April 2008: Rhombus, Scribe, Shihad, Simple Day, Solstate, Stu Strawbridge

Blackboard scribbles, a modern Pacific city, shockingly inoffensive, helping out with the lambs, the location that swallowed the band, and the most boring farm ever.
Continue reading April 2008: Rhombus, Scribe, Shihad, Simple Day, Solstate, Stu Strawbridge

December 2007: Motocade, Nesian Mystik, PNC, Scribe, Shihad, SideKickNick, SJD

Pro-wrestlers at the beach, the comfort of 101, circular motion, the grooviest show in town, nocturnal projections, an anatomy lesson.
Continue reading December 2007: Motocade, Nesian Mystik, PNC, Scribe, Shihad, SideKickNick, SJD

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

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.

P-Money feat. Scribe “Remember?”

2002-p-money-rememberOh, remember those days? When life was a bit easier? P-Money and Scribe do. The video has a bit of set-up to do before the song can start (a whole minute of set-up). First we see Scribe doing some freestyle rhyming with his circle of mates, as director Chris Graham’s camera circles the group. I get the feeling this was a spontaneous thing that happened on the day of the shoot.

Then the proper set-up starts. P-Money and Scribe are sitting at a park bench watching some kids playing, remember the halcyon days of their youth. Their dialogue seems improvised and as a result it doesn’t sound too clunky, and conveniently ends with Scribe saying “I remember…” as the song itself starts.

Scribe has some issues with a friend of his, who has evidently betrayed him. They’re engaged in a tense stand-off on Queen Street, but we also see a flashback of the pair play-fighting as kids. Scribe also spies a pretty lady in a record store, so that’s setting up a triangle of drama.

Scribe falls in love with her, leading to a rather nice shot of the couple cuddling on the cool old benches on the K Road overbridge, with the colourfully painted concrete and the city lights in the background.

It turns out that the girlfriend had an unpleasant childhood in the form of a dodgy uncle who molested her. This is a pretty heavy topic to have in a music video, but I think it’s handled well, with more implied than is actually shown.

But I’m most interested in how much of the video is filmed in parks. It’s like a park is a place where kids can go to escape their family home, but also a place where the adults can get away from all the pressures of their complicated lives. And while the city scenes are always full of drama, it seems that only good things happen in the lush green parks.

Best bit: Scribe’s pash – a most unexpected occurrence in a music video.

Director: Chris Graham
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a casting call.

P-Money feat. Scribe and 4 Corners “Synchronize Thoughts”

2001-p-money-synchronize-thoughtsSo, 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.

Director: Wade Shotter
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… ice ice baby.

P-Money “Scribe 2001”

2001-p-money-scribe-2001“Scribe 2001” was a P-Money track (and the opening track on his debut album) but the song was undeniably about the young rapper Scribe. The early 2000s were good for Scribe, the golden years before things started to get complicated. With P-Money’s sophisticated beats, “Scribe 2001” is an introduction to this fresh MC who had a way with words.

The video is incredibly low budget and was made by P-Money himself. There’s even a brief shot of him reflected in a mirror as he films Scribe, holding the tiniest of video cameras. If P-Money is ever in the shot, the camera is stationery.

The video begins with the duo and pals in a car on a rainy afternoon. They have the freshly released CD single of the track and they blast it in the car stereo, relishing this moment of awesomeness. The video then has a quick montage of New Zealand music personalities of the era – there’s Otis and Slave, Jane Yee, DJ Sir-Vere and Che Fu. And then here’s Scribe telling us his story’s just begun, implying he’s the logical next step in that line-up.

The low-budget video camera gives everything a dull grey, washed out look. Even Scribe and P-Money look less like a respected DJ and MC and more like a couple of friends mucking around with a video camera. But back then, that’s kind of what they were – a couple of dudes who knew they had a cool song that needed a video.

The video is totally lacking in glamour. They’re hanging around in a hotel room, by some lifts, in a stairwell, in a record shop. It’s a bland utilitarian landscape, brought to life by the killer track.

At one point Scribe is sitting at a table in a nondescript hotel room. In front of him is some cash. Not stacks of Benjamins, rather a more modest Hillary and a Queenie. P-Money flicks a 20 at the camera. The scene comes across as both a parody of hip hop videos and the sincere swagger of two guys who know one day they’ll be able to do that in a fancy hotel suite and with big stacks of Rutherfords.

But whatever flaws the video might have, none of it really matters. The song is so strong that the video doesn’t need to be super slick. Hey, it’s Scribe and he has some rhymes for you.

Best bit: the people who share the lift with Scribe: frozen; horrified.

Director: Peter Waddams
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… take out the trash.