Opening Pez’s press release was not the most upbeat moment of my day.
‘Diagnosed with Graves’ Disease... fans wondered why Pez had failed to follow up his first album... took time out to look after his health and re-group.’ I look down at my own notes, confused. This sounds suspiciously like an episode of House
This is the guy that put out that album with 'The Festival Song', right? You know, the one about sneaking booze into festivals and having fun? Because this press release is making me sadder than Stephanie Rice losing her swimming final.
Soon after his 2008 LP, 'A Mind Of My Own', debuted at #19 on the ARIA Urban Chart, Pez was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease and his world ground to a halt. For a rapper nearly forgotten, getting back in the game wasn't the easiest of exploits.
"There's been a lot of soul searching and working things out. I just felt a bit lost. For a while there was that negative mentality of 'Why does this have to happen to me?' you know? Just when you're starting to get something good happening. It was a battle.
"After my last album it [was] about 18 months until I actually tried to write a song. It was pretty weird for a while, it took a while to get back into the swing of things and [to] remember why you're making music in the first place instead of just trying to force it out."
The fact that Pez is back at all warrants the making of an inspirational TV movie. Graves’ Disease isn't comparable to the common flu. It's serious stuff. On hearing the list of symptoms, even Ghandi would be like, 'No thanks, I'm good’.
"It's hyperactive, so you just can't focus. Your mind's out of control. You lose all this weight. Your eyes go all weird and bulgy. A doctor tells you that if you don't take 'this' drug you've got a death sentence. And the people I knew that had tried to use these synthetic drugs, [they] tend [to] have their thyroids taken out and live on these hormone supplements for the rest of their lives. I remember thinking, 'This doesn't sound like how I want my life to turn out'.
"I did a lot of research into alternative stuff which doctors tell you you're crazy to take at the start. But I've been able to reverse the whole thing and it seems to have stabilised and gone back to normal. It kind of felt like, if I was able to manifest this disease ... then I could fix it. It seems to have been that way. But looking back it's like the more you feel like yourself, the more you realise just how fucked up you were."
It may be a bold call, but perhaps this medical hiatus will be what solidifies Pez as the cream of Australia's hip hop crop.
Of course, we'll have to wait for his album to drop to know for sure, but you get the distinct feeling that these last couple of years of soul-searching haven't gone to waste.
"It's easy to get caught up in the hype and craziness of what's going on. To be able to step back from it all and see it for what it is... live a different life for a while, can be quite inspiring. It's been a bit of a journey which comes through in a lot of the songs. I'm in a different place, I feel like I'm coming out of that hole, getting back out there. [The next album] feels quite personal to some degree."
While Pez's second album will drop later this year, his presence has already been felt on 360's latest effort, Falling And Flying
. Is an album with 360 on this rapper's to-do list?
"We were originally gonna do that... that's why I wanted him to be on 'The Festival Song' in the first place. It felt like that would be the single and I wanted to promote our thing together. Hopefully once I put this album out... well, Six is killing it now so he'll have to do another album, but hopefully after that there'll be a little window for us to get together and do something." Pez will perform at Sprung Hip Hop Festival at the RNA Showgrounds On Saturday November 10.