastah as well as the Culture of Kings compilation releases, Obese Records had positioned itself nationally as having a significant market reach at the time. Local Australian-made hip-hop at the time was just beginning to find a larger market audience and commercial acceptance off the back of Resin Dogs, Downsyde and 1200 Techniques influential local releases / festival appearances, and the Obese Records releases of Culture of Kings Volume 2 compilation and especially Hilltop Hoods’ The Calling smashed through the glass ceiling that appeared to exist then.
With Obese Records now on fire throughout the mid-2000’s with a string of quality releases, Pegz released his own acclaimed albums in “Axis” (2005) and “Burn City” (2007) to great success. The 14-track Axis features Hilltop Hoods, Hyjak N Torcha, Oregon’s Debaser, was largely produced by Plutonic Lab and certainly cemented Pegz in the scene as a talented emcee. His latter Burn City released in late-2007 featured Vents, Drapht, The Funkoars, Illy, Muph and Cali’s Planet Asia and proved to be commercially more successful peaking at #70 on the ARIA Album Chart, #10 on the ARIA Urban Album Chart and #4 on the ARIA Hitseekers Albums chart as the audience widened.
Following Burn City, Pegz developed a trio group called “Gully Platoon” with Joe New and Dialectrix (both formerly of Down Under Beats Crew). They dropped a 14-track album in mid-2009 on Obese Records called “The Great Divide” featuring DJ 2 Buck, Plutonic Lab, future members of the current award-winning group Remi and reached #5 on the local independent Top 20 Album charts and #18 on the ARIA Top 40 Urban Album charts. This period continued a string of successful and critically acclaimed releases on his Obese Records including Drapht “Brothers Grimm” (2008), Muph & Plutonic “…And Then Tomorrow Came” (2008), M-Phazes “Good Gracious” (2010), Mantra “Power Of The Spoken (2010) and Bias B “Biaslife” (2011) amongst others.
By the time Pegz’s fourth solo album perfectly titled as “Drama” dropped in 2011, Obese Records in retrospect had somewhat hit a high watermark. The leading group from Obese Records in Hilltop Hoods had left and gone independent forming Golden Era Records, the physical record pressing arm of the business had closed down and his large influence had led to some concerns of Obese monopolizing the rapidly developing local hip-hop market. “Drama” largely marked Pegz exit from hip-hop as an active rapper, leading him to focus more on the label aspect, management and distribution arms of Obese Records.
Pegz legacy as both an emcee and through Obese Records is of incredible importance to hip hop’s development and wider embracement it now enjoys throughout Australia. This recent EP drop with Silent Titan was more than a welcomed surprise and re-opens the door to continuing the Pegz story – or closes it again. Time will tell, but the messages touched on throughout Equilibrium are timely in a musical landscape that has changed so much in recent years. Stay tuned to The Source for an upcoming article on Obese Records – Australia’s most influential hip-hop record label to date.
Melbourne VIC, Australia