Although Pete Miser isn't a huge name in the hip-hop world, the Asian-American rapper has received his share of favorable reviews and enjoys a small cult following. The MC favors a jazz-influenced style of alternative rap; De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Gang Starr, the Roots, Digable Planets, and the Jungle Brothers are the sort of East Coast artists he is usually compared to. Miser isn't one of the more eccentric alternative rappers, but his unthreatening image, intellectual lyrics, and fondness for jazz-influenced tracks have landed him in the alterna-rap category. The Brooklyn resident is far from a gangsta rapper; he doesn't rap about thug life, and his lyrics have favored what hip-hoppers call the "positive tip." But that isn't to say that Miser writes mindless fluff lyrics; racism, nuclear weapons and, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, are among the social and political topics he has tackled.
Although most of Miser's influences are East Coast influences, he isn't from the East Coast originally. Miser was born Peter Ho on February 3, 1971, in Portland, OR and grew up in that Pacific Northwest city, where he led and managed the alternative rap group Five Fingers of Funk in the '90s. The group's name was a fun way to acknowledge his Asian heritage; their name was a play on the 1973 martial arts film Five Fingers of Death. It was during the '90s that Miser started his own label, Ho-Made Media, which put out Fingers' releases as well as Miser's first solo album, What It Be (a 1996 release). Between Fingers' discs and What It Be, Ho-Made Media sold over 20,000 units in the '90s; not the sort of platinum sales that Snoop Doggy Dogg and Jay-Z are known for, but a demonstration of the fact that Miser had acquired a small following and made a name for himself in the alterna-rap underground.
After spending six years with Fingers, Miser moved to New York City and settled in Brooklyn. Miser was living in that borough when, in the early 2000s, he was hired as a DJ for Dido's band and went on an international tour with the British trip-hop singer. In 2002, Miser released his second album, Radio Free Brooklyn, on Ho-Made Media. ~ Alex Henderson