The trio; American MC Bliss (Jonathan "The Rapist" Notley), Australian MC Eso (Max MacKinnon) and DJ Izm (Tarik Ejjamai) of Moroccan heritage have been friends (and have rapped together) since high school. Notley moved to Australia in 1992 when he was thirteen and met MacKinnon at the Glenaeon Steiner School in Sydney. "When I got to Australia, I met Eso (MacKinnon) and he was the only guy at my school into hip-hop. It was so scarce you'd be lucky to find a hip-hop record in a store let alone a whole section." - Jonathan "Bliss" Notley "Back then hip hop was basically non-existent; there was no urban or hip-hop section in the CD stores. You'd be lucky to find a couple of albums like a Public Enemyalbum or something if you went to the CD stores. So I guess that's one of the reasons why Max, who's Eso, and I kinda bonded at high school, I think, because he was really the only other guy in the school who was into hip-hop." - Jonathan "Bliss" Notley MacKinnon later moved to Kuranda State High School, in Queensland, which is where he met Ejjamai. The group initially went by the name of 'Bliss N Esoterikizm', but that proved to be too much of a mouthful for most people.
In 2000 they issued their first release, the EP The Arrival, under the name 'Bliss N Esoterikizm', which was followed by a mixtape CD. They released their debut album, Flowers in the Pavement on Obese Records in 2004. Bliss N Eso were the winners in the Hip Hop category at the 2003 Music Oz Awards and nominees for Artist of the Year in 2004.
The group then switched labels to Illusive Sounds and released their second official album, Day of the Dog, on March 4, 2006. The album features production from Bliss, Weapon X, Suffa, and MC Motley, among others. It also features guest spots from British emcees MC Motley and Mystro, as well as fellow Sydney MC, Hyjak. Day of the Dog debuted at #43 on the ARIA Albums Chart, making it the first Australian hip-hop release to debut in the top 50. The group undertook a national tour in March and April of that year to support the album. Day of the Dog was then entirely remixed by Gold Coast producer M-Phazes and released later that year as Day of the Dog: Phazed Out. The album was nominated for Best Urban Release at the 2007 ARIA Awards; the award was won by the Hilltop Hoods for The Hard Road: Restrung.
The group's third single, "Then Till Now", which contains remixed instrumental elements from the Hilltop Hoods song "Riding Under One Banner", received airplay on Triple J, rageand Video Hits. "Mad Tight", their fourth single, was played on radio stations Triple J, 3RRR, PBS, and on FBi. The music video was shown on rage.
In 2007 Bliss N Eso travelled to North America, playing shows in the northwest of North America, including a performance at the Whistler 2007 Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival. "We did a small run of the northwest states, around Portland area and then went up to Whistler in Canada and we did a sold out show in Whistler, which was unreal, to go all the way across the world and have a whole bunch of Aussies screaming at you" - Jonathan Notley In October, 2007 they released the first single of their album "Bullet and a Target", featuring the Connections Zulu Choir (a 21 piece African Choir from South Africa), which was recorded at Jimmy Barnes' home studio in Sydney and reached #46 on the ARIA Singles Chart. The track features a remixed version of Citizen Cope's song by the same title. 100% of all profits from the sale of the song goes to The Oaktree Foundation, Australia's only youth-run international aid and development organisation.
Following up on their collaboration with the choir, Bliss N Eso embarked on a journey in June, 2007 with MTV and the Oaktree Foundation to some of the poorest regions in South Africato complete the track and shoot the video clip for "Bullet and a Target". Bliss N Eso also shot a documentary with Evermore produced by MTV, aimed at creating awareness about the challenges faced by developing communities in Africa. The film clip and 30 minute documentary aired exclusively on MTV and received attention from the media and the public. Recently the group have been nominated for the 'Good Karma Award' for these efforts at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards.
The group's latest album, Flying Colours, was released on April 26, 2008 - coinciding with a national tour by the group, along with True Live, Funkoars and The Winnie Coopers. The album debuted a week later at #10 on the Australian ARIA Albums Chart, and it remained in the ARIA Top 100 for the following 12 weeks. The album was nominated for a J Award in August 2008, and also nominated for an ARIA award for Best Urban Release.
In August, 2008 Bliss N Eso performed at the Splendour in the Grass festival and at the Trackside Festival in Canberra. In September they went on the road for their most successful national tour to date, with sell out performances across the country, concluding with a sold out home coming show at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney to a capacity crowd of 2500 patrons. They will be touring Canada at the end of the year and are planning to re-release Flying Colours in early 2009, with a bonus DVD. The DVD will contain a live performance that the band plan to film and record at the Metro Theatre in Sydney.
Bliss N Eso appeared for the first time in a Triple J Hottest 100 with three entries in the 2008 countdown; "Eye of the Storm" at number 40, "The Sea is Rising" at number 61 and "Woodstock 2008" at number 94. "Happy in My Hoody" failed to make the Hottest 100 but did come in at number 136.
In 2009 the success of Bliss N Eso continued with their Flying Colours album remaining in the official ARIA charts for 54 weeks and counting. They also performed at the Sound Reliefconcert in front of 82,000 people at Melbourne's MCG on 14 March 2009. They were the only hip-hop act to perform at the concert, which raised over 8 million dollars for Victoria's bushfirevictims.
In April 2009 Bliss N Eso announced a major city Australian tour which includes two shows at Melbourne's iconic festival hall as well as the largest venues they have played to date across the country. Their first show at Festival Hall sold out in four days making it the fastest selling Australian hip hop show of all time selling to a capacity of 5,100 patrons. The early sales of the 'Flying Colours Live Tour' cement Bliss N Eso as one of the best and strongest live acts in the Country.
On Sunday April 26, 2009, Bliss N Eso became the first Australian hip hop act to perform on Rove, where they performed "Woodstock 2008" and "The Sea Is Rising" to a live television audience broadcast nationally on the Ten Network.
In May 2009 Bliss N Eso received two APRA award nominations in the category, 'Best Urban Works' for "The Sea is Rising" and "Woodstock 2008". On 14 June "Flying Colours" became only the second Australian hip hop album to be certified gold, after being in the ARIA Charts for 58 weeks. The group's song "Field of Dreams" has also been included on EA Sports boxing video game Fight Night Round 4. "Basically, EA Australia can submit one track that's Australian for an international game. There hadn't been an Australian track on a release for a while actually and the 'Fight Night' opportunity came about and EA Australia really liked "Field of Dreams" and thought it worked well with the theme of the game, so they put it forward to the International EA and it got accepted! The fact that it's out there and a million people are going to be playing this thing - it's obviously a big game and the fact that our song's on there, we're stoked. It's pretty awesome, man!" - Jonathan Notley Bliss N Eso released their live album Flying Colours Live in June 2009 to coincide with another national tour of Australia. The album features a bonus track, "On Tour", which has received significant airplay from Triple J and includes a DVD, featuring their MTV nominated documentary, 'Out of Africa', and the group's live performance at Sydney's Metro Theatre. Following their national tour they will be working in the recording studio on their fourth studio album, with producers M-Phazes and Hattori Hanzo.
In October 2009 Bliss N Eso became the first Australian hip-hop act to tour the USA. Bliss N Eso embarked on a twenty-one date tour with Canadian hip-hop group, Swollen Members, together with Las Vegas MC BIG B and DJ Klaw. Their tour bus dubbed 'The Black Pearl' was later hit by a train and destroyed while on its way back to California at the end of the tour. Three people were on board but no one was injured.
On May 17, 2010, Bliss N Eso released "Down by the River", the first single off their upcoming fourth studio album, Running on Air. The single premiered on Triple J's "2010" new music show with Richard Kingsmill the night before. "Down by the River" was the fourth most added track to Australian radio on the weekend of May 14, which included across the board airplay on Triple J nationally, Nova FM, Hot30 and many other community and commercial radio networks. In July 2010 Bliss N Eso released a free track called "Golden Years", also fromRunning on Air. Following the release of the single the band embarked on the "Down By The River" tour of Australia with sold out shows in major cities across the Country.
On July 30, 2010 Bliss N Eso released their fourth studio album Running on Air. The album went straight to number one on the Australian iTunes album chart within minutes of its release. Triple J and Nova FM both featured several tracks from the album in the lead up to its release and the album received many positive reviews throughout the media and internet.
On August 8, 2010 Bliss N Eso's fourth studio album Running on Air debuted on the Australian ARIA charts at number one. It was the first album to knock Eminem off the top spot in 6 weeks and received significant acclaim for this feat. Bliss N Eso also had 2 albums and 3 singles in the Urban charts during this week. Less than 2 weeks after its release Running On Air was certified Gold in Australia with sales in excess of 35,000. The Album went on to receive multiple awards nominations including the Triple J Album Of The Year award, Channel V Australian Artist of the Year award, Independent Music Award & two ARIA awards.
In late august Bliss n Eso announced they would be heading back over to America. The band teamed up with the legendary Kottonmouth Kings for a 26 date run across the USA. This was the bands 2nd US tour. Bliss n Eso have recently played and been announced for various Australian summer festivals including The Big Day Out, Fat As Butter, Southbound, Full Noise, Another World, Time Out Festival & more.