Ah, the ‘Support Oz Hip Hop’ logo… it really hasn’t aged well. Rumoured to have been trademarked by the now defunct Obese Records, the now cringe-worthy logo actually represented a truly great time for hip hop in Australia once upon a time. 

It was a time when hip hop heads had a true scene: battle nights and local shows happening every weekend, an online message board where every hip hop head in Australia spent hours each day debating and swapping notes about the art, and a real unified “us against the music industry” mentality. 

From outside the scene, you wouldn’t know how alive it was. It was pre-social media, so only a hand full of record companies and promoters understood how healthy it was, and the only artists you’d hear on the radio were the Hilltop Hoods and Bliss n Eso, so as far as retail was concerned, it was all just “skip hop”. 

Today, that scene is gone – at least at the scale it once was – and to be honest, a part of me thinks that’s a good thing. Good charities should eventually put themselves out of business too, and that’s what the scene did: it created so much hype that it broke into the mainstream, and made itself redundant. 

It’s what I think would have happened to the heavy scene here too if it weren’t for companies like Unified spending so much time, care and money keeping the underground scene alive despite the genre’s mainstream success. Never underestimate the power of passionate industry leaders who focus on unifying their scene, not exploiting it – that’s what the hardcore scene has now, what the hip hop scene didn’t. 

Where would the hip hop scene be now if labels like Obese took the approach of reinvesting into their grassroots scene, as well as their labels? What if the Obese Blockparty was more about unifying and supporting the scene, rather than just giving the show to the highest bidder and booking the acts who’d take the biggest compromise on their fee? 

What if the hip hop scene had stood for more than just a slogan of ‘Support Oz Hip Hop’, so that when it did finally get ‘support’, it still had a reason to exist?

With that breath I’d like to share some truly world class wordsmiths and storytellers who never broke out, but damn well should have – and, with more genuine support around the hip hop scene, could have. Most of these acts are now defunct, but some are still kicking around in one capacity or another, so be sure to give them a listen, and the props they deserve.


Prime is the best lyricist no one knew about. He is a rapper you can listen to 100 times and discover new intricacies in his lyrics every time. Judging by his personal Facebook page he’s given up rap and is now traveling the world doing sports journalism – at least he’s still writing.

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No use even talking about Vents, just listen to this shit. What a monster.

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Mind Over Matter

Full disclosure, I managed these guys. I truly believed Smiles (first verse below) was the most gifted rapper in Australia. He was a student of the art who had pretty much every piece of weaponry at his disposal. Mind Over Matter is no longer, but he’s now doing his solo thing under Smizzy.


MC Layla 

Part of the SBX crew out of WA, she was one of the very few female MCs kicking around at the time.

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Hyjak n Torcha

I actually can’t work out if Hyjak n Torcha are the dopest shit ever, or if I’m just blinded by the great memories of that time. Either way, I love this shit.

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See Also: No more gatekeepers: Examining the changing face of Aussie hip hop

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