Napier raised hip hop producer Darryl Thomson (DLT) is thought to be the first person to 'scratch' on a New Zealand produced record. At 16 he was inspired by a Life article about rap and breakdancing. He was a founding member of influential Kiwi hip hop groups Upper Hutt Posse and Dam Native. In 1996 he collaborated with Che Fu, who had recently left the band Supergroove. The result was single 'Chains', which topped the Kiwi charts, won three NZ Music Awards including Best Single, and kick-started Che Fu's solo career. These days DLT runs workshops on creating art and making beats, and is a father.
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.
This collection rounds up almost every music video for a number one hit by a Kiwi artist; everything from ballads to hip hop to glam rock. Press on the images below to find the hits for each decade — plus try this backgrounder by Michael Higgins, whose high speed history of local hits touches on the sometimes questionable ways past charts were created.
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 ..."
Eddie (Stacey Tukariri) is a 10-year-old skater who, like many a suburban dreamer, has his sights set on riding the steepest slope in town (the Bullock Track in a pre-gentrified Grey Lynn). Although his father isn't happy about it, Eddie's hero is his teen neighbour Duane: wheelchair bound after wiping out on ‘the hill’. Directed by Tainui Stephens — his first dramatic short — and written by Brett Ihaka, the young Māori odd couple story screened at the Sundance and Berlin Film Festivals. Future Mt Zion director Tearepa Kahi plays Duane, and the score is by hip hop legend DLT.
This episode of C4's music series Homegrown Profiles features hip-hop star Che Fu, who began his music career with high school band The Lowdown Dirty Blues Band, which later evolved into 90s chart-toppers Supergroove. Che Fu talks about his messy split from Supergroove, and how the huge success of the single 'Chains' (with DLT) wasn't enjoyable because he was still upset by what had happened with the band. He also talks about the making of his three solo albums. Since this documentary was made in 2005, Che Fu and Supergroove have reconciled for reunion gigs.
Hip hop DJ/ producer P-Money (Pete Wadams) talks about a career born from very modest beginnings in this episode from a series for secondary school music students. After initial attempts at scratching on his father’s turntable were quickly rebuffed, he began making music using twin cassette decks. Success in DJ contests followed; and creating his own beats led to collaborations with acts including DLT, Scribe and Che Fu. He describes the process where his music for Scribe’s ‘I Remember’ was built up from samples from a particularly unlikely source.
In this one-off documentary Te Radar takes his roving reporter skills to Takaka, and immerses himself in the groovy world of The Gathering. The New Year's dance music festival ran from 1996 to 2002. Radar proves the master of the quote, whether chatting to 'Lords of the Ping', electronic act Pitch Black or avoiding immolation from fire poi enthusiasts ("who doesn't love a fire poi", he says grimly). Watch out for Black Seed Bret McKenzie, laidback DJ star John Digweed and the earnest 'Jesus Food' crew, whose free dosh proves a bit too popular for rival food stalls.
Part Māori, part Niuean hip hop/reggae star Che Fu made his name in Supergroove as Che Ness, then became a successful solo artist. One hip hop show billed him as Che-Fu, a take on kung-fu; the name stuck. Weeks after leaving Supergroove, ‘Chains' — a collaboration with DLT — spent five weeks at number one. Debut album 2b S.Pacific (1997) spawned three more chart-toppers and went double platinum, then unheard of in local urban music. Alongside further solo releases, Che Fu has performed with King Kapisi as Hedlok, and with Supergroove. In 2009 he was named a Member of the NZ Order of Merit.
Mid 90s hip hop act Joint Force was a brief collaboration featuring MC OJ and the Rhythm Slave (aka Mark 'Slave' Williams and Otis Frizzell) and Darryl 'DLT' Thompson with production by silent partner Angus McNaughton. The alliance arose after Williams and Frizzell began looking for a full-time DJ. They found one in Thompson who had parted ways with Upper Hutt Posse. One Inch Punch, their debut eight track EP, added Jamaican dub and dancehall influences to their hip hop beats and rhymes and featured a remix from Beasties Boys producer Mario Caldato.