People are currently expressing a great deal of surprise that the hip-hop term “diss” (that is to disrespect someone) first appears in the December 10th 1906 edition of Perth’s own Sunday Times.
Those of us familiar with the history of our fair state however know full well that rap was an important and influential part of Western Australian history and politics from the 1880s right up until the first world war.
Take for instance Lord John Forrest’s maiden speech to Parliament in 1890…
I’m Lord John Forrest, G.C.M.G.,
Raised in the hood of Bunbury,
With Dr John Ferguson my Pop did sail,
I learned to rhyme at the feet of Bishop Hale,
First native born son to become a surveyor,
For the Lands and Survey crew of Western Australia,
Searched the deserts for Leichhardt with Tommy Windich,
Then from Esperance to Adelaide showing Eyre he’s my bitch,
Pinned the source of the Murchison down real pretty,
Then cruised the red centre to Adelaide city…
It continues like this for several paragraphs, but they’re mostly just demands for a knighthood and/or railway and poorly worded insults leveled at John Septimus Roe (let’s not even get into the infamous East Coast/West Coast feud with Sir Henry Parkes).