The Hip-Hop crew Brethren are a two-man team of Mistery (Matthew Peet) & Wizdm (Claude Rodriguez). Both individuals are veterans of the hip-hop scene in their own right. Mistery is one of the most renowned graffiti writers in Australia, a crucial member of internationally recognized graff crews Bounty Hunterz & 21st Century.
He is also a b- boy who teaches breakdancing to hundreds of kids through the breaking team he started Magic Villains, and is a key member of the Sony performance crew “Atrac 3”. Wizdm is no slouch either, an awarded expert of “popping & locking” [elements of b boying], an accomplished drummer and a very sort after producer…
The Beginning: To get the picture of this crew’s story, we have to got back to around 1989. The scene is Heavenly Taste Pizza (Sydney) where Mistery, a young white Sydney inner-city kid who is a member of the Superstars Graffiti crew, is working. A young Chilean guy who had pioneered the breakdance movement while living in Adelaide for 4 years, a great drummer/percussionist and a fledgling producer comes in for a pizza. They ended up hitting it off, discussing their mutual passions; Hip-Hop, B-Boying and spirituality. Both realized that they had something to bring to the table, and “Brethren Inc” was born. Immediately they started performing at local youth centres and festivals and were getting a little exposure around Sydney. In the early 90’s Def Wish Cast were doing great things for the newly formed aussie hip-hop scene and it was through their old friend and DWC member Sereck that Brethren received their first big break into the scene. With this they got great exposure at Kinselas’ “TTTP Jams” put together by promoter Scott Wolf and artist Code Blue of Sound Unlimited. It was from these beginnings that the boys started developing the live shows they are known for today. By constantly performing at underground gigs and by doing workshops at local community centres such as Redfern, Bankstown, St Ives, Campbelltown and Marrickville, they gathered a loyal following and a lot of respect from the hip-hop community. Wizdm states their motives plainly; “We feel that giving something positive back to the community is very important to us because when we were young there was nothing like what we have now, youth centres and under age shows etc. We want to show young people what they are capable of.”
The Rise: In those early days all Brethren had was a want to perform whenever & wherever possible. The local music industry on a whole was not really interested in hip-hop and rock and roll was the main choice of the average music listener. For the boys there were no long-term dreams of fame or fortune, they did what they did for the love of the art and the affinity with the culture. After performing alongside most fellow Australian hip-hop acts and a few big name international artists, they recorded their first four song self-titled demo on cassette in 1992. The recording was very popular and was circulated quickly throughout the grassroots industry. It was from this recording that Brethren landed a deal with a new record label interested in supporting local independent artists; “MDS” [a subsidiary of Mushroom Records], and released their ground breaking “Big Brother” E.P. in 1994.
Mistery explains some surprise support they received back then “The classic and popular TV show “Simon Townsends Wonderworld” came to the party for us in the form of offering to make us a free music video for the track “Cruisin'”, looking back now it’s pretty funny, but back then it was huge!” The video went on to screen a few times on the S.T.W.W show and got rotation on ABC’s Rage & Channel V. It was a crucial part of a locally produced production “Spooky Tricks” that was sold all over the world and got Brethren international admirers. MDS then released their widely acclaimed maxi-single “Slingshot” in 1995. Sadly the label went the way of the buffalo but that didn’t stop Brethren appearing on shows such as Channel Vs Soup Kitchen, Jabba’s Room 208, SBS’s Alchemy and in the SBS documentary “Basic Equipment”. Wizdm also found the time, in 1996, to record his first solo album that he funded, recorded & produced entirely himself. Titled “Words of Wizdm” the independent release got glowing reviews with all underground hip-hop critics and listeners alike. The boys have also featured on many compilations and been guest artists on many albums, here’s a look at the highlights: Def Wish Cast’s “Knights of the Underground Tables”, “MY MY”, “Home Brews 2”, “Basic Equipment”, “Hip-Hop A Place Of Peace”, “4 Elements” and “Culture of Kings 2”. Brethren have also performed at countless festivals such as Glebe festival, Marrickville festival, Granville festival, Burwood festival, Blackstump Music festival, A.G.M.F., Sonfest, The Big Day Out and Livid.
In 2000 the Brethren boys teamed up with the small independent record label Mustard Records and launched a compilation project “In Da Midst”. Over 18 tracks from emerging artists from australia and New Zealand, Wizdm produced a third of the project that went on to sell well over 1500 units by word of mouth alone. The project coincided with a national tour that saw Brethren team up with acclaimed U.S. hip-hop artist “Vex Da Vortex” from the group BoogieMonsters plus many other artists featured on the compilation. The tour packed out venues all over the east coast of Australia, from The Lounge night club in Melbourne, to the Nexus youth centre on the Gold Coast and all stops in between.
Since 2006 Mistery has led a Christian hip hop movement Krosswerdz known colloquially as the “hip-hop church”. Krosswerdz runs creative arts programs for young people, collaboration projects for artists, in the gospel music and hip hop scene, as well as monthly faith-based services. Wizdm continues to work as a beat-producer and mentor for many Australian emcees.
Now: For the past few years both Wizdm and Mistery have been working on individual solo albums, Unrelenting, and Way of the Warrior as well as a 20 year Brethren anniversary album Bastion which saw it’s release at the end of last year through Krosswerdz Recordings. Mistery and Wizdm have rocked crowds non-stop for 20years. To celebrate this milestone they have released a new album Bastion. Featuring some of the most respected names in the game such as; Reason, Def Wish Cast, Baba Israel, Brotha Black, DJ Mathmatics etc, Bastion is destined to be a classic album in the story of the Australian hip hop scene. With a heritage in graffiti, DJing, B-boying, popping and locking Brethren represent hip hop in every aspect and continue to bring it.
We found the above copy of an old hip hop documentary ‘The Mistery Of Hip Hop’ featuring Brethren. The show first aired in Australia, on Sunday August 6th 2006, (ABC-Compass). It is pretty old but we thought it was fitting. The show goes for about half an hour, so it’s worth a quick look.