INTERVIEW: The charismatic Mistah Cee speaks on the evolution of Aussie rap
Maroubra-raised DJ Mistah Cee is a veteran when it comes to the local Sydney scene. Having DJed in the Harbour City for over 16 years, he has witnessed firsthand the growth and evolution of the Australian sound. We spoke to Mistah Cee about the progression of the Australian hip-hop scene, the vitality of resonating with rap and how music and comedy are symbiotic within his character.
A passion and appreciation for music effortlessly beams through the now South-West Sydney based DJ, who has been hustling to grow in the music industry since he was just 17 years old. From duplicating CD mixtapes and mailing them out from the post office, to personally handing them into barber shops asking them to be played, the rising scratcher Mistah Cee is slowly becoming a household name now with over 85K Tik Tok followers.
Australian hip-hop no longer has just one accent attached to its title, with multiple artists dispersing into a variety of avenues in the scene, to the point where the typical ‘Aussie rap’ intonation is almost undefinable. Mistah Cee, who was predominantly brought up on American West Coast rappers like Tupac and Snoop Dogg, opened up to WAEVZ AU about his initial perspective on Australian rap pioneers, and how he found the “Aussie twang” difficult to resonate with while he was growing up.
“For a very long time I would just turn the cold shoulder and be like nup change the song, I don’t want to listen to this…When Bliss n Eso came out and Hilltop Hoods they were dope, don't get me wrong man, they are weapons but Aussie accent…I couldn’t Identify with it and I wasn't drawn to it.”
In recalling the moment in time where he realised just how popular the Hilltop Hoods and Bliss n Eso were becoming, Mistah Cee attributes his own love of the scene to the rise of Polynesian artists.
“I remember DJ-ing in Wollongong when I was 18 and…I had to open up for Bliss n Eso and I was playing like Slim Thug, like Lil’ Flip (starts singing Sunshine - Lil’ Flip) and there was like an ocean of Aussie kids and… [Bliss n Eso] came out and the crowd erupted. I was like… what the fuck like a lot of Aussie kids listen to this,” he recounts.
“So the craziest thing for me right, I’ve been DJing for years, then ONEFOUR come out with ‘The Message’ but just before that it was Pistol Pete & Enzo and I was like this is 2 boys from minority groups doing hip-hop, they fucking sound like me, they sound like all my mates I’m like this is fucking mad.”
Coincidentally, following the come up of Australian drill Mistah Cee had developed a new found love and appreciation for ‘OG’ rap from artists like Kerser and now alludes to the refreshing sound of Australian artists like Rops1.
“When you warm up to it and you’re like hang on, a big part of it is just the style of how they finesse bars, how they can put words together and how they can make your head spin where you’re like - fuck that’s dope.”
In 2009, Mistah Cee gained significant insight into a burgeoning Australian hip-hop scene that was still in its infancy whilst touring with The Game for his Australian LAX tour. Traveling to 5 capital cities, with Sydney being the second last show at Big Top Luna Park, there were 2 local supporting performers before The Game, who went by the names of Kid Mac and Lil Soulja.
“I remember I had to DJ for this artist called Kid Mac and he’s from Maroubra, and he was like ‘Maroubra stand up’ and there were semi-crickets like, it was heavy.”
Compared to the Bliss n Eso concert there was a huge cultural difference in the audience. From all “Aussie kids” at Bliss n Eso’s Wollongong concert to a majority of people from “Lebanese, Islander and Koori…” background, at The Game’s, the audience interaction had diverged.
“The second last act that came out before The Game was Lil Soulja, he’s a (Middle Eastern rapper) from South West back in the day and the first words he said when he came out on to the stage was “South-West Sydney put your fucking hands up” and bro the place erupted I was like South-West damn.
“So, to see that change from Wollongong to then 2009 seeing South-West Sydney and then the evolution into like ONEFOUR, like the scene has completely changed, and I’m loving it.”
The evolution is undeniably clear and it’s fair to say that Mistah Cee has experienced and witnessed the new wave of Australian hip-hop and will continue to spectate how it evolves. But how did Mistah Cee’s passion for music surface? His love for every genre of music spawns from his dad Bobby C who was a Sydney-based percussionist.
“He would go around to festivals in Stanmore and Newtown…I was like 7 or 8 years old carrying drums, setting them up on stage and just watching like heaps of people…chanting up and down.
“What’s crazy is like he would freestyle drum just like bongos, congos…I freestyle now, scratching and it’s like the same as the drum pattern and it trips me out cos I’m like ‘fuck I’m like doing what my dad did’.”
Bobby C was also a stand-up comedian whose personality shines infectiously through Mistah Cee as his persona in front of the camera is nothing less than captivating and charismatic, a trait which instantly gauges viewers. Tapped into all cultures, Mistah Cee has recently DJed for Lisi, the 046, and even for NRL star Josh Addo-Carr’s launch of his Let’s Trot range of apparel. Through DJing, Mistah Cee has the opportunity to showcase Australian hip-hop talent, and to consistently bring together Sydney’s music community from all aspects. Get Mistah Cee on your radar because he’s bound to make it there sooner or later.
Words by Violet Murphy