Phil Bell is a hip hop artist (as DJ Sir-Vere), music TV presenter, and editor of iconic magazine Rip It Up. He co-founded and ran the Aotearoa Hip Hop Summit for three years. After hosting Max TV show The True School with DJ DLT in 1996, Sir-Vere and DLT were invited to host MTV's Wrekognise. Sir-Vere went on to C4's Holla Hour. His ongoing hip hop compilations Major Flavours have been hits on both sides of the Tasman.
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.
The Aotearoa Hip Hop Summit held in Auckland 2001, was the biggest hip hop event ever staged in New Zealand. This documentary showcases the hottest names in the four elements of NZ hip hop: break dancers, graf artists, MCs and DJs. Featuring international acts from Germany and Australia, with Ken Swift representing old skool break dancing from New York and Tha Liks from Los Angeles. Local acts include Che Fu, Te Kupu, King Kapisi, P Money and DJ Sir-Vere. Presenters are Hayden Hare and Trent Helmbright.
"E tu stand proud, kia kaha say it loud", Dean Hapeta's lyrics typify the socio-political messages in NZ's early rap music. The four elements of hip hop: breakdancing, graffiti, DJ-ing and rap are examined through interviews with key players in the hip hop scene (including King Kapisi, Che Fu, Upper Hutt Posse). A recurring theme in the Sima Urale-directed documentary is that local hip hop artists are less interested in the "girls, booze and bling" school of hip hop, and more interested in using their art to make a political statement.
In 2002 Mai FM was celebrating it’s tenth anniversary, and this piece from Marae documents just how far the radio station had come, and how they celebrated. In its 10 years Mai FM had become Auckland’s “number one radio station”, leading in many key demographics. The station celebrated the anniversary with a concert at Auckland’s St James Theatre, featuring hip hop stalwart DJ Sir-Vere, and Katchafire, who had just signed to the station’s record label and were yet to release their debut album. The piece is in te reo, but many of the interviews are in English.
Director Chris Graham delivers five minutes of cars, comedy and eye candy in this slick who's who of the 2003 Kiwi scene. Featuring DJ Sir-Vere, VJ Jane Yee, ex sports star Matthew Ridge and Paul Holmes (well actually he was a no show — but his understudy made an appearance), the clip succeeded in planting a relatively unknown hip hop artist squarely on the front page. The result was the biggest selling Kiwi single of the year (it went platinum, and spent five weeks at number one). Named Best Video at the 2005 NZ Music Awards, it cost at least $50,000 to make.
Some of the biggest names in NZ hip hop joined forces for a charity single encouraging wise decision-making in young Kiwis. 'Think Twice' was the brainchild of DJ Sir-Vere, who was concerned about increasing youth crime: "Some of the things happening seemed to be a result of poor judgement and it got me wondering how things might be different if people stopped to think twice about the consequences of their actions." Aotearoa All Stars included Awa (Nesian Mystik), Che Fu, Scribe, P-Money, Savage, PNC, Mareko, Cyphanetik, Delani, Flowz and TEK.
Directed by prolific music video maker turned movie director Jonathan King, this clip for pioneering hip hop duo Dam Native won Best Video at the 1997 NZ Music Awards. It evokes the look of a sepia-tinged colonial era photo, and the art direction —Edwardian suits and tokotoko (walking stick) — are beautifully realised. The film was then deliberately scratched to help it look aged. The result makes an effective backdrop to the song’s political lyrics. DJ Sir-Vere called the track “an original Aotearoa classic”.
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).