After previously appearing as guest vocalists on a couple of P-Money tracks, Hamilton hip hop trio 4 Corners returned with the first of their own videos. “On the Downlow” is an uplifting, soul-sampling number and the video initially emphasises the soul by using a full band. Take that, Kendrick.
But a straight performance video just isn’t enough when 4 Corners have an important announcement to make: they’re from Hamilton, y’all. The band move outside, specifically to Boyes Park in central-ish Hamilton. They rap in front of the scenic fountains, but obviously the fountains were not cool enough, as a basketball hoop has been brought along to make the pretty park look a bit gritty and urban.
Back in the central city, there’a bit of graffiti on a wall next to the polytech, then they’re down to the Ferrybank park to pose by the Bridge Street Bridge, all lit up at night. Finally the whole gang pose in front the entrance to Hamilton Central. It’s a really bold, dramatic shot, though slightly undermined when you know that Hamilton Central is a bland mall, which always seems to be 90% empty shops. But hey, it has a big sign that looks cool in a music video.
This video serves a mini tour around Hamilton and it’s again inspired me to plot the locations on a Google map.
But here’s the thing. This dorky tour of Hamilton is cool and all, but there has to be a point where Hamilton bands move from “Wahey! We’re in Hamilton” and just use the 07 location as an incidental location, not focal point of the video.
Best bit: The killer line, “Sulphur’s in the air like Rotorua and Gomorrah.”
There’s also only one video missing from April, Che Fu’s uplifting number “Top Floor”. As it happens, I wrote a summary of this video in 2002. It sounds amazing:
Che Fu and his posse are hanging out on the front porch of a large wooden lodge. A young lady hands out pieces of chocolate cake and MC OJ and the Rhythm Slave pass out cups of instant coffee. With a very laid-back vibe, Che Fu spends most of the video sitting in a rocking chair, knitting. But just in case you think he’s turning into an old gran, in the middle of a song he turns into a robot and does a rap. But then it’s back to the porch. At the end of the song he’s finished knitting. He admires the, er, long red thing he’s made, tosses the ball of wool up in the air and it magically transforms into a snow ball and then Che’s snowboarding off into the sunset.
Along came the Fast Crew, which included Kid Deft who later reverted to his maiden name, Dane Rumble. “Mr Radio” was their debut single, a rant about the difficulty of getting play-listed – something that would soon cease to be a problem for the Crew. The single reached #15 on the Independent NZ chart.
Christchurch band Fuce have their final NZOA-funded video “Restless”. The group had plans to relocate to Auckland in 2003, but I don’t know what (if anything) happened next.
In 2002 I wrote this about the “Restless” video: This video uses two visual clichés, one old, one getting old. The first is where the camera jerks about as if it’s trying to find something to focus on. The second is when the camera moves as if the power of the music is making the camera shake. Yeah, it’s a low-budget NzonAir video, but it’s looking ok. It just could have looked better if it had just shown the band playing the song, instead of all the dumb camera tricks.
Lavina Williams featuring Emily Williams “Higher Lovin'”
Ex-Ma-V-Elle singer Lavina Williams teams up with her younger sister (and future Australian Idol star) Emily for the soul jam “Higher Lovin'”. Their sisterly harmonies sound fabulous.
Crystal Fitisemanu “Sunny Summer’s Day”
I’m not sure if the video for Crystal Fitisemanu’s song “Sunny Summer’s Day” was made. There’s no mention of it online, but there is a brief mention of a $3000 grant in 2001 from Creative New Zealand for Crystal to record five songs.
P-Money featuring 4 Corners “The Xpedition”
“The Xpedition” is another track from P-Money’s debut album, this time featuring 4 Corners on vocals.
This month’s consolation video is “Verbally Decapitating” by DJ Logikal. It was the winner of a competition that TVNZ’s after-hours music show M2 held, with the prize being a $10,000 fancy music video made for the winning track. This is a throw-back to how things were in the days before NZOA, where TVNZ (and its predecessors) made music videos for bands. Though in this case, it was a heavily promoted contest with an alcohol sponsor. The video – which is a really is a proper fancy video – sees DJ Logikal infecting downtown Auckland with his scratched-up beats, and it features pre-development Britomart for some gritty urban decay. It visually name-checks P-Money, and incorporates the song’s samples by having people on the street lip-syncing the words. The video rightly won Best Editor for James Anderson at the 2003 Kodak Music Clip Awards.
So, one afternoon in 2002 I was visiting my friend Dylan who worked in an office off Karangahape Road, sharing space with a TV production company and various other industry folk. Walking past one office, Dylz showed me a guy hard at work editing a music video. Giant orange letters floated around the screen, accompanied with the sound of Eastern European music mixed with hip hop stylings. I didn’t know what I was looking at, but there was something most intriguing about this video.
It turned out that the guy hard at work was director Wade Shotter and the video was P-Money’s second single “Synchronize Thoughts”, featuring Scribe and hip hop trio 4 Corners. It was another track that proved P-Money’s remarkable skills as a DJ and a producer, and further established Scribe as a hot young MC. Though, like previous single “Scribe 2001”, people tend to remember your name when it’s repeated throughout the chorus.
The video seems to have a somewhat higher budget than the DIY effort of “Scribe 2001”, but while it’s a simple set-up, the video has a slick, stylish look to it. The verses focus on the particular MC on vocal duty. They’re shot in the corner of a dark, shadowy room, and the minimal setting lets the lyrics stand out.
And it’s everyone in when the chorus comes along. Scribe takes the lead, with 4 Corners and P-Money backing him up. It’s a supremely confident video for a bunch of newcomers. But it’s pitched perfectly – it ain’t bragging if it’s true.
Best bit: the don’t-give-a-damn ending with just P-Money scratching.