"We don't like hip hop, Oh no, We love it" - Three the Hard Way, 'Hip Hop Holiday'
You don't hear a lot of hip hop on Counting The Beat, so to put that right I've put together a few songs from that genre that have a uniquely kiwi sound and perspective.
Christchurch Pakeha hip hopper Jody Lloyd has been making quintessentially kiwi hip hop for a number of years as part of Dark Tower and also as Trillion. While Dark Tower cleverly utilised and poked fun at kiwiana Trillion takes a more serious look at New Zealand culture. The 2008 album Silent Invisible incorporates the poetry of Denis Glover, speeches of Green MP Rod Donald and Lloyd's observations on the state of post September 11 New Zealand society. This is a million miles away from bitches and bling hip hop. Lloyd may be a white guy from Christchurch but he has a firm grasp on the idea of hip hop being a modern folk music, a voice of dissent, an opportunity for people to speak out. There is currently a free Trillion E.P. of out-takes available for download at the Trillion website and a couple of videos of tracks from the Silent Invisible album on the video page.
Colony released just one three track E.P. in 1994. The stand-out is the opening track 'Colony', a nine minute hip hop, R'n'B epic of political dissent. From Colony Gavin Downie went on to join the Hallelujah Picassos, and later The Managers. Also in Colony were brothers Dominic and Simon Taylor who went on ot become acclaimed video makers and cafe owners. The female vocals on the track were supplied by Sulata Foai who won the Tui for most promsing females artist in 1995 and later joined Te Vaka. She now works as a sales manger for Vodafone.
Upper Hutt Posse (pictured at top of post) are the Public Enemy of the NZ hip hop scene. Uncompromisingly political and coming from a radical Maori perspective some saw them as aggresive and threatening. Another group who saw hip hop as the vehicle for voices of dissent from the street, in my opinion their strongest material was that in Te Reo. Their debut single was 'E Tu' (translation: stand up) and later tracks like 'Whakakotahi' (become one) and 'Tangata Whenua' (People of the land) from the album Movement In Demand meld American and indigenous culture perfectly. I recently visited Upper Hutt and I was disappointed to find there wasn't a statue of Dean Hapeta on the main street. There are videos for 'E Tu' and 'Tangata Whenua' on the video page.
Download the Counting The Beat - We Don't Like Hip Hop podcast