In the light of the golden hour, not-quite-New Zealand, keeping it grimy, extreme sport, law-abiding bandits, a working New Zealand rock band, and higher education.
A job through cardboard, colour vs bleak, hanging a picture, furry friends, bragging party, around the campfire, doing it for the kids.
Out in an empty field, always down at the wharves, a purple suit, obvious karaoke, a visit to the war memorial, Dane in spaaaace, and cartoon drama.
The good life, all the boys together, on a boat, LA and LV, a superhero story, and a girls’ night out.
A rough ride, a band deconstructed, girls in grey and black, and a high school musical.
Of course there’s a strip club. Also urban decay, suburban angst, Manhattan and the Hokianga.
Continue reading February 2006: Blindspott, Chong Nee, Cobra Khan, Don McGlashan, Frontline
Dei Hamo teams up with Chong Nee for a declaration of his goals in life. That’s good. It helps to have goals.
Much of the video takes place in front of a CGI background. It’s pretty basic – just yellow pillars and plain red backdrops. It was likely made using the coolest technology at the time, but a decade later it ends up looking really cheap. The better scenes involve real settings, or real props in front of a CGI background .
Dei Hamo shares his wish to buy fancy cars for himself and his dad, and he goes into quite specific technical detail about the car, which takes the video into Top Gear territory. But as Dei Hamo explained to the Herald in 2005, “Kids are always asking me, ‘Where’s your big red truck?’ If I really had that much money I’d be very modest.”
There’s also a scene dedicated to technology. Dei Hamo is shown in playing a Nintendo DS, his “email address” is shown on screen (firstname.lastname@example.org, lolz). “I’ll get my lawyer to fax you back”, Dei Hamo threatens, knowing the brutal force of ’80s communication technology. Even more fierce – Dei Hamo takes a phone call on his Pocket PC phone with a flip-out keyboard and running Windows Mobile. Embarrassed 4 u, dude.
Much of the song is about how Dei Hamo is so cool because his rhymes are so fresh – and that is true. But musically the song is a bit flat (the chorus is forgettable) and the video involves so much that it ends up feeling quite unfocused.
Best bit: the parody of Eminem in 8 Mile, complete with the sign reading “8km to South Auckland” (Mt Wellington?)
Next… the brother of that guy in that band.
This 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
Well, there’s a lot going on in this video. The video starts with a prologue – Dei Hamo and pals sitting in a car parked in the pedestrian area outside the Britomart Transport Centre. After declaring that there’s no “new sound”, the four discover that – hey – you can make cool noises with things inside a car. This suggests that none of them have ever been a bored kid waiting inside a car.
After a minute of that, the song proper kicks off. Most of the action takes place in and around Commerce Street in Downtown Auckland, right in front of the bookshop selling cute Asian stationery. There are cars galore, along with boys and girls who are just as much into cars as Dei Hamo is. He’s pestered by the media (with one reporter played by Jane Yee) but just as things seem about to get boring, they instead get weird.
There’s Dei Hamo and Chong Nee dressed as military generals standing in front of a big wall of shiny mag wheels, Dei Hamo in white-face as Paul Holmes having a dig as the notorious “cheekie darkie” comment, Dei Hamo relaxing with an underwear-clad model in an RV. And then there’s Matthew Ridge excitedly boogieing down with the boys.
At the time the video came out, it all seemed very exciting. As Duncan Greive says over at Audio Culture, this is what big flashy hip hop videos were like at the time. It takes a lot of effort to make a video like this (the video reportedly cost over $50,000), but Chris Graham and Dei Hamo pulled it off. And yet… as Greive also observes, “something about the cumulative impact feels a little overblown – like, this is New Zealand. We can’t possibly afford to live that life.”
It looks like a world created for a music video, rather than an actual depiction of a blinged-out good life. The song was number one for five weeks, in that remarkable time in 2003-2005 when eight New Zealand hip hop songs made it to number one before the trend flipped over to reality TV show winners. And now, 10 years later, the world of “We Gon’ Ride” seems like ancient history, that time when entertainers used to dress up and dance around cars.
Best bit: Dei Hamo holds up a fat wad of Rutherfords.
Director: Chris Graham
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision
And with this blinged-out extravaganza, I’ll end the year. 5000 Ways will now take its annual break, back on Monday 20 January right in the midst of that particularly fruitful time for New Zealand music in the pop charts. As always, thanks to you, dear reader, and to everyone who’s commented and shared stories, and to all the people who’ve tracked down old videos and got them online. Merry Christmas, happy New Year and see you in 2003!
The first few seconds of this song seem quite sedate. There’s Marry J doing his soul crooning and it’s all very sweet when suddenly – bam! – here’s Dei Hamo with some rap to make things a lot more interesting.
Dei Hamo is filmed in black and white, with the lyrics of his rhymes jumping around behind him, like a YouTube lyric video. This tantalising and explosive intro is over quickly, and we return to Matty J, walking along a city street.
The camera always films him walking left to right, and we also see split screen shots of different angles of him. I know what’s trying to be achieved here (the spilt screen style was very cool in the mid-’90s) but it seems a bit awkward here. It has been done with some really horrible looking bevelling effects, like the sort of stuff that showed up in webpage design in the mid-’90s. Was there a point where this style was cool? Maybe.
Dei Hamo bursts in again, introduced by Matty J as “the Madd Coconut”. And then Matty J continues on his journey, walking through cityscapes in bold colours, particularly purples and blues. Finally Matty J’s journey ends with him walking right up to his sweetie, but the video abruptly ends before there can be any grand reunion. (This might just be the version that’s online.)
It feels like there are some really good ideas behind this video, but not everything manages to work.
Best bit: Matty J’s simultaneous look of loved-up and cool.
Director: Craig Jackson
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision
Next… lying in the sand.