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Australia

ozhip hopHip Hop Scene: The Australian hip hop scene’s inception can be traced back to the late ‘˜80s when several groups began dropping vinyl singles. In 1988, Just Us, a group from Sydney (NSW), dropped the 1st 12’ called “Combined Talent.” They were soon followed by the AKA Brothers who dropped a 12″ the same year. The next year Just Us followed up their single with the 1st Australian hip hop EP, “Voice of the Hunter,” while the AKA Brothers released their 2nd and 3rd singles by 1990. At the same time newcomers Rize and Tarkee from Melbourne (VIC) dropped their first 12″, “Let Yourself Be Yourself.” The biggest achievement of the early Australian hip hop scene was the 1st official album release from Def Wish Cast, a 4 man group out of Sydney (NSW). When the “Knights of the Underground Table” hit stores in 1993 it had great success domestically and in Europe. Def Wish Cast became legends as the album went on to sell over 5,000 copies and the crew became the first hip-hop group ever to tour Australia. After the success of Def Wish Cast, a number of notable artists and groups such as Finger Linkin Good, Fathom, Easybass, Def Poets Society, Mass MC, Illegal Substance, MC Que and a few others began populating a vibrant underground scene.

In the last three years the sales have picked up for a lot of artists. Nearly every current hip hop artist is on an independent label, with Obese Records being the largest. Obese Records is home to the Hilltop Hoods, Australia’s most commercially successful hip hop crew, whose last 2 albums have sold a combined total of more than 140,000 units. While that’s an exception more than the norm a number of artists are happy to move between 500 and 2000 units. In addition to an increase in sales the quality of the end product from the artwork to the mastering and promotional work has improved as well. With increased sales comes increased demand for shows and there are about 5-10 acts currently doing regular gigs. Both Hilltop Hoods and Muph+Plutonic went from 1 show in each state after the release of an album to 1 show a week for over a year.

The scene has continued to grow as artists that have been plugging away for years (5 to 10 years) are still going at it today such as Mnemonic Ascent, After Hours, Downsyde, Def Wish Cast, etc. as well as people like Mark Pollard (Stealth Magazine), Trent Rodan, Beat Broker (#1 hip hop publicity company in Australia), Draino, Aidan, and a number of others who produce magazines, artwork, websites, shows and publicity.

Today, shows that used to be half full in the past are reaching capacity and the ticket prices continue to rise. Large indie chain stores such as JB Hi-Fi, which didn’t carry hip hop prior to 2002, now stock nearly every hip hop release. Thanks to Beat Broker Publicity (who exposed the Hilltop Hoods & Muph+Plutonic to the mainstream) it is now easier to get Australian Hip Hop on radio and TV channels who don’t specialize in hip hop. There are also major stations such as Triple J, an Australian wide broadcast, that get behind quality Australian hip hop and have shown a lot of support to acts such as Hilltop
Hoods, Muph+Plutonic, TZU, The Herd, Bliss N Eso, Koolsim and more.

Sources: Huge, huge thanks to my peoples at TheRapcella.com for hooking me up with the info and tracks.

Overview:
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Australia’s original inhabitants, known as Australian Aborigines, have the longest continuous cultural history in the world, with origins dating back to the last Ice Age. Although mystery and debate shroud many aspects of Australian prehistory, it is generally accepted that the first humans traveled across the sea from Indonesia somewhere between 40,000 and 70,000 years ago. Their existence was relatively undisturbed until the 16th century when Europeans began to encroach on the Australian coastline. Europeans, however, did not officially begin inhabiting the country until 1779, when Joseph Banks (a naturalist on James Cook’s voyage) suggested that Britain could solve overcrowding problems in its prisons by transporting convicts to New South Wales.

In 1787, the First Fleet set sail for Australia with 11 ships, 750 convicts, four companies of marines and supplies for two years. During this time early exploration and expansion took place for one of three reasons: to find suitable places of secondary punishment, to occupy land before anyone else arrived or in later years, because of a quest for gold. This quest for gold attracted free settlers to Australia and over the next decades a huge influx of immigrants and several large finds boosted the economy and changed the face of the colony. Aborigines were pushed off their tribal lands as new settlers took up land for farming or mining. The Industrial Revolution in England required plenty of raw materials, and Australia’s agricultural and mineral resources expanded to meet the demand.

On January 1, 1901 the six states (New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia) that make up Australia proclaimed themselves to be part of one nation, forming the Commonwealth of Australia. In the same ceremony, the first governor general was sworn in as the representative of the queen, who remained head of state. Australia remained loyal to Britain and fought alongside her in both World Wars. However, the UK defeat in Asia led Australians to build an alliance with the United States whom they have been aligned with ever since. The post-war era was another boom time in Australia as its raw materials were once again in great demand and mass immigration primarily from Europe, boosted the population as a flood of non British immigrants began to enter the country.

Final constitutional ties between Australia and the United Kingdom were severed in 1986 with the passing of the Australia Act, ending any British role in the Australian States. After a period of transition, recession and high unemployment in the early 1990s, the electorate chose John Howard as their new prime minister. Howard has since become the country’s second-longest serving prime minister, most recently re-elected in 2004. Today, Australia has one of the strongest economies in the world—competitive, open and vibrant. The Australian economy has not suffered a recession since the Howard government began the process of micro-economic reform, including partial deregulation of the labor market and the privatization of state-owned businesses, most notably in the telecommunications industry. However, under Howard, the prominent, divisive issues of refugees (and refugee camps) have seen the majority of Australians hardening their hearts to asylum seekers. Howard’s stance on Aboriginal issues has also been marked more by confrontation than by sympathy.

Sources: Wikipedia.com, CIA.gov, Australia.com, Frommers, Fodors, and Lonely Planet.

Magazine:HalftimeOnline
Date: December 18, 2007