As the small Australian hip-hop scene grew, it developed an identity influenced by, but distinct from, that of American hip-hop. Straddling the line between the two is Bliss N Eso. Originally known as Bliss N Esoterikizm, a name that led to problems with pronunciation among their fans, the group consists of MCs Bliss (Johnathan Notley) and Eso (Max MacKinnon) as well as DJ Izm (Tarik Ejjamai). The two rappers are easily told apart on their records by the difference in accents between American-born Bliss and Australian Eso.
The group first met while attending the same high school in Sydney in the 1990s. At that point the local hip-hop scene was so small that they thought they were the only such group in the country. Striking out on their own they released an EP called The Arrival, following it with a mixtape. In 2004 they signed with Melbourne label Obese Records, home of the Hilltop Hoods, and released a full-length album called Flowers in the Pavement. Production was handled by Bliss as well as Weapon X and Suffa of the Hilltop Hoods. The group released another mixtape to promote the album. This promotional technique, common in the US, was almost unheard of in Australia. Switching labels to Illusive Sounds, part of Mushroom Records, they released Day of the Dog in 2006. It was re-released with a disc of remixes by M-Phazes as Day of the Dog: Phazed Out. In 2007 they met with the touring Zulu Connections Choir and recorded a version of Citizen Cope's song "Bullet and a Target" with them at the home studio of Jimmy Barnes in Sydney. Funds raised from sales of the single were given to the Oaktree Foundation charity. ~ Jody Macgregor, Rovi