Australian hip hop

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Australian hip hop music began in the early 1980s and was originally inspired by African-American and Chicano cultural movements from urban areas.[1][2][3] As of 2014, Australian hip hop is predominantly an underground music scene. Commercial success has been attained by several artists, such as Hilltop Hoods and Bliss n Eso. Albums and singles are mostly released by independent record labels, often owned and run by the artists themselves. Australian hip hop culture continues to develop as a diverse musical genre with a distinct Australian personality.[4]

History[edit]

Early years (1980s)[edit]

In 1982, the music video for Malcolm McLaren's track "Buffalo Gals" was shown on the Australian television music show Sound Unlimited, which was broadcast on Network Seven. The clip was staged in a Manhattan basketball court and featured images of graffiti and break dancers. The video left an impression on Australian teenagers, who began to copy the dancer's moves.[5]

The first hip hop release in Australia was called "Combined Talent" / "My Destiny", which was released in 1988 by Just Us (consisting of Maltese DJ Case and Mentor).[6] Also in the late 1980s, hip hop act Skippy the Butcher, formerly a funk band, released a five-track EP titled Full Blown Rap—under the moniker "STB"—which was recorded at the ABC studios in Elsternwick, Victoria, Australia. The band, which had been in existence for just over a year, supported the 1988 Australian tour by Run DMC.[7][8]

Major label releases (1990s)[edit]

In the late 1980s, Sound Unlimited Posse joined the Sony BMG roster, thereby becoming the first Australian hip hop group signed to a major record label. They released the first major-label Australian rap album in 1992, titled A Postcard from the Edge of the Under-side.[6]

In 1991, a 16-year-old, Sydney-based solo artist named KIC was signed to Sony/Columbia Records. His first single "Bring Me On" was popular in Australia, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Also in 1992 the independent label Random Records released Def Wish Cast's album Knights of the Underground Table. After 1992, a string of independent CDs and tapes was released by various artists from the Western Suburbs of Sydney, a largely immigrant-populated area traditionally regarded as working class, underprivileged, and crime-ridden.[9]

MC Opi (aka Opi Nelson) was an underground hip hop and dancehall artist who rose to national success after her performance on Christine Anu and Paul Kelly's 1994 ARIA-nominated single "Last Train", released by Mushroom/EMI (White Label). Prior to this, MC Opi co-produced Women on the The Rhyme, the first national radio documentary about Australian female hip hop artists, created at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).[10]

MC Opi contributed to Anu's debut album Stylin' Up, which attained platinum status in Australia and won the ARIA Award for Best Indigenous Album. Following this Anu invited MC Opi to perform with her on the first 'Australian Jail Tour', as part of NAIDOC (National Aboriginies and Islanders Day Observance Committee) week in 1993 in order to raise awareness about indigenous deaths in custody.[10]

Later years (2000s)[edit]

The Melbourne hip hop group 1200 Techniques was formed in 1997 by "old-school" 1980s B-boy/aerosol artist DJ Peril (founding member of Melbourne hip hop crew, Island Boys), and consisted of himself on production, turntables, and percussion, his brother Kem on guitar and N'fa on vocals.[11] They released an EP in 2001 called Infinite Styles with the independent label Rubber Records.[12] 1200 Techniques later released one of the first hip hop crossover hits, a track called "Karma" (off the album Choose One), which spawned the first ARIA Award for a hip hop act in Australia even before there was a hip hop category. Additionally, Michael Gracey won an ARIA in the same year for Best Video, also for the song "Karma".[13] In 2003, the band released the first Australian hip hop DVD, titled One Time Live, which featured the band's music videos, live footage and two short documentaries. Their second album, Consistency Theory, was released in 2004.[14][15]

Hilltop Hoods, an Australian hip-hop group, have been awarded several ARIA Music Awards

By the early 2000s, the Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA) began to recognise the growth of interest within Australia, and then in 2004 introduced a new category in their annual awards: Best Urban Album (R&B, hip hop, soul, funk, reggae and dancehall). The inaugural award was won by Koolism for their album, Random Thoughts.[16] Koolism DJ Danielsan dedicated the award to the "Australian hip hop community", and exclaimed: "Be yourselves, keep it real, enough of that American wannabe trash".[9]

At the 2006 and 2007 ARIA Awards, the Urban award was won by Hilltop Hoods for their albums The Hard Road and The Hard Road: Restrung, respectively.[17][18] The Hard Road also became the first Australian hip hop album to rank in the number-1 position in the ARIA Charts in 2006. Other artists who have won the award include Bliss n Eso, for their album Flying Colours,[9] and Melbourne artist Illy, for his album Bring it Back, released through the independent Obese Records label.[19]

International recognition of Australian hip hop artists has also occurred, with Australians appearing on the albums of artists from the US and Europe. In October 2014, Adelaide, Australia, artist K21 appeared on a song, titled "Pas rentable", by French hip hop artist LinkRust.[20]

Style and influences[edit]

Australian hip hop artists are strongly influenced by African American and Latino rappers from the US, and continue to incorporate such influences into their music;[21] however, they still use a uniquely Australian, authentic style in their own music.[22] Like many hip hop scenes outside the US, some Australian hip hop artists have also been influenced by funk and dancehall.[23] Indigenous Australian culture is also a strong influence for many hip hop artists.[5][24]

While hip hop artists in the US are predominantly African American, many Australian hip hop artists are of Anglo heritage. Numerous Australian hip hop artists, including N'fa, Miracle, Vida Sunshyne, KillaQueenz, and Diafrix are of African descent, which has influenced their music.[25]

The use of Australian hip hop in sport, such as the use of a Hilltop Hoods song by SBS for a Tour De France promotion, is indicative of the genre's expansion into Australia's public sphere.[26][27]

Bliss n Eso consists of an American and two Australians. According to Bliss, "When I [moved] to Australia [in 1992], I met Eso and he was the only guy at my school into hip-hop. It was so scarce you'd be lucky to find a hip-hop record in a store let alone a whole section."[28] Eso is seen here performing in 2011.

American Influence[edit]

US artists cited as key inspirations by Australian hip-hop artists include Public Enemy,[3][29] A Tribe Called Quest,[30][31] and Nas.[30][32] Peak Aussie crew Hilltop Hoods commended Organized Confusion, Kraz and De La Soul as potentially composing their "ideal festival line up".[33]

In Australia, dance moves associated with hip hop, like locking and popping have drawn public interest to hip hop, and contributed to its dynamic popularity.[34] However, these dance moves have been criticised as not being original and a sign that Australia suffers from not having a hip hop cultural identity of its own.[35]

More generally, the American influence on Australian music and film has actually had its biggest impact in the 21st century with the expansion of the internet. The internet has made American film, music, language and fashion popular worldwide.[36]

Briggs has the name of his Indigenous tribe, the Yorta Yorta people, tattooed on his forearms "so every time I rock the mic people know I’m representing."[37]

Australian Identity[edit]

Although hip hop originated in the U.S. some Australian rappers see their hip hop scene as distinct, with its own unique character. Dialectrix has described it as a "mongrel mutation" of Afro-centric and Australian culture.[3] In the lyrics of Def Wish Cast it is "down under, comin' up."[5][38]

Australian hip hop has been localised with the introduction of aspects such as: the Australian accent, Australian slang, political views, and references to localities and matters of Australian cultural identity. The lyrics of early Western Sydney artists like 046, Def Wish Cast and the White Boys represent the localization process of Australian hip hop. Additionally, the non-Anglo immigrants of these areas were attracted to hip hop because it tackles the theme of racial opposition, as in African American and Chicano hip hop.[9] Australian hip-hop has been referred to as rich with Australian character, but also as inspiring for immigrants, providing "a voice and a purpose for those making their home anew in Australia."[25] For example, Diafrix use migrant experiences in some of their songs, although this is not their main focus.[27]

Numerous Australian hip hop artists have expressed concern that sections of Australia's hip hop fanbase seem to espouse a "redneck" mentality that is ignorant of the culture's international influences.[3][21] In a 2009 interview, Cross Bred Mongrels member Flak explained: "I don't go for that. [Only listening to Australian hip hop] I think that is a little narrow minded. If it is dope hip hop, it is dope hip hop. If it is from Germany, Japan or Compton, and it is dope, I go for it."[39] Over time, Australian hip hop diversified, absorbing influences from New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the Caribbean. For example, Def Wish described his style as influenced by reggae from London, UK, rather than North American rap, while also acknowledging the Afro-Caribbean roots of that scene.[40]

Indigenous Australian hip hop[edit]

Though not at the forefront of Australian hip hop scene, Aboriginal rappers such as Brothablack, the South West Syndicate, Local Knowledge, Lez Beckett and the Native Ryme Syndicate produce songs that address the cultural situation of Indigenous Australians.[5][24] One of their musical influences is the American hip hop group Public Enemy.[29] Since the early 1980s, many crews have focused on enhancing their competitive edge in the eyes of their competitors, portraying their skills as better and their turf as tougher. Another performer Munkimuk, works on community educational hip-hop projects around Australia,[24] such as 1999s Desert Rap with Brothablack from South West Syndicate and Morganics, organised with Tony Collins from Triple J, of which ABC TV made a documentary.[41] Munkimuk also hosts a nationally syndicated weekly radio program "Indij Hip Hop Show" produced by Koori Radio in Sydney.

Media[edit]

Radio[edit]

Radio, particularly community radio, plays a significant role in the dissemination of hip hop within Australia. Additionally, the Australian Government funds projects, such as the Australian Music Radio Airplay Project (AMRAP), that seek to promote Australian music nationwide. 3RRR was the first radio station to present an international hip hop act to the city—Run-D.M.C.'s 1987 Australian tour—and it highlighted international hip hop culture as well as the local scene.[citation needed]

  • 3MDR (97.1FM): "The Bourne Collective" hosted by Bastian Killjoy[42]
Alternative text
Rob Farley on 3RRR "Wheels of Steel"
  • 3RRR: "Hood Pass" hosted by Carlos Turner and Rob Steezy[43]
  • 106.7 3PBSFM: "Hippopotamus rex" hosted by Ronin Hamill; "Fresh Produce" hosted by Cosi; "B.P.M." hosted by PBS DJs and guests; "tHE bLEND" hosted by Bevin Campbell[44]
  • Triple J: "Hip Hop Show" hosted by Hau Latukefu[45]
  • Edge 96.1 (96.1 FM): "K-Sera & The Dirty Dozen" hosted by K-Sera[46]
  • 2SER (107.3FM): "Hardcore Classic" hosted by Thomas Rock, Ran-Dee and Raine Supreme[47]
  • 4ZZZ (102.1 FM): "Phat Tape" hosted by Chubba Dubbed, Complex, Dj Dcide and Sean B.[48]
  • Three D Radio (93.7FM): "Hazy Tones" hosted by Anders; "Episodes In Space" hosted by Sam & TimeSpace[49][50]
  • Fresh FM (92.7FM): "The Lesson" hosted by Sanchez[51]
  • RTRFM (92.1FM): "Down Underground" hosted by Nick Sweepah; "Full Frequency" (Monday and Friday) hosted by Micah and Philly Blunt (Monday) and Rok Riley (Friday)[52]
  • SYN (90.7FM): "Hip Hop Night" hosted by Jocelyn Leong[53]

Television[edit]

The first appearance [54] 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" during the Run DMC tour.[55] The first Australian hip hop documentary, Basic Equipment, was made in 1996 and released in 1997. Narrated by Paul Westgate (aka Sereck) from Def Wish Cast, the documentary examined the Sydney hip hop culture. It was created by Paul Fenech (creator of SBS' Pizza series) and featured artists such as MC Trey, Def Wish Cast, DJ Bonez, DJ Ask.[56]

During the 1990s, SBS TV's MC Tee Vee, the first Australian dance music show became a hit. In 1992, following an invitation from Annette Shun Wah from the alternative arts show The Noise, MC Opi became the first hip hop artist to become a reporter and assistant producer for MC Tee Vee. MC Tee Vee is notable for being the first national Australian music program dedicated to dance, rap and house music.[57]

In August 2006, the ABC program Compass showed a documentary entitled The Mistery of Hip Hop, which explored the cultural movement and popularity of hip hop in Australia. The film followed one of the "founding fathers" of the Sydney hip hop scene Matthew "Mistery" Peet. Mistery works full-time as graffiti artist and is also emcee/rapper in the group Brethren. The 28-minute documentary looked at the "four elements of hip hop": breakdancing, DJing, rapping, and graffiti. It features interviews with the then-host of Triple J's hip hop show Maya Jupiter, and the other half of Brethren: Wizdm and DJ Kool Herc.[58][59]

In December 2007, ABC Television aired the documentary Words from the City, which includes interviews with a number of high-profile Australian hip hop artists, including: Hilltop Hoods, Koolism, Downsyde, TZU, MC Layla, Bliss n Eso, MC Trey, Wire MC, and Jupiter.[60]

Film[edit]

In 2004, independent film-maker Oriel Guthrie, debuted her documentary Skip Hop at the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF). The film includes live footage of freestyle battles and prominent gigs around Australia, as well as interviews with Def Wish Cast, DJ Peril, Hilltop Hoods, Koolism, Blades of Hades, Maya Jupiter, The Herd and Wicked Force Breakers.[61]

"Out4Fame presents 2003 MC Battle For Supremacy" was the first (documented) national MC tournament and was responsible for supporting the careers of many MCs across Australia. The following year, MCs were invited to enter the tournament for the chance to compete in New Zealand. MCs who have competed in Battle For Supremacy tournaments include Weapon X, 360, Anecdote, Nfa, Justice, Dragonfly, Robby Bal Boa, Kaos, Tyna, Surreal, Cyphanetics, Delta. Guthrie also documented the 2004 and 2005 events and released them on DVDs. MC Justice went on to win the 2005 "Scribble Jam MC Battle" in the US and is the first Australian to win the competition.[citation needed]

Publications[edit]

One of the oldest hip hop magazines in the world,[62] Vapors, is Australian and is produced by Blaze. Stealth Magazine debuted in 1999 and was distributed worldwide via Tower Records. Notable zines include Hype, Zest, Raptanite, Arfek, Damn Kids, Artillery, Blitzkrieg and Slingshot.

Following the popular Out4Fame: Battle For Supremacy tournaments, Out4Fame Magazine was launched as a free publication. Out4Fame Magazine was later relaunched as Out4Fame presents ACCLAIM Magazine, which then became ACCLAIM Magazine. ACCLAIM Magazine is distributed throughout Australia, as well as other countries including New Zealand, Singapore and the UK.

Online[edit]

  • OzHipHop.com is a prominent Australian hip hop internet forum that was established in 2002. As of 2004, the website's CEO is Mass MC.[63]
  • ozhiphopshop.com.au is a website that features articles and interviews about the Australian hip hop industry, and is dedicated solely to Australian hip hop.[citation needed]
  • Nuerahiphop features 100% Australian hip Hop as in/ recent song releases and music videos. Many new and established artists latest tracks are posted as audio and video multimedia with some free mp3 downloads available. http://nuerahiphop.wordpress.com

Notable artists[edit]

Record labels[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kalantzis-Cope, Phillip (19 September 2002). "Hip Hop – a Way of Life". Community Broadcasting Online (Stephen Hahn). National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasters Council (NEMBC), George Zangalis. Archived from the original on 29 October 2007. Retrieved 4 October 2012. 
  2. ^ Quartermaine, Craig. NITV News http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2013/11/05/hip-hop-artist-raps-against-racism. Retrieved 16 November 2013.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ a b c d "Does Aussie hip-hop have a problem with racism?". The Vine. 
  4. ^ "Phat of the land". Sydney Morning Herald. 
  5. ^ a b c d Maxwell, Ian (2001). "Chapter 11: Sydney Stylee: Hip-Hop Down Under Comin' Up". In Tony Mitchell. Global Noise: Rap and Hip-Hop Outside the USA. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press. pp. 259–79. ISBN 9780819565020. 
  6. ^ a b Bloustein, Gerry (1999). Musical Visions. ISBN 1-86254-500-6. Retrieved 27 March 2008. 
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  10. ^ a b Alfred Aborga (2 October 2014). "Our Chat With MC Opi: First National Female HipHop Artiste in Australia". Loud Sound Ghana. Loud Sound Ghana. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
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  22. ^ village voice > music > Rock&Roll&: Planet Rock by Robert Christgau
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  27. ^ a b http://www.redbull.com.au/cs/Satellite/en_AU/Article/Diafrix-on-how-theyre-running-it-in-2013-021243330130007
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  54. ^ "The Factory", Episode 54. Broadcast 12 November 1988, EntertainmentOnABC, 13 July 2010
  55. ^ "5 Points on the Star by STB (Skippy the Butcher) on ABC's The Factory 1988" (Video upload). frettebene1 on YouTube. Google Inc. 17 January 2011. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  56. ^ "Basic Equipment". Screen Australia. Retrieved 2008-09-15. 
  57. ^ "SBS". Retrieved October 11, 2014. 
  58. ^ "Compass program summary - 'The Mistery of Hip Hop' at". Abc.net.au. 6 August 2006. Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  59. ^ Compass program summary - 'The Mistery of Hip Hop' on YouTube
  60. ^ "ABC TV guide December 2007". Abc.net.au. 7 December 2007. Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  61. ^ "Nation Library of Australia - listing 'Skip Hop'". Nla.gov.au. Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  62. ^ Out4Fame Magazine, Issue #25, 2004, page 32 "DJ Peril's Tales from the Old School - interview with DJ Blaze"
  63. ^ Karl (8 July 2004). "Reason - A True Aussie Icon of Hip Hop". Resident Advisor. Resident Advisor Ltd. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  64. ^ "What Happened To Nurcha?". Nurcha Records. 10 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 

External links[edit]