Kia ora friends. Before we go any further, the first season of the Aotearoa Hip-Hop: The Music, The People, The History podcast is out now, available through Rova, Spotify and Apple Podcasts. I’ve mentioned this project a bunch of times here, so won’t relitigate things too much. Suffice to say, working on it has made for a long and challenging two and a half (maybe three?) years. I’ve learned a lot from the process, and I’m excited that we can share with those of you who choose to listen to the untold stories and urban legends of the early days of Hip-Hop in New Zealand. Season one covers 1980 to 1996, season two (dropping next year) will pick up where we left off.
THANK YOU NOTES:
First off, thank you to Phil Bell aka DJ Sirvere for recommending me to Rova for research and writing work on this project. It was an honor to work alongside you at Back2Basics (the Aotearoa Hip-Hop magazine) in the late 2000s, and it was an honour renew our working relationship on this project.
Richie Culph, Asher Bastion, Grant Brodie, Lisa Diedricks, Laura Spence, Nick Brown, Rorie Macgregor, Alex King, Tegan Yorworth, Rebecca Frank and the team past and present at Rova, Mai FM and Mediaworks. Thanks for your support and assistance throughout this process. It was never going to be easy, and then a global pandemic happened. You can only laugh really.
Mareko, thank you for recording our intro for us. Actually, thank you for recording three intros for us? G.O.A.T status.
Everyone we interviewed for the podcast, everyone we couldn’t interview for the podcast, everyone we still intend to interview for season two. Thank you for your contributions and service within this thing we call Hip-Hop. Together, you’ve helped shape and change history. Not just in this country, but sometimes abroad. The legacy is rich, deep and seemingly endless.
To Sani Sagala and Gareth Shute, thank you for meeting up with us in the library that day. Both of your thoughts were invaluable to the early stages of this process. Sani, it’s been great to be able to ask you questions and get to know you better over the last two years. Gareth, thank you for all the work you’ve done over the last two (?) decades to document Hip-Hop in Aotearoa.
Manuel Bundy, Chip Matthews, Kas Futialo aka Tha Feelstyle, Don Luchito, Dom Nola, Simon Grigg, Sarah Thomson, Peter Blake, Andrew Penhallow, Christina Fuemana, James Waterhouse, Hiran Benton, Alan Jansson, Tee Pee (The Goat), Kos 1.6.3, Kenny McFadden, Peter McLennan, DJ Moondog Mark (the real OG), Anton Carter, Richie Mills, Ladi6, Parks, Charlie Brown, Junior Satele, DJ Raw, Brotha D, Murray Cammick, Chris Bourke, thank you for sharing stories, MP3s, answering questions, etc. I know I’m forgetting people here. Sorry!
My family and friends. I don’t know how you put up with this, but you did. As always, you have my love and respect.
April K. Henderson, I don’t really know you, but reading your Dancing Between Islands: Hip Hop and the Samoan Diaspora essay in The Vinyl Ain't Final: Hip Hop and the Globalization of Black Popular Culture helped clarify a lot of my thoughts. Respect due.
Finally, everyone I’ve forgotten, everyone who listens, those who matter to me now, and those who will matter who I am yet to meet. THANK YOU.
WHAT I’VE BEEN LISTENING TO:
Teddy Bryant, In The Beginning (NBN)
Andreas from Frederiksberg Records put me onto South Carolina’s Teddy Bryant and mentioned he reminded him of D’Angelo. I showed the record to Don Luchito, who compared him to a young Luther Vandross. My guy Dam G made a Phonte analogy, and from what I understand, Onra is involved in the label. My mate Trudi, who I met through Nadia Reid said “This is mean hard.” Basically, give it a listen. What up Teddy!
Theon Cross, Intra-I (New Soil)
I saw Surly and Stinky Jim tweeting about this record, so I had to pull up and purchase it off Bandcamp. Reflecting his own heritage, the young London-based virtuoso tuba player and composer Theon Cross melds jazz with dub, hip-hop, soca, grime and other sounds connected to the Afro-Caribbean diaspora. It’s also worth nothing that the album includes guest appearances from a range of vocalists like Remi Graves, Shumba Maasai, Afronaut Zu, Ahnansé, Consensus and Oren Marshall. Theon normally doesn’t collaborate like that. A breakout work.
Curtis Harding, If Words Were Flowers (Anti- Records)
Andreas recommended this one as well. Idiosyncratic outlier soul music from Atlanta, Georgia’s Curtis Harding. Curtis is a vocalist, guitarist, drummer and percussionist. Supported by a stellar cast of instrumentalists and backing vocalists, he uses If Words Were Flowers to summon up a joyful, celebratory and psychedelic journey.
WHAT I’VE BEEN READING:
DJ MAG: Fresh Kicks 164 - Ebb & Texture
Christchurch, New Zealand duo Ebb & Texture drift from drill, dubstep and grime into blistering UK techno, breaks and jungle in their Fresh Kicks mix, and chat to Eoin Murray about their local scene and landmark EP for Sicaria Sound’s Cutcross Recordings.
WORDMONT: Chill in the Hour of Chaos – Interference Festival 1994, Berlin. (Director’s Cut)
A condensed version of Oli Warwick’s story on the Interference Festival 1994 appeared on the Red Bull Music Academy Daily website – you can read that published version here. The original copy submitted was a much longer read, perhaps more of interest to those involved or with a really keen interest in the event. He was given permission to publish that in full here, so if you want a long read on a one-of-a-kind event, sit back and enjoy.
TL;DW: If you enjoyed the Susumu Yokota article I wrote with Ken Hidaka, you’ll want to read this.
CRACK MAG: Joy Orbison: Outside looking in
It’s always hard to tell whether Peter O’Grady is joking. “I’ve never felt like I’m that popular,” he tells me, somehow blending sarcasm with humility. “I just feel I have a name that people remember.” Richard Akingbehin on Joy Orbison.
THE GUARDIAN: In Kawerau one thing impedes the effort to vaccinate Māori: New Zealand’s history.
Low Covid vaccination rates reflect practical barriers – but Māori have good reason to distrust the government. International news editor Bonnie Malkin introduces Morgan Godfery’s personal investigation of this fraught history.
The Japanese classical guitar virtuoso Ayane Shino has recorded an EP of Susumu Yokota covers. I interviewed her last week. Expect a story soon.
The second season of Radio New Zealand’s NZ Hip-Hop Stand Up video series has been live for a couple of weeks. Video by video, they explore the stories behind some of Aotearoa’s classic hip-hop songs. It makes for a good companion watch alongside out podcast.
Thanks to Todd L. Burns and the Music Journalism Insider for spotlighting the Susumu Yokota retrospective I put together for Wax Poetics with Ken Hidaka.