“Set the Record Straight” was the title track of Fast Crew’s debut album. It’s a great big celebration of who they are, and the video captures live performances from the Crew’s peak time – including their 2006 appearance at the Big Day Out.
When the band aren’t making the room jump in their live gigs, they’re shown posing around Cross Street – a place with conveniently rundown buildings that can stand in for cinematic urban decay when needed.
Singer Rebecca Le Harle barely features in this video. She doesn’t perform on the track and is only ever seen in wide shots of the group performing live. She eventually left the group and didn’t perform on their next single, so the occasional flick of her ponytail is the last we’ll see of her.
The video was uploaded to the Fast Crew’s YouTube account in 2006, which means we’re getting right into the era when videos were uploaded at the time of their original release. This also means that for the early years, the video quality isn’t great. This one is only 360p (I’m not totally sure what that means, but, y’know, it’s a small number), so the video quality is very pixelly.
It’s not a great song or video, but at the very least it captures the band at their peak. Playing the Big Day Out is a major achievement for any band, and seeing the Crew rocking the BDO’s Boiler Room is worth capturing.
Best bit: the trio proudly displaying their Air Force 1’s.
Ok, that’s it for another year. This year I covered videos from June 2003 to June 2005, and reached the overall halfway point (Wahey! Only another three and a half years to go, OMG, what am I doing with my life, etc). I’m going to spend the summer break watching Katy Perry and/or Eurovision videos, and I’ll be back sometimes in January 2015. Or February if I’m lazy. Thanks for reading, y’all!
“Suburbia Streets” is the Fast Crew being honest about their upbringing. They didn’t grow up on troubled inner-city neighbourhoods. No, they came from safe middle-class suburbs, where it’s “safe for child’s play, and there’s minimal homeless”.
The video is also an ode to this environment. We see the Crew rapping and singing around the suburbs, wandering the empty streets, inside an empty house and travelling on an empty bus. This is a fairly accurate portrayal of suburbs – during the day they do indeed empty out.
And that’s one of the big weaknesses with the video. For a song that is celebrating the depth and variety of the band’s suburban roots, the video isn’t doing such a great job of showing all that variety. In direct opposition to the lyrics promising that “suburbia is packed with all them cats you’d like to know” and talk of “street hustlers to band geeks, architects to police”, the only life seen in the empty suburbs is from Fast Crew, who are presumedly just there to shoot the video.
There are plenty of videos showing vibrant block parties in poorer neighbourhoods, but maybe this sort of carry-on just doesn’t happen in a nice middle-class area. Perhaps they’d find more suburban life down at the local Lone Star restaurant on a Thursday night.
Best bit: the very serious vocoder tube-singing bit – “suburbiaaaaaa”.
Fast Crew return to Britomart, and this time they’re in the old Masonic House, cast as a damaged, graffiti-strewn wreck. It looks great on camera. The corridors are packed full of the Crew and their friends and building seems to heave with the energy of the song.
By the way, I need to note these epic lyrics, a back and forth between Jerome and Rebecca. There are cooldude rappers who try to make threats in their lyrics, but B-Recka just lays it down.
Jerome: And if you critics don’t go back and start to pack your luggage, I’ll be coming for your girl. Rebecca: And I’ll be coming for your husband. Jerome: And that’s something kind of rugged. Rebecca: Yo, I’m on my monthly. Jerome: Jerome and B-Recka. Both: This shit is getting ugly.
Anyway, back to the video. The whole building seems to be on the verge of falling apart, with big holes in the walls and the ceiling. It’s quite a nice record of just how grotty Britomart got before the developers came in and started fixing and fancying the place into much posher place it is today. In fact, the video is actually hosted on the YouTube account of the Britomart company – a proud reminder of how far they’ve come?
I have a friend who explored this building in the mid-’00s. Masonic House wasn’t just a name – he came across a room used by the Freemasons for their ceremonies, all pyramids and chequerboards. Now, that would have looked amazing in a music video. But the Fast Crew probably prefer a smashed-up old corridor. Even if it was set dressed for the video, that little piece of mid-’00s Britomart at its lowest is a fine thing to capture.
Oh hey, it’s Fast Crew! We’re introduced to their fast and furious world as the group and their posse are hanging out in the brand new Britomart Transport Centre. That area has previous been seen in Dei Hamo’s “We Gon’ Ride” video, and even earlier Semi Lemon Kola were running around the old bus depot that was demolished to make way for the new. But for the first time, the Fast Crew ventured inside, all the way down to the train platforms.
Dane Rumble kicks of the song with a performance style that reveals he has a very very wide mouth and a piece of chewing gum in it. At this stage he was using the name Kid Deft, which I don’t fully understand because Dane Rumble – his real name – is the most perfect pop star name ever. He’s easily the most charismatic of the group’s three MCs, with the other two almost blending in with the posse.
After Britomart, the group do a bit of breakdancing down a cool looking brick alley, then move on to that Housing New Zealand housing on Great North Road on Grey Lynn – before the posh apartment block was built next door. The one thing that unites the different locations in the video is some black and white check vinyl, laid down for the Crew and friends to bust a move. Things are going well, until a limo full of the Crews rivals turn up, blasting their next single, “The Incredible”. “To be continued”, a graphic threatens.
This is the second Fast Crew video (the first was for “Mr Radio”), but in a way this feels more like their debut. This song was the first of the group’s run of three top 10 hits, and it established them as a goofy yet street, nerdy but hot hip hop/pop crew that had some business to do.
Best bit: the manic face-in-camera style for the rapped bits.
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.