A boxing ring is a simple and dramatic setting. It symbolises conflict on display. So it’s not surprising that the boxing ring has been the setting for many music videos (check out this list). But I can only think of two NZOA funded videos that have used the ring – Rubicon’s “The Captain” (with the band in netball uniforms) and Wordperfect’s “The Word Perfect Show” (he doesn’t take off his robe, but the ring girl wears a bikini). But the obvious comparison is LL Cool J’s bombastic 1990 video for “Mama Said Knock You Out” – and indeed “Elemental Forces” seems to be paying tribute to LL in some shots.
So here’s King Kapisi entering the ring for his ode to hip hop culture, shouting out to “MCs, DJs, b-boys, graff artists”. And while the video starts off with a traditional boxing match, the ring is soon given over to hip hop artists, mostly b-boys. There’s also King Kapisi going the MCing (of course) DJ CXL behind the turntables, but there’s no sign of any graff artists. But then, there aren’t all that many surfaces to paint.
The video is directed by King Kapisi himself, and stars his friends and family. Like “Mama Said Knock You Out”, the most of video is shot in black and white. It gives it all a very dramatic look, and not just a bunch of entertainers mucking around in a boxing gym after hours. The one excursion into colour takes place outside the ring. In front of a giant backdrop of Kapisi’s Overstayer flag, he gets enjoys some full-colour posing.
There’s also something to be said for King Kapisi actually having the right build for boxing. He looks like someone who could actually win a boxing match, no accidental lolz from a skinny-arse muso trying to be Rocky. (The only time this has ever worked is Sandra Bernhard kicking David Lowery’s arse in Cracker’s “Low” video.) Yeah, there are better boxing music videos, but as far as the genre goes, this is a really good effort.
A while ago I was speculating that Salmonella Dub’s “Push On Thru” journey to a ski slope could be the first half of the adventure Wham continue in their “Last Christmas” video. But here’s a much more interesting second half of a winter wonderland video scenario.
“This is a Urale clan production,” declares Kapisi at the beginning, and indeed it is, a lively, fun romp in the snow directed by the man himself, produced by his sister and edited by his cousin.
The “Conversate” video is set at the Cardrona skifield (“from Krush Groove to crushed ice”), with Kapisi taking his place on a throne made of packed snow while violinist Sam Konise stands next to him, playing along. Dammit, I want an ice throne and a violinist to punctuation my rhymes. There’s also action shots of snowboarders, clips of a ski simulator video game, and DJ CXL on the cut. So already the video manages to be more amazing in the first 20 seconds than Salmonella Dub managed in the whole video.
“Conversate” is a lyrical smackdown, a declaration from Kapisi, asserting his steez as a top MC. “Standing firm in a river of blood, killing you and your homies,” he alarmingly brags. The cliche would be to set this video in an urban setting, deep in a mean-as world of tough guys.
Instead Kapisi has hit the slopes, mainly alone with his violinist and his ice throne, otherwise surrounded by fellow snowboarders. So what does this say? Is his message so powerful that it can travel from Central Otago skifields to the urban streets? Or has he come to the skifield to assert himself there, a message of warning to any wack MCs snowboarders? Or maybe he’s been exiled to the snow, driving away from the city by an MC with greater steez, leaving Kapisi to attempt to create a new life at Cardrona. I get the feeling it wouldn’t take much to be the best MC at a ski resort. But hey – only King Kapisi has a throne of ice. Super cool.
The “Saboteur” vid is a Tarantino-inspired outing, set in central Wellington. The action starts at the Marksman Motor Inn (just across the road from the Basin Reserve), with DJ Raw collecting King Kapisi for a gig. They cruise around Wellington in a vintage car where Kapisi takes a call on a chunky old Ericsson cellphone (but not old enough to be vintage). On the other end is Dave Fane, playing the “Samoan bar manager”, who rants at the “Samoan emcee” and “Samoan turntablist” (everyone in this video gets labelled). The duo arrive at Bar Bodega in its old location, before it was shuffled along Willis Street to make way for the bypass.
Kapisi and Raw take to the stage and the bar soon fills up with (in order of arrival): a trance DJ and groupie, the West West Side Crew, the East Nor’ East Side Crew, the XXXL Crew, fake ass DJs, a yakuza hit man, and undercover cops. So, that’s a pretty good audience for a local act.
Unfortunately there’s some tension between the West West Side and East Nor’ East crews. But if they just stick to their respective sides of the club, everything should be ok. Unless the Nor’ Easters are mad that the West Westers can get closer to the stage. But as Kapisi advises, “With that gangsta mentality, you sabotage yourself”. The music seems to bring everyone together.
In the end the biggest trouble is caused by the Samoan bar manager. “Play some old skool,” he impores, shoving an Abba LP at Raw. His request refused, he storms off in a huff, sabotaging things by pulling the plug on the gig.
From the old Ericsson to Bar Boedga, the “Saboteur” video feels like a postcard from the early ’00s, but it doesn’t feel stuck in that time. You never know when sabotage might happen.
Best bit: the trendy ’00s club threads of the undercover cops.