Rip it Up editor and hip hop supremo, Philip Bell (DJ Sir-Vere) drops his Top 10 selection of Aotearoa hip hop music videos. The clips mark the evolution of an indigenous style, from the politically conscious (Dam Native, King Kapisi) to the internationalists (Scribe, Savage). It includes iconic, award-winning efforts from directors Chris Graham, Jonathan King, and more.
Directed by prolific music video maker and now feature film director Jonathan King, this clip won Best Video at the 1997 NZ Music Awards. The sepia-tinged print, colonial photo studio-styled art direction and details (tokotoko and Edwardian suits) are beautifully realised and make for an effective back-drop to the song’s political lyrics. DJ Sir-Vere: “an original Aotearoa classic”
Che Fu goes Kung Fu and travels to a music video version of Chinatown, in this shadowy clip directed by Alicia Williams. The oriental styles suit the mellow groove of the song, right down to the Mao collars. The award-winning singer makes the moves, while harbouring an infatuation for a beautiful DJ whose face is "dancing in my head".
Prolific music video director Sophie Findlay offers a humourous take on all those army film and TV shows (Full Metal Jacket, Tigerland et al) with the bad-arse drill sergeant and badgered recruits. Commanding Officer Mareko barks orders to the beat to his troops, The Deceptikonz.
Arriving in the first decade of Kiwi hip hop, this track edged into the top 20 of the Kiwi singles chart. The performance-based video was shot on the streets of South Auckland, in a mix of both black and white and colour. Lost Souls was made up of two Samoans, a Niuean, a Tongan and a Cook Islander. Two years after recording this tale of post-migration PI life in Aotearoa, Lost Tribe rapper Brotha D (Danny Leaosavai'i) co-founded legendary hip hop label Dawn Raid, with Andy Murnane.
Rebecca Gin created a simple but effective black and white video for this charity single, aimed at encouraging young people to ‘Think Twice’ before committing a crime. The line-up of singers and rappers is indeed all-star, and their mass performance footage is intercut with relevant street scenes illustrating the theme. The cast of New Zealand hip-hop royalty features Che Fu, Scribe, P-Money, Savage and DJ Sir-Vere (who initiated the project).
Chart-topper 'Brother' is about Smashproof's South Auckland neighbourhood, and how these hip hop stars want it to change — crime and violence are not the only options. It's an urgent message, delivered via a simple but powerful drive-by concept by music video director Chris Graham. The clip made it into mainstream news media for a scene bluntly inspired by a high profile incident, where a businessman stabbed a young tagger. Singer-songwriter Gin Wigmore features during the chorus. 'Brother' broke local chart records, after spending eleven weeks at number one.
Amidst a tale of despair in the city, a staunch 'no nukes' message is delivered with aplomb by Che Fu in this performance-based promo for his collaboration with hip hop legend DLT. "Come test me like a bomb straight from Murda-roa / How comes I got cyclops fish in my water / A Nation of Pacific lambs to the slaughter / Three eyes for my son and an extra foot for my daughter". Acclaimed music video director Kerry Brown uses bold urban Pacific imagery to accompany this chart-topping track with its deceptively catchy chorus: "Living in the city ain't so bad ..."
Director Chris Graham toys with black and white in this performance-based clip, which accompanies possibly New Zealand's best-known remix. Graham shoots Scribe and company in colour, but apart from skin tones makes every ‘colour’ used either black or white: including the hoodies, caps, milk bottles ... and the dog. Film speed is tweaked to the beat, and the result is monochrome magic. Scribe is joined by a crusading crew of Kiwi hip hop luminaries (Savage, P-Money, David Dallas/Con Psy). 'Not Many' originally topped the charts as half of a double A-side, alongside 'Stand Up'.
"Samoa mo Samoa!" — King Kapisi blends his Samoan roots with hip hop culture in this video shot on Samoa's ring roads. The hip hop music video standby of the drive-by gets revised Pasifika-style, and the fire poi, papase'ea sliding rocks, lavalava, coconuts, and colourful Apia buses make this clip staunchly fa'a Samoa.
Shot on location, this gleeful clip could double as a travel promo for beautiful Samoa. In the absence of special effects, the video radiates warmth and sincerity, aided by remarkably slick editing and a cheeky sense of humour. Director Chris Graham also helmed clips for hip hop classics 'Brother' and 'Not Many'.