Shot in sepia tones with barely a level camera angle on offer, the video for 3 The Hard Way’s single has classic hip hop video written all over it. A cruise around Auckland in the back of a convertible culminates in a guest verse from Bobbylon of Hallelujah Picassos. Back at home, a rugby-loving audience assembles for the song’s second half. The unforgettable hook is inspired by 10cc hit 'Dreadlock Holiday', which proved lucrative for the English band when there were issues around clearing the rights. This was one of the earliest NZ On Air-funded videos for a song that reached number one.
“Unlike Siamese twins who are joined at the hip, we’re joined at the hip-hop…” This 1992 single was the opening track from MC OJ and Rhythm Slave’s What Can We Say? album, released on Murray Cammick’s Southside Records. The duo rap that “we won’t stop until we get enough”, and the hyperactive black and white video captures the youthful energy of the then teenage pair. There’s Converse trainers, turntables, breakdancing, a sinuous silhouette, a ballerina, a hip hop wedding, a massive pillow fight — and some giant trousers that MC and OJ jointly inhabit.
Scribe's first single ‘Stand Up’ conquered the charts, paired as a double A-side with soon to be signature tune ‘Not Many’. But where ‘Not Many’ is a statement of personal intent, ‘Stand Up’ flies the flag for Kiwi hip hop: the video features many of the fellow musicians namechecked in the song. Shot in a basement below Auckland's Real Groovy Records in black and white (except for the ‘Not Many’ sections), Chris Graham's NZ Music Award-winning video offers an energetic, confrontational performance from Scribe, who took another five NZ Music Awards in the same year.
It had to be a big ask getting all seven members of Supergroove in one shot and looking good for this video, but the result trips along with pace, great upside down special effects, and some bonus goldfish. Shot in one epic, 18 hour session, Can't Get Enough was one of the earliest Supergroove videos directed by bassist Joe Lonie, who went on to helm 50+ clips for everyone from King Kapisi to Goodshirt. In 1995 'Can't Get Enough' was the first of a trio of Supergroove videos to take away the supreme award for Best New Zealand Music Video of the year.
The award-winning promo for King Kapisi's debut single is a family affair: bookended by shots of his two-year-old son, directed by his sister Sima and produced by another sister, Makerita. The song is a plea to his Samoan people to remember their pre-colonial past: “feed your kids not the church”. Filmed underwater at Wellington’s Kilbirnie Aquatic Centre, the video has islander Kapisi swimming through a sea of lava-lava. Made before Kapisi signed a record contract, the video won gongs at 1997’s BFM, Mai Time, and Flying Fish awards and a 2004 NZ On Air 1000 Music Video Celebration nod.
Upper Hutt Posse were the first group to release a hip hop record in New Zealand, with their politically charged breakthrough 1988 single 'E Tu'. On this single from 1992, they make something of a return to their reggae roots. By now the group had expanded from the original four-piece, and included Teremoana Rapley — also part of Moana and the Moahunters — on additional vocals. The song would later appear on the soundtrack of Once Were Warriors, with Posse members Dean and Matt Hapeta (aka D-Word and MC Wiya) making cameo appearances in the film.
This militant debut from rappers Upper Hutt Posse marked New Zealand’s first hip hop record. Dean Hapeta announces himself with a history lesson proudly namechecking the great Māori warrior chiefs of the 19th Century — Hōne Heke, Te Rauparaha, Te Kooti — and their Māori Battalion successors. ‘E Tu’ is also a personal manifesto, with promises to preach the truth but not to brag or wear gold chains. Hapeta's down the barrel delivery carries a degree of confrontation rarely seen from New Zealand musicians up to that point.
Rappers Upper Hutt Posse were the first New Zealand hip hop act to release a record (and one of the most radical). This reflection on troubles at home and abroad brings out a more reflective side. Against news footage of the Springbok Tour, Bastion Point and a host of international trouble spots, the sweet soul vocals of Teremoana Rapley and Acid Dread (aka Steve Rameka) float in and out of the raggamuffin toasting of MC Wiya (Matt Hapeta) and Dean Hapeta’s less than cheery weather forecast. This music video was one of the first to be funded by NZ on Air.
Chart-topper 'Brother' is about Smashproof's South Auckland neighbourhood, and how the hip hop trio want it to change — crime and violence are not the only options. It's an urgent message, delivered via a powerful, Tui award-winning drive-by video from 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.
This soulful number was the first single from Che Fu’s second album The Navigator. It marked the debut of his new band, The Krates. The ambitious video translates the song’s message of undying friendship to a World War II setting (filmed at the NZ Warbirds Association hangar at Ardmore Airport). Che-Fu’s Supergroove bandmate turned Krates drummer Paul Russell plays the cheeky English chap, while P-Money has found some turntables that possibly aren’t authentic wartime issue. Fade Away was judged Best Music Video and Single of the Year at the 2002 NZ Music Awards.