South Auckland hip hop trio Smashproof — Tyree, Young Sid and Deach — arrrived on the New Zealand music scene in 2005 with their club hit 'Ride 'Til I Die'. Debut album The Weekend dropped in 2009. That year 'Brother', a portrait of South Auckland street life, cemented the group's reputation both in New Zealand and Australia. It also set a new local record after spending eleven weeks atop the Kiwi charts. Although each of the trio has released solo albums, Smashproof continue to perform.
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.
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.
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 'making of' film goes behind the scenes of the music video for Smashproof's hit song Brother. Chris Graham's promo won Best Music Video at the 2009 Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards. The 10 minute film includes interviews with Smashproof, talking about the consciousness-raising song (a "metaphor for South Auckland"). Meanwhile director Chris Graham discusses the concept of cruising the streets in an invisible car — the idea "came from Sid's opening lyric: 'I've got my hand on the windowsill looking out at the world'..." — and how it was executed.
Open Door is a community-based TV series where groups or individuals make a documentary about an issue that concerns them. This episode is about CanTeen, the organisation that supports young people living with cancer (both those battling the disease and their siblings). The documentary shows CanTeen members going to a Winter camp at Mt Ruapehu, on a fishing trip, and having celebrity visits from hip hop stars Smashproof, TV fisherman Geoff Thomas, and All Black Ali Williams and coach Graham Henry.
Samoan rapper Dei Hamo — real name Sani Sagala — topped the Kiwi charts in 2004 with his bass-heavy debut single ‘We Gon Ride'. It spent five weeks at number one, and stayed in the Top 10 for two months. It also made the Top 40 in Australia. Dei Hamo had been part of the early wave of South Auckland hip hop in the late 1980s, before returning to music in 2002. His debut album First Edition (2005) spawned a second hit with ‘To Tha Floor', which debuted at number five. Although further singles have followed, these days Sagala concentrates on directing music videos. He has made over 50 to date, for everyone from Pieter T to Smashproof — as well as short film The Crossroads: Le Māgafā, about musician Tha Freestyle.
In this video billowing sails and an impressive array of mid-80s celebrities (musicians, broadcasters, sportspeople) raise their voices in patriotic fervour, to rally support for the first Kiwi challenge for the America’s Cup: “in a boat just called New Zealand”. The bid failed, but ‘Sailing Away’ set a record for the most consecutive weeks at number one by a NZ artist (nine), until the arrival of Smashproof’s ‘Brother’ in 2009. The tune — borrowed from ‘Pokarekare Ana’ — remains both as a reminder of simpler times in the America’s Cup, and an era of questionable haircuts.
Gin Wigmore was a teenager when her song 'Hallelujah' beat off 11,000 budding stars, to win the 2005 International Songwriting Contest, making her the youngest Grand Prize winner in the competition's history. The achievement caught the eye of Universal Motown Records in the US, who signed the raspy-voiced Wigmore in 2008 and released debut EP Extended Play. Back on Kiwi soil the following year, the singer-songwriter released jaunty hit 'Under My Skin', and teamed up with Smashproof for the record-breaking 'Brother'. Wigmore's 2015 album Blood to Bone was her third to top the NZ Music Charts.
Drew Neemia began his screen career young. In 1996 he was the voice of child character Oscar on fantasy series Oscar and Friends, before joining McDonald’s Young Entertainers, where he spent three seasons singing and dancing. In the same period he played recurring characters in a handful of shows, including as one of William Tell's sidekicks in The Legend of William Tell. In 2006 he began co-hosting afterschool show Sticky TV, then in 2009 shifted to C4 to present music video show Select Live. Neemia later embarked on his own music career, including Top 10 single 'Paint Fade', alongside hip hop trio Smashproof.