October 2010: The Good Fun, The Jury & The Saints, The Naked and Famous, The Pink Pound Experience, Tyree, Young Lyre, Young Sid

A job through cardboard, colour vs bleak, hanging a picture, furry friends, bragging party, around the campfire, doing it for the kids.

Continue reading October 2010: The Good Fun, The Jury & The Saints, The Naked and Famous, The Pink Pound Experience, Tyree, Young Lyre, Young Sid

February 2009: Nesian Mystik, P-Money, Savage, SJD, Sleepy Kid, Smashproof

Car park smooth moves, sleep’s restless revenge, the island life, letter and numbers, Fountain by the fountain, and gotta get down on Friday.

Continue reading February 2009: Nesian Mystik, P-Money, Savage, SJD, Sleepy Kid, Smashproof

December 2008: Reb Fountain, Savage, Seth Haapu, State of Mind, The Black Dahlias, The Brunettes

A gloomy dell, Savage finds his groove, Seth vs the kid, robo-dragon terrorises Auckland, your auntie’s Keep Calm poster, love on skates.

Continue reading December 2008: Reb Fountain, Savage, Seth Haapu, State of Mind, The Black Dahlias, The Brunettes

August 2008: Pistol Youth, PNC, School For Birds, Smashproof, SideKickNick, State of Mind, Streetwise Scarlet

The golden girls, ’08, ’86 and ’63, an ornithology lesson, mucking around downtown, a drive through the streets, ’90s cool, and the city streets.

Continue reading August 2008: Pistol Youth, PNC, School For Birds, Smashproof, SideKickNick, State of Mind, Streetwise Scarlet

August 2007: Salmonella Dub, Scribe, Steriogram, Streetwise Scarlet, Surf City, The Brunettes

A board game, son of Canterbury, letterboxed action, back to the ’90s, a literal road movie, and furry fun.
Continue reading August 2007: Salmonella Dub, Scribe, Steriogram, Streetwise Scarlet, Surf City, The Brunettes

Dei Hamo “To Tha Floor!”

2004-dei-hamo-to-tha-floorThis is what the mid ’00s felt like. Peak hip hop, bling culture and Dei Hamo with a song that sounds like a regurgitation of all the popular music trends of the era. At the time it seemed very cool (the song reached number 5 in the singles chart) but now it just hasn’t held up.

Most of the video is Dei Hamo surrounded by a harem of hotties and various male members of the New Zealand hip hop community. The song’s lyrics are basically Dei Hamo bragging about how cool he is, how he’s a hit with the ladies.

He makes a reference to drinking “a whole 40 ounce of [malt] liquor”, or as it’s known in New Zealand, 1.2 litres of beer, which brings to mind the image of Dei Hamo spending most of the evening rushing off to toilet for a wee.

“Now move your body like a snake, ma,” he commands. Boringly, we just see one of the party girls dancing. I’d be more impressed if she dropped to the floor and started wiggling, hissing and biting.

The best thing about the video is that there is actually a lot of dancing in it. A whole lot of different dancers do their thing, with the centrepiece being some cool formation dancing. But then later, over the top of the song, there’s a lame Lord of the Rings Gollum skit for which there is no excuse.

If the song was about 90 seconds shorter, the video would be just fine. But as it is, it feels very self-indulgent in places.

Best bit: Awa from Nesian Mystik’s seductive eyebrow. I see you, boy.

Director: Chris Graham
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… lol-ita.

Tha Feelstyle “Su’Amalie/Ain’t Mad At You”

2004-tha-feelstyle-aint-mad-at-youThe very first video to be funded by NZOA was Moana and the Moahunters bilingual dance track “A E I O U”, but since then funded songs have been dominated by English language lyrics. So it’s thrilling to come across Tha Feelstyle delivering a supercool song that’s largely in Samoan. The song also uses an old Eurovision trick – have a hooky, singalong chorus in English and the non-English parts of the song won’t seem so isolating. The end result is a track that reached 27 in the singles chart.

The video is set in Samoa, with Tha Feelstyle returning to the islands after 20 years away. Right from the very start every shot is bustling with people and energy. Tha Feelstyle stomps around his village, surrounded by adoring kids who join in on the chorus.

There’s a sense that he’s the big dude from New Zealand returning to his hometown – and there’s a cool scene where Tha Feelstyle steps off the plane, wearing a lei of funsize Crunchie bars, and kisses the tarmac. This is followed by a lovely scene where the aunties and uncles warmly embrace him. But it’s not all adoration. About halfway though the song stops for a small scene where an uncle had some words for Tha Feelstyle, who looks suitably told.

There’s a lot packed into this video. It serves as both a record of Tha Feelstyle’s homecoming and just him mucking around with some local kids. And then there’s the scene with Tha Feelstyle mucking around with a machete in some long grass, like a kid who’d rather pretend to be a warrior than do his chores.

Best bit: one does not understand much Samoan, but one understands the international gesture for “smoking a jazz cigarette”.

Director: Chris Graham
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… some guys in suits.

Scribe “Dreaming”

2003-scribe-dreamingAt the 2013 Silver Scrolls awards, Scribe surprised a lot of people by singing in his and Mark Vanilau’s performance of the Dave Dobbyn song “It Dawned on Me”. But here’s Scribe singing on a track 10 years earlier. According to the Crusader album retrospective on Grindin, Scribe originally wrote the chorus for Che Fu to sing, but P-Money convinced Scribe to sing it himself – and it works.

“Dreaming” is a testament to Scribe’s childhood, his hard work at becoming an MC, and his dreams for the future. And it includes a simple, sung chorus – a hint at his other talents.

Directed by frequent collaborator Chris Graham, the video keeps things simple and uses a lot of old photos to illustrate Scribe’s early years. The first 20 seconds of the video is timelapse footage of clouds – a deliberate choice by Graham to avoid obvious hip hop iconography. Then we step inside Scribe’s photo album – a cool-dude little boy, a surly teen, a budding MC.

We also catch up with present-day Scribe hunched over a notebook, writing down his lyrics. This isn’t a fancy Moleskine – it’s a cheap-arse, dog-eared notebook, with lyrics written in all available spaces.

He’s also rapping in a recording studio and freestyling on the street with his friends – all signs of a successful young MC, someone who turned those notebooks full of lyrics into songs.

Near the end of the video we get a recap of his previous music videos, including some behind-the-scenes bits from the Chris Graham-directed ones. It’s a nice touch, especially as his videography contains some of the best New Zealand music videos.

Best bit: Scribe playing with the dog on the “Not Many” video set.

Other good thing: YouTube commenter Cruzin Streets says, “For whatever reason this film clip makes me feel better when i’m down.”

Director: Chris Graham
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a homecoming.

Scribe “Not Many – The Remix!”

2003-scribe-not-many-remixHere’s a funny thing. The double A-side single of “Stand Up”/”Not Many” spent a total of 12 weeks at number one, but when the “Not Many – The Remix!” single was released, it was kept from the top spot by the debut single of Australian Idol winner Guy Sebastian. As it happens, Guy Sebastian has had a longer and more conventionally successful career than Scribe, and even has a song in the New Zealand top 40, as of February 2014.

But the remix of “Not Many” is still a brilliant track with one of the catchiest choruses over. The original was given new life with rhymes from Savage of the Deceptikonz (and his memorable cry of “Pito Saute Aukelagiiiii!”) as well as up-and-coming rapper Con Psy aka David Dallas.

As director Chris Graham told the Grindin blog, he was inspired by P-Money to make the “opposite” of the busy “Stand Up” video, he decided to keep things really simple, paring the video down to just the performers, filmed in colours but with all the players dressed in black and white.

Things start off in a black space, with a shadowy Scribe introducing the song. But suddenly the song starts breaking up and Savage breaks into the picture, a bold presence against a white background. He’s joined by a few other New Zealand hip hop figures (Footsouljahs, the rest of the Deceptikonz daring to wear red).

Then there’s Con-Psy, initially seen from the nose down. He delivers his rhymes in a pretty low key way, but with a few hints that he would mature into the artist he is as David Dallas.

This video just feels right. It captures four of New Zealand’s best hip hop artists doing what they do best. They’re confident but not cocky, and just having a great time.

Best bit: the crazy white dog, enjoying the song just as much as anyone.

Director: Chris Graham
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… cold and wet and just plane scared.

Scribe “Stand Up”

2003-scribe-stand-upSo here it is, the New Zealand single to spend the most number of weeks at number one, spending a total of 12 weeks in the top spot – equalled only by Freddy Fender’s lament “Wasted Days and Wasted Night” in 1975 and bettered only by Boney M’s permanently amazing biblical groove “Rivers of Babylon”, which managed 14 weeks in 1978.

I remember at the time “Stand Up” came out, someone saying something like, “This is an important moment for New Zealand hip hop, but it’s going to be even better when this song seems really naff.” That is, it’ll be better when the New Zealand world of hip hop is so strong, it doesn’t need a motivational song praising it.

Are we there yet? Well, in 2003, the overall year-end singles chart had five hip hop singles from New Zealand artists, 2004 had six, but the 2013 chart doesn’t have any. It’s not until you drill down to to the New Zealand artists chart that “Runnin'” by David Dallas shows up. Hip hop is still around, but it’s not the pop superpower it was a decade ago.

The “Stand Up” adventure starts with Scribe and P-Money in a car, teasingly soundtracked by the intro of his next single “Not Many”. The pair get out and run towards a door and – bam! – they’re in a secret underground party, attended by their friends, fans and other New Zealand hip hop players.

Scribe is surrounded by the other artists he name-drops – the D4, Blindspott, Nesian Mystik, Deceptikonz – and there’s a certain awkwardness when everyone in the video feels compelled to pull a cooldude face when the camera is near them. But full credit to director Chris Gregory for getting great levels of energy in the crowd. This doesn’t look like a bunch of people roped into making a music video – they all want to be they’re and they’re having a great time partying.

In 2003, the video was great and inspiring. If Scribe could manage this with his first solo video, there could only be great things to come, right? It turned out the future was more complicated than that. Sometimes hip hop is in fashion, other times it’s the turn for minimalist electro teen pop.

The “Stand Up” ends with a preview of the next single, “Not Many”. It introduces the listener to the very sticky chorus that would soon be repeated all around New Zealand, leaving viewers wanting so much more.

Note: Hip hop label Grindin has a track-by-track look at the making of Scribe’s Crusader album, including a lot of info about the “Stand Up” video. From this we learn that much of the people in the video are audience members from a De La Soul concert that Scribe opened for earlier that evening.

Best bit: P-Money’s deft hat flip to obscure his mouth saying the F-word.

Director: Chris Graham
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a screen test.