Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Mighty Sparrow

Mighty Sparrow - Sparrowmania!
Wit, Wisdom and Soul From the King of Calypso 1963-1974

"Strut present a brand new retrospective of one of the Caribbean’s most towering musical figures, Mighty Sparrow, covering 1962 to 1974. During a career of over 40 years, Sparrow has been an unmatchable figure in the world of calypso and a constant backdrop to Caribbean life, recording over 300 albums and winning eleven Calypso Monarch and eight Road March titles at the annual Trinidad Carnival during one of the most competitive times in its history."

Liner notes by David Katz, well worth a read! Out now thru Strut

Monday, February 06, 2012


Straight back to 88... Betty and Ryan Monga and co... Think it's shot at the Galaxy (Powerstation) when the stage was at the other end of the room.

Yeaaahhh boiiiiiiii!

Half time ads during US sporting mega-event the Superbowl are always worth checking, The time slot costs $3.5 million for 30 secs, and then they throw in the big name stars. Like Clint EastwoodJerry Seinfeld, or Elton John and Flava Flav. Yeaaahhh boooiii! Flav is probably pretty happy right now - his hometown team the NY Giants won.

NYTimes: Judging the Super Bowl Commercials, From Charming to Smarmy (with links to all the ads)

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Way of the Dragon Spirit

Long Shen Dao ("Way of the Dragon Spirit") are a reggae band from Beijing, China. Their sound also takes in hiphop, ska and dub.

They are in New Zealand to play at the annual Lantern Festival in Auckland's Albert Park. They have played every night of the Festival, and they are on tonight at 9.40pm, followed by closing night fireworks.

I saw them last night, very cool use of traditional chinese instrumentation mixed in with reggae. They even do a Bob Marley cover! The singer talked to the crowd in Chinese, then told us in English "This our first time in New Zealand. We very happy!". He asked us to stand up and dance please. And everyone did. It was very cool.

They are playing on Waitiangi Day alongside Katchafire, David Dallas, Ardijah, Maisey Rika, Bella Kalolo, Sons of Zion and Foundation at Family Day. Out at Barry Curtis Park, Chapel Rd, Flat Bush, South Auckland (free). And they're playing in Wellington with support from DJ Art Official on Tuesday 7 Feb at San Francisco Bathhouse.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Metallica brass

New Orleans outfit Soul Rebels perfom the Metallica's "Enter Sandman" live during one of four Metallica 30th birthday concerts. Recorded live at The Fillmore in San Francisco, California on December 5th, 2011.

Soul Rebels debut album Unlock your mind dropped Jan 31. Might need to check this one...

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, Feb 4

Kruder and dorfmeister - Shakatadoodub
Renegade soundwave - Black eye boy
Harry Beckett - Rise and shine
One blood - Be thankful for what you've got
U Brown - Gal u so bad
Sound dimension - Love Jah
Horace Andy - Jah provides
Vin Gordon - Steady beat
Lord Echo - Things I like to do
The BEat - Whine n grind/Stand down Margaret
Dub Asylum - Skatta
Chuck Brown - We need some money
Wild magnolias - Battlefield - Joe Claussell remix
Bonnie Pointer - Free me from my freedom - Special disco version
Anthony Joseph - Bullet in the rocks
Charles Bradley - Why is it so hard?
The Paragons - Tide is high
Bob Marley and the Wailers - Put it on
Pablove Black - Poco tempo
Alton Ellis - It's a shame
Lloyd Williams - Reggae feet
S Matthewman - Tempest dub
Red eyes - Can you hear it?
Fila Brazilia - A Zed and two Ls
Lee Scratch Perry - God smiled - Moody boyz remix

Friday, February 03, 2012

Do-Over Waiheke

Do-Over residents Haycock and Strong flew in from LA with some mystery guests - J-Rocc and DJ Day.

Charles Bradley doco debuts

"I've been doing James Brown since I was 14, now I'm gonna do Charles Bradley."

"Starting off on his 62nd birthday, Charles Bradley: Soul of America follows the extraordinary journey of singer Charles Bradley during the electrifying and transformative months leading up to the release of his debut album "No Time for Dreaming." The 74-minute documentary feature will premiere at the SXSW 2012 Film Festival in Austin, Texas. "

Charles Bradley released his debut album last year, at the age of 62.  His story is incredibly moving. Can't wait to see this.

The real thing?

Lana Del Rey, Exene Cervenka of X 

Last weekend, legendary punk bands X, Dead Kennedys, and The Avengers, played at an art museum in LA (the MOCA).  This article in the LA Weekly notes that punk by definition was anti-nostalgia, so the idea of dragging out some punk rock relics to play in a museum may be seem counter to what punk was about. Mind you, don't relics belong in a museum? Kidding...

"... Such questions of authenticity and identity - eternal themes in both art and punk rock - were enough to drive one crazy, but they were rendered moot within the first few explosive chords of the Avengers' set. .." - LA Weekly.

Authenticity is a word that seems to have come up a lot recently with the explosive arrival of Lana Del Rey on the music scene. I'm not sure how conjuring up a pop persona makes her any less authentic than the gazillion popsters who have gone before her. Her Dad is backrolling her career  - so what? So did Beyonce's Dad, so did Taylor Swift's Dad.

It's been fascinating following the excitement and then the backlash to Lana Del Rey. Some folk like Simon Sweetman, feel deeply offended by a manufactured pop star.

Sure, she's not the first, but she might well be the last. Here's a response to Sweetman's piece, "Lana Del Rey vs. Hipster Snobbery" from the delightfully named Unapologetically Pop! blog. 

Is Lana Del Rey authentic? Does it even matter? As Russell Brown noted in his review of her album, "For the indie chin-strokers, it's as if they saw that amazing girl they met last Saturday at the hipster bar promenading on the arm of some douchebag hunk. Grief gave way to anger as they realised she wasn't the girl they thought she was.

"Well, no. Lana Del Rey's not her real name! It was suggested by her management! She has a deal with a major label! Her father is actually a millionaire! The sooner you say it out loud, the sooner you can get over it."

Brown praises the album, saying "there's some pop gold on this record." His main issue with it? "Like much modern pop music, it's compressed to buggery. That's audio compression - making everything loud - rather than file compression..."

The Loudness wars - that's worth arguing about.

And how is Ms Del Ray handling all this? Well, her album just hit number one in 14 countries. I'm guessing she's not too fussed right now.

Authenticity ('keeping it real') is something that comes up very frequently in hiphop circles, ever since the genre emerged on wax in the late 1970s. There's even university theses on it. It has been an issue in hiphop ever since it hit the mainstream, with the likes of Fresh Prince, Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer. How do you 'keep it street' if you're not from the street?

Take Run DMC, a crew originally from the middle class suburb of Queens NYC. By dressing in their street clothes, rather than flashy show-off uniforms like most rap groups of the time (see Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five), Run DMC made a definite impression. By being true to themselves, they were keeping it real.

Rapper 50 Cent got shot nine times and then got dropped by his record label, before eventually finding success. On the question of authenticity, he says  “When I offer aggression, I offer it from an author, a real place ... It’s just a lot of the other artists, I don’t believe them. I believe hip-hop is in a struggle of being artistic or [having] authenticity—which one matters?

"Because a lot of them that write music that has a street-life theme to it haven’t actually been exposed to very much of that. It’s starting to feel like it doesn’t matter. I’m watching it, and I’m like, Okay, it sounded great, but ya lyin’.” [source: XXL]

RELATED Jessica Hooper at Spin: Deconstructing Lana Del Rey
and Sasha Frere-Jones at the New Yorker: Screen Shot: Lana Del Rey's fixed image
Hat tip to Robyn Gallagher for the links.
Under the big black sun, California art 1974-1981, exhibition at the MOCA, LA. 

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Governed by you

Wellington band Naked Spots Dance, from a 1982 release distributed by Flying Nun. NSD on this record were Kate Walker, Katherine McRae, Matthew Fisher, Stephen Norris. Produced by Chris Fleming, Ian Morris, Naked Spots Dance.

Amplifier have a Jayrem Records compilation of NZ women's music that features a Naked Spots Dance track, with Fran Walsh when she was in the band (and before she became an Oscar-winning screenwriter and film producer alongside her husband, Peter Jackson).

NSD featured on "the **** [Four Stars] album, released in November 1980, which also featured The Wallsockets, Life in the Fridge Exists, and Naked Spots Dance. These bands comprised the "Terrace Scene" - so named because a number of the band-members lived in a couple of large houses on The Terrace, near Victoria University." [source]

The band released two EPs and an album, according to Discogs.

R.I.P Don Cornelius

From Reuters: "Don Cornelius, creator of iconic dance program "Soul Train" that helped introduce Americans to black culture on TV, died on Wednesday after shooting himself in the head, officials in Los Angeles said. [He said he was dealing with significant health issues during his 2009 divorce case.]

Police discovered the body of Cornelius, 75, at his house after responding to reports of shots fired in the wealthy, hillside area of Los Angeles called Sherman Oaks where he lived.

Cornelius launched "Soul Train" in the early 1970s as a local dance show from Chicago. It relocated to Los Angeles the following year and became part of pop culture history by boosting the careers of young artists such as the Jackson Five, and older artists such as James Brown who were trying to tap into a younger audience.

"Soul Train" aired until 2006, making it the longest running U.S. series in first-run syndication.

Civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton, a long time friend, expressed shock and grief over the news of the death. "He brought soul music and dance to the world in a way that it had never been shown and he was a cultural game changer on a global level," Sharpton said in a statement.

Composer-producer Quincy Jones said he was "deeply saddened" at the sudden passing of his friend, colleague and business partner. "Before MTV there was 'Soul Train,' that will be the great legacy of Don Cornelius," Jones said. "His contributions to television, music and our culture as a whole will never be matched."

ADDED: Why Don Cornelius matters by author Dan Charnas (well worth a read)
Billboard: Kenny Gamble remembers Don Cornelius, origins of Soul Train theme (TSOP)
Don Cornelius, the Billboard interviews, going way back to 1970
Don Cornelius: A Smooth Operator in the Name of Soul. NYTimes

VIDEOS: Aretha Franklin, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Heavy D, Jimmy Bo Horne.... and Don Cornelius grooving on the Soul Train dance line...

Electric wire brushes

Myele Manzanza holds down the drum seat for Electric Wire Hustle. His debut album is out Feb 17, here's a free taster...

Press blurb: "The musically prolific Myele Manzanza has not only held down the drums as part of Wellington’s Electric Wire Hustle for the past 4 years but has also drummed for Olmecha Supreme, Sheba Williams, The Recloose Live Band, The Jonathan Crayford Trio as well as for his father – Sam Manzanza’s Rhythm Africa Band & countless other musical projects.

Myele only started playing drum kit at age 14 but has been hand drumming traditional African rhythms with his father Sam Manzanza from a young age.

“Growing up music and rhythm was all around me and I understood it from a very early age. Through my father I learnt the language of the drum probably at the same time as I learnt to talk! My dad was one of the first Africans to perform traditional African & High Life music live in New Zealand & he has been a tremendous influence & inspiration on my career as a musician.” says Myele.

In 2010 Myele was the only New Zealander selected to participate in the Red Bull Music Academy in London. The rest of 2010 was spent living between Berlin & New York & touring with Electric Wire Hustle with laptop in hand. The fertile breeding ground of creativity of these cities provided the musical inspiration to put together his first album aptly titled One.

“This album was a challenge to myself to broaden my own musical identity as a musician.” he says.

The guest features on ‘One’ are a diverse bunch and include Myele’s own father, Congolese master percussionist and musician Sam Manzanza, NZ’s own Ladi 6, Bella Kalolo, Mara TK, Rachel Fraser & the unmistakable Mark de Clive Lowe on keys. International guests include Charlie K from Philadelphia Hip Hop group ‘Writtenhouse’,Canadian vocalist Amenta and James Wylie’s Boston based woodwind section.

See Myele Manzanza and the Estobahn Eclectic featuring Bella Kalolo, Rachel Fraser  -
10 February – San Francisco Bathhouse, Wellington
23 February – Ponsonby Social Club, Auck­land

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Nerve Ends in Power Lines

Photo: Jonathan Cameron/FairfaxNZ
Last year, I saw musician Amanda Palmer speak and perform at Webstock in February. While she was here, she was trying to track down a contact for one of her musical heroes, Peter Jefferies. He hails from Taranaki, and had a strong following on US college radio in the 1990s. She managed to get an email address for him and got in touch.

This week, as part of her current NZ tour, she visited New Plymouth, and got to play a gig with Jefferies at Vinyl Countdown (the record store opened by the former owner of Real Groovy Wellington). Jefferies hasn't performed live in over 8 years. He works as a music teacher at various high schools in the region.

"If you told me that I would ever come to New Zealand and play with Peter Jefferies I would have s.... a brick," Palmer said.

Jefferies, now a music teacher at Spotswood College, Coastal Taranaki School, and Stratford and Waitara High Schools, said he was extremely flattered to have such a talented musician hunt him down in little old New Plymouth.

"What she does is so great which is why it's special. To know someone who plays as well as her is listening to your music is just great."

Last night's performance was Jefferies' first in over eight years, and also his first time playing acoustic guitar live which he said "scared him more than anything".

"It's only because of Amanda – that's the simple reason why I'm here and why I'm doing it."

Last night, the duo each played a collection of lyrically humorous solo songs to the crowd of about 40, before combining on a number of covers including Oasis's Wonderwall and Wild Thing, a song made famous by The Troggs in 1966." From Taranaki Daily News.

Spontaneous collaboration for Amanda Palmer, Taranaki Daily News, with their footage below, of Palmer singing Creep, with help from the audience. The second clip is Palmer covering a song by Peter Jefferies.

ADDED Feb 29: Peter Jefferies talks about how he became a music teacher, after quitting live performing in 2003, and playing with Amanda Palmer, his first ever acoustic performance... From the Stratford Press.

"Peter came to a point in his life where he didn't want to perform, he needed another path. "I know all of this stuff. Now what do you do with a used muso? How am I going to do what I want to do?'' were questions [he] asked himself.

In 2003, Peter was selected to be part of the New Zealand Music Commission's Music Mentoring In Schools programme, which was life-changing, he says. Nine years ago, Peter took up a teaching role at New Plymouth Boys High School, which then led to Spotswood College, Waitara High School, Coastal Taranaki School and Stratford High School..."

RELATED: Amanda Palmer responds on her blog to Simon Sweetman's review of her Wellington gig with Dresden Dolls. Title: WELLINGTON JOURNALIST ABSOLUTELY TRASHES OUR GIG, MISSES POINT OF MUSIC COMPLETELY. ….or….. “amanda palmer looks back on her press clippings from age 73”

R.I.P King Stitt

Via Jamaica Observer, hat tip to Dubhead...

"Legendary Jamaican vocalist King Stitt is dead. King Stitt, whose real name is Winston Sparkes, passed away at his home in Nannyville, Kingston minutes after 1 this afternoon. He had been ailing for some time.

King Stitt can be described as one of the pioneers of the deejay idiom as his voice was a regular feature in the late 1960s over Sir Coxsone Dodd's Downbeat Sound System during the infancy of the now famous reggae music."

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Toro y Moi - Laneway

An Interview With: Toro Y Moi's Chaz Bundick | CHARTattack.com from CHART attack on Vimeo.

I knew nothing about Toro y Moi before Laneway - I watched two videos on youtube the day before Laneway as part of my familiarisation course, and that was it.

Watching this interview with the band's main man Chaz Bundick, I discovered his latest album was influenced by Italian film composer Piero Umiliani (writer of Mahna Mahna) and his score for the film Il Corpo, which made him shoot up in my estimation.

They were definitely one of my highlights from Laneway, and they had the whole crowd on their feet dancing, and waving their shoes in the air like they just didn't care. Seriously. Photographic evidence below.

This clip from the 2011 Pitchfork Festival gives you an idea of the band live...

Truth and soul

Download the My World Sampler by DJ Akalepse and enjoy the tunes from T&S! My World Sampler mixed by DJ Akalepse!

R.I.P Mary Yandall

Singer Mary Yandall dies, TVNZ.

ADDED Wed Feb 1st: From Amplifier.co.nz: Mary Yandall, an obituary.

ADDED Fri 3rd Feb: Mary Yandall laid to rest in Auckland, photos.

From Stuff.co.nz (Feb 1): Music scene farewells Yandall sister

A who's who of the Kiwi entertainment scene will gather in Auckland on Friday to farewell one of its own. Anna - better known as Mary - Yandall, a key member of the Yandall Sisters, has died aged 62.

A funeral will be held at the Pacific Islanders' Presbyterian Church at Newton from 10am.

Mourners will include veteran crooner John Rowles who took to the stage with Mary, Adele and Pauline numerous times through the 1970s. "They were a united team that worked for every prominent performer in the country through those years," he says.

"They always had a lot of love in their hearts and were a great support to me as back up singers on many occasions - probably the best I've had."

"It always came so naturally for them... they always knew what they had to do."

The Yandall sisters were born into a Samoan family and started performing with another sibling, the late Caroline, as children at Sunday school and various private functions.

Their first recording was in the mid 1960s but they shot to prominence around 1972 as cabaret act - heading to Australia shortly after the release of their first single.

A return to New Zealand in 1973 saw the Yandalls - by now a trio - picked up as a backing group for a number of high profile acts. The sisters appeared on stage with entertainers including Mr Rowles, Billy T James, Prince Tui Teka, Dalvanius Prime and Sir Howard Morrison in the years that followed.

They performed at a tribute concert for Sir Howard after his death in 2009.

The Yandall Sisters recorded numerous singles and released their own album, Up Front in 1976. Sweet Inspiration, released in 1974, was their biggest hit and stayed in the top charts for over three months.

The sisters won the New Zealand Entertainer of the Year Award in 1977 and enjoyed growing popularity as a regular live act and on television well into the 1980s. Rowles recorded Hawaiian Wedding Song as a duet with Mary in the early 70s and the pair performed it live during a concert in 1974.

"She was such a beautiful girl," he says. "And she never changed. She was always kind and a little mischievous in such a wonderful way. I am very sad to know she has gone but she does leave behind such a great legacy."

Yandall will be buried at Waikumete cemetery.

Monday, January 30, 2012


I'm off to Laneway Festival today, got a ticket out of the blue (Thanks Sam!). Excited to see what music I will discover. Of the overseas acts, the only one I know is Feist (her drummer is a Kiwi, apparently). Should be an interesting day.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Raggamuffin crowds

Photo by Stephen Field
Photo by Raymond Sagapolutele

Photo by Stephen Field

From these photos posted on Raggamuffin NZ's Facebook page, the venue looks like there was a bit of room left (I'm guessing the 1st photo was taken early in the day - no time listed on the pic). I heard from someone who attended Raggamuffin that the venue was about two thirds full. Will  be interesting to see what the official crowd estimates are. Doesn't look like it sold out though.

Raggamuffin announced announced on Friday that they would be offering a reduced gate price ticket, unlike previous years, when they have added $20 to ticket price for walk ups. “Sales have been steady but we want a big walk up on the day too” says Festival Director Jackie Sanders.'

ADDED NZ Herald Online reports Raggamuffin crowds numbered about 20,000, down on last year's 30,000. "It's a big success. I would say it's the success story of the summer music festivals," said [Raggamuffin] spokeswoman Sandra Roberts. The story also notes Monday's Laneway Festival has sold out.

UPDATED: From 7 News: "A 20,000-strong crowd attended Raggamuffin's 5th anniversary concert in Rotorua on Saturday with a further 4,500 attending on Friday night, making the two-day music festival the great success story of summer. Promoter Andrew McManus was thrilled with the attendance, saying it was the "best Raggamuffin yet. Raggamuffin was the great success story of summer," says McManus. "We bought the hottest acts and the fans responded. We are looking forward to announcing the date for 2013 in the coming months."

I want you back

Panorama Steel Orchestra, inspired by Esso Trinidad Steel band's Jackson 5 cover, i'm picking. Live in Tokyo, 2009. Wicked version.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Vinyl is making a comeback #258

"It's Alive! Vinyl Makes a Comeback". Thanks for that, Wall St Journal.

excerpt: "... Who's buying? Hipster-centric indie genres skew vinyl-heavy—alt rock, garage, punk. The list of last year's best-selling LPs includes discs from the Black Keys, Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes and Radiohead. Classic jazz does pretty well, and then there is classic rock: For several years running, the Beatles' "Abbey Road" (1969) has been the top-selling vinyl LP...."

From the Guardian... the flexidisc is making a comeback... 

The Ladi and Mr Dyne park it

Julien Dyne dropped his second solo album Glimpse right before Xmas, out in Japan thru Wonderful Noise and UK/Europe thru BBE. There's  some vinyl of it on the way too. Sneak preview here via his NZ distributor Rhythm Method, free DL.

RELATED: NZ Herald profile of Wonderful Noise and their NZ connections.

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, Jan 28

SOS Band - SOS
Jay-Z - Show me what you got inst
Wreck allstars - Keep me dancin' (all night)
Creators - Make an impact inst
Anthony Joseph - She is the sea
Tito Puente - Take five

Tribute to Winston Riley
Sister Nancy - Bam bam
Super beagle - Dust a sound boy
Yami Bolo - When a man's in love
Dillinger - Melting pot
Courtney Melody - Bad boy
Tenor saw - Ring the alarm
Reggie Stepper - Cuh ohnoh
Mckay - Take me over

Chinchillaz - Tiger
Saint Etienne - Only love can break your heart
King Errison - Conga man
Natural self feat Alice Russell - I don't need this trouble
Darlene Love - Too late to say you're sorry
Deon Jackson - That's what you do to me
Sister Sledge - Love don't you go through no changes on me
Billy Preston - Outta space - Danny Massure edit
Cherelle - Artifical heart dance mix
Curtis Mayfield - Give me your love - Todd Terje edit
Arken - Step off
Harry Beckett - Facing it
Lee Scratch Perry - Jungle youth - Congo natty remix
Heptones - Sweet talking - Richie Phoe edit

Friday, January 27, 2012

Boog Brown and Georgia

Couple of very nice tunes from Boog Brown, with production from Georgia Anne Muldrow. Free too! Check out the new 7" vinyl from Boog Brown too.


Another long lost tune from NZ reggae artist Jules Issa. Released on the defunct Deepgrooves label in the early 90s, and included on her album, as the title track. Also a single (?), which is where the cover image in the video comes from. Or maybe that's the album cover? Haven't seen a copy of that yet.

UPDATED August 2012 - I've now got a copy of this release, it came out as a mini album in 1995, seven songs and three dubs. See full listing at Discogs.

Read more about Jules Issa here, and hear her fantastic cover of Diatribe's tune Dangerous Game.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


This tune came out a wee while back on vinyl,  from the splendid brass outfit Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. Now up on Soundcloud as a free download. Get it!

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble - Spottie by ArtDontSleep

One million cigarettes

Earlier this afternoon, Kiwi indie singer Princess Chelsea posted on Twitter: "Today a song I wrote hit 1 million views on Youtube here is a blog post on my thoughts about it."

She mentions that "as of today, the music video for 'The Cigarette Duet' has more views on Youtube than for instance, all of Six60's and The Midnight Youth's music videos, combined (two top 40 artists in New Zealand)."

That's an impressive statement, especially given the ridiculous popularity of those two acts, so I went to Youtube to gauge its accuracy. A quick count of the official music videos for those two bands comes in at around 979,000 views.

Princess Chelsea puts the success down to "... the power of a good song can transcend limitations in funds and resources, and still go on to connect with people all over the world, and on this occasion surpassing the results of even the most structured and high budget marketing campaigns. (In Lana Del Rey's case the combination of these two things has proven to be phenomenal).

"In a chinese whispers scenario, much of the online interest surrounding 'The Cigarette Duet' has been simply due to people from all walks of life passing links around via websites like facebook, tumblr and most certainly not myspace..."

The comments Chelsea has collected from around the internets are amusing, go have a read.. a few excerpted below...

"I love the song but the video is way too hipster!"

"Great song, lyrics are dumb, idk"

"This video is so random"

"The video and the song was so boring that I wanted to shoot myself in the ear and ass maybe the head too"

"What genre is this? I'm new to this types of Stuffz..."

Latin Ladi

Ladi6's song Walk Right Up, reversioned by Latinaotearoa crew. Vocal by Jennifer Zea. Free DL.

Walk Right Up (Latinaotearoa Spanish Version) by Bobby Brazuka

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Greg Wilson in NZ!

Legendary UK DJ Greg Wilson is coming to NZ for the first time, playing show in Auckland on March 2 at the Nathan Club, 51 Galway St, in Britomart. Via the British Council's site...

"Being known as significant, is in itself significant.Greg Wilson is respected as an influence in the music industry for pioneering work over the last few decades. Beginning as the first regular DJ in Manchester's famous Hacienda club, he went on to a career of tastemaking, mixing, remixing & writing (it was he who dubbed the impossibly great term 'Electro-Funk') & was the first UK DJ to mix live on TV.

Greg was instrumental in breaking the new electronic, post-Disco records that defined the whole New York era. He lit up the wonderful nights of pure importance at Wigan Pier as a Jazz Funk specialist and at Manchester's super-influential Legend, and he also taught aspiring Norman Cook (Fatboy Slim) to scratch. He was very much a part of an era called Madchester. He was a power component of it. He still is.

Come and see Greg Wilson perform in Auckland, and thanks to BCNZ, come to Conch Records on Feb 28th at 6pm, to hear the man speak about the DJ universe, and show a demonstration of reel-to-reel DJ mixing."

His bio mentions that " In 2005 Tirk Records released ‘Credit to the Edit’, a compilation of re-edits spanning Greg's entire career, some even original tape edits from way back when. Greg still uses his trusty old Revox B77 reel-to-reel tape machine when DJing out." Hope he brings his reel to reel machine!

Greg Wilson's bio, from his site. And he has a ton of cool DJ mixes and edits for download on Soundcloud. Here's  a swag, check his Chakachas -Jungle Fever edit....

Edits, Mash-Ups & Remixes by gregwilson

Pre-Recorded DJ Mixes by gregwilson

BONUS: Greg Wilson 12x12 from Wax Poetics magazine - some of his fave 12-inch singles. First one he ever got was Jaws done by Lalo Schifrin (Mission impossible, Enter the dragon).

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Raggamuffin in deep funk?

Under the optimistic headline "Big Day Out done; Long live Raggamuffin", the festival's NZ director  makes some amusing claims.

The article starts out by rebranding Raggamuffin as a funk festival (not a reggae one as previously advertised) and then it gets interesting...

"Next weekend's funk festival will be the event's fifth birthday, and promoters are promising the biggest act line-up yet.

The Rotorua-based two-dayer will feature internationally renowned Jamaican reggae and dub artists Sly and Robbie, as well as headliners Arrested Development and Hawaiian-based Pacific reggae artist J Boog.

Raggamuffin's New Zealand director, Jackie Sanders, said there would be twice as many acts as at last year's festival and an extra stage had been added. It will be bigger than the Australian leg, in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane..."

And how do we know for certain that Rotorua's Raggamuffin will be bigger than the Australian leg? Well, all the shows on the Australian leg were cancelled back in September last year. Some side shows were talked about for Australia following the cancellation. 

Sanders continues: "We decided that the way the economy is going we'd throw a bit more at the New Zealand festival this time, and that decision seems to be working."


READ: Universal Music Goes To War Against Popular Hip Hop Sites & Blogs on Techdirt

Hat tip to Russell Brown for the link. 

".. A few weeks ago, leading ad firm GroupM, a part of marketing giant WPP, proudly announced that it had "adopted an aggressive new anti-piracy policy" for its digital media buys. What that meant was that it prohibited vendors that it worked with from putting ads on any of a giant list of sites that it had declared were "pirate sites" -- defined as "sites that support piracy or contain any illegally distributed content...."

[Sites listed include Nahright, The Internet Archive, Vimeo and Soundcloud.]

"... Back in 2009, Vibe produced a big list of the "50 hottest rap blogs." This is basically a who's who list of the top sites in hip hop, and the places that most music producers want to see their music appearing, because it's how they get attention these days. 

Yet, if you run down that list, you start to notice a pattern. An awful lot of those sites are on GroupM's "banned" list. I went through the top 12 sites on that list, and seven of them are "banned" as piracy sites, despite being some of the most popular promotional vehicles for artists and labels alike. Also, a bunch of the top hip hop blogs teamed up a while back to form what was called the New Music Cartel -- and every one of those sites is on the "banned" list...."

"... [the list] appears to show that Universal Music has decided to declare war on the online hip hop ecosystem that promotes its music in a big way -- and some of those sites are hitting back. First of all, it's worth noting that these blogs and sites are considered instrumental to promotion in the hip hop world, and Universal Music knows that. 

"In talking to some of the folks at sites involved, you learn pretty quickly that they get sent tracks and other promotional info from insiders at Universal Music -- including high level execs -- all of the time. On top of that, hip hop artists themselves regularly rely on these same sites, and link people to them via their own blogs and twitter feeds. And yet, a whole bunch of these sites are on GroupM's list... and they got there because Universal Music told GroupM to put those sites on the list..." 

gif kraft

Ah, Kraftwerk gif'd.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Red Eyes tour NZ

Australian reggae outfit The Red Eyes tour NZ for the first time soon, and later this year they play Papua New Guinea, also a first for them. Exciting year! Two members of the band are originally Kiwis, so this tour marks a homecoming of sorts for them. 

Nice Up has an interview with the band here. The band say "We tend to have a darker edge, so the themes are heavier, and the focus on dub means that no one has ever accused us of being 'Barbecue Reggae'!... Expect a big live show, with our two-piece horn section, four-part harmonies, and very energetic front-man El, who reviewers frequently compare to a Maori Iggy Pop."

Some background... "The Red Eyes - Australia’s much loved dub/reggae monster group - celebrate their 10th birthday in 2012 with their first NZ Tour, kicking off at Mint Bar, Wanaka on Jan 26, before taking in venues in Dunedin, Wellington, Leigh, Hamilton and Auckland. They will also appear at the inaugural Winchfest music festival and wakeboarding comp on Jan 28 performing alongside Katchafire, Cornerstone Roots and more.

The Red Eyes ‘NZ Homecoming Tour’ heralds the prodigal return of NZ’s long lost sons El Witeri and Damien Charles. Born and bred in Auckland, the two musicians’ musical roots were developed touring around NZ throughout the 90’s before they reconnected in Oz and honed their alternative dub/reggae style for an appreciative Australian audience.

Over 10 years their fan base has grown exponentially, seeing them play major festivals throughout the pacific and Australia including the 2011 Australian Raggamuffin tour with Jimmy Cliff and Mary J Blige.

Established in 2002 The Red Eyes’ successful 2nd album ‘Red Army’ was a finalist for Best Blues and Roots Album at the Australian Independent Record Label Awards and lead singer El Witeri was a finalist for APRA songwriter of the year. 2007 release ‘Rudeworld’ and their two EP’s ‘Highplace’ and Prolific/My Kingdom’ have collectively sold over 12,000 copies worldwide.

Exploding onto the NZ turf with a string of club dates through Jan and Feb 2012, The Red Eyes are touring their new track Circles, the first single release from their anticipated third album."

Circles by The Red Eyes

Thu 26 Jan: Mint Bar (Wanaka)
With The Nomad (DJ Set)
Fri 27 Jan: 12 Below (Dunedin)
With Skull Dubbery and DJ Jungle Far I
Sat 28 Jan: Bodega (Wellington)
With Newtown Sound feat Israel Starr
Sun 29 Jan: Winchfest (New Plymouth)
With Katchafire and Cornerstone Roots + more
Fri 3 Feb: Sawmill Cafe (Leigh)
With Dam Native and DJ Dubhead
Sat 4 Feb: Flow Bar (Hamilton)
With guest DJ Captain Nemo
Sun 5 Feb: Kings Arms (Auckland)
With Guest Dam Native & DJ Dubhead

Mark de Clive-Lowe mixed

Best of Mark de Clive-Lowe mixed by DJ Spinna. 34 tracks of MdCL originals, remixes (Omar, Shirley Horn, Ed Motta) and collaborations with Kenny Dope (Masters At Work), DJ Spinna, Phil Asher (Restless Soul), Zed Bias and more. Track listing here. Nice one. Free download.

Mark de Clive-Lowe's ninth solo album, 'Renegades' is out now on Tru Thoughts Records.'

The Best of MdCL Mix by DJ Spinna by Tru Thoughts

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Vinyl is making a comeback #257

Okiedoke Records founders Clint McEwen, left and Rob Vera pose with their first vinyl record in Oklahoma City , Wednesday January , 04, 2012. Photo by Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman

"Today vinyl is making a comeback, as it has been doing periodically since the CD came along 30 years ago.

What's different this time is that it isn't just being bought by middle-aged blokes trying to relive their youth, but by consumers of all descriptions who want their music to be tangible and, ideally, audibly impressive...."

From "Records a labour of love in modern world", The Australian.

Meanwhile, in Oklahoma...

"Oklahoma pair stake out new career as vinyl record producers as medium makes comeback

Vinyl records, declared dead a quarter century ago, are making a comeback. It was enough to prompt friends Rob Vera and Clint McEwen to take a shot on forming their own record company in Oklahoma City, Okie Dope Records...."

"... "One of the things American record companies haven't caught on to yet, but in U.K. they have, is if you buy a record in the U.K., it comes with a digital code for the download," O'Brien said. "Here, you still have to buy it twice. In the U.K. the product is so much better. It gives you that much more incentive to buy that. They're even reissuing old records in vinyl in the U.K,"says Vera."

Read more here and here.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

R.I.P Winston Riley

The legendary reggae producer has died, aged 65.

From The Grio: "Innovative reggae producer Winston Riley has died from complications of a gunshot wound in Jamaica. His son Kurt Riley says the 65-year-old producer died Thursday at University Hospital of the West Indies, where he had been a patient since he was shot in the head at his house in November.

Riley also had been shot in August and stabbed in September. His record store in Kingston's downtown business district was burned down several years ago. Police have said they know of no motives.

From the Jamaica Observer: "Kurt Riley told the Observer this morning that his father's grieving relatives could not figure out a motive behind the attempts on his father's life.

"Unfortunately Daddy didn't wake up so we could talk to him to find out if there was something he was not telling us. He was a straightforward man, who was allergic to hypocrisy," he said.

Winston Riley produced the late General Echo's The Slackest album on his Techniques label in 1979, and was instrumental in the development of the careers of Sister Nancy, Buju Banton, Cutty Ranks, Lone Ranger, and Frankie Paul."

Classic Winston Riley productions... love these...

ADDED Via Large Up - Top ten essential Winston Riley tunes

Basement 45s Salute to Winston Riley by CultchaSound

Call me Al

President Obama making a speech at the Apollo Theatre, Jan 19. He mentions  that Al Green is in the room, and starts singing one of the Reverend's songs. Obama has sung at the Apollo and got an ovation. Heck yes. Republicans don't roll like that.

Dotcom dot gone?

Yesterday morning, Megaupload.com founder Kim Dotcom was arrested along with 3 associates by NZ Police in Auckland , as part of a co-ordinated effort with the US Dept of Justice and the FBI, who have issued an indictment against Megaupload.com. Four FBI staff were in NZ to assist Police. The FBI has been working with our Police since August last year on this case.

The four accused appeared in North Shore district court yesterday afternoon, and were remanded in custody until Monday, when there will be a bail hearing. Kim Dotcom told the court  that he has "Nothing to hide."Lawyers for the US gvot plan to oppose bail. Kim Dotcom will spend the weekend in jail. Today is his 38th birthday.

Kim Dotcom was last in the news in December, over a music video he made to promote Megaupload.com, called the  Megaupload Song. Universal Music had it taken down form Youtube over alleged copyright infringement, as it featured some of their artists, but  Megaupload were able to produce signed contracts with the artists involved, such as Kanye West and Will.I.Am.

NZer Gin Wigmore was chosen by Kim Dotcom to sing on the track, but after her recording session at Neil Finn's Roundhead Studio, her manager and label (Universal) refused to give permission for her inclusion, and she was replaced by Macy Gray. The vidoeo initally attracted over 2 million views. Read more on that in my previous post.

Two Police helicopters arrived at Dotcom's Coatesville mansion, but Dotcom did not want to co-operate, retreating to a safe room in the house, which Police eventually accessed - he was found near a sawn-off shotgun.

Dotcom's assets in NZ have been seized, including $10m in financial assets (this number is the same as the $10m he invested in government bonds as part of his bid to stay here). Luxury cars worth $6m were taken also, with various custom licence plates such as God, Good, Bad, Evil, Police, Stoned, Mafia, Hacker, and Guilty.

photo: Autoblog.NL

The NZ Herald reports that the "indictment accuses Mr Dotcom's Megaupload.com of costing copyright holders more than US$500 million in lost revenue from pirated films and other content, and has generated more than US$175 million in criminal proceeds."

The US Dept of Justice shut down Megaupload.com and a  number of associated websites, and charged Dotcom and others with "engaging in a racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to commit copyright infringement, conspiring to commit money laundering and two substantive counts of criminal copyright infringement."

The indictment includes emails between the accused, purportedly showing that Kim Dotcom had instructed his associates to "copy Youtube, one to one." Another email exchange stated that “we’re not pirates, we’re just providing shipping services to pirates”.

US hiphop producer Swizz Beats was listed as the company's CEO on its website in its late 2011 redesign, but according to Megaupload's lawyers, he is not officially CEO.

Following news of the arrests, the group Anonymous attacked and took down websites for the US DoJ, FBI, BMI, RIAA and Universal Music.  Anonymous posted a video on the attacks to Youtube.

Megaupload.com is attempting to get back online, tho it seems unclear just how they have the funds to do that, given the extensive list of asset seizures by the US DoJ.

Read an interview with Kim Dotcom here.
Vice: We read the Megaupload papers so you don't have to.

The FBI/DoJ statement on the prosecutions.
The NZ Police statement on the arrests.
The DoJ indictment in full.
The NZ extradition treaty (PDF) with the US.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's information about extradition from NZ.

ADDED Tues Jan 24: List of other filesharing sites facing shut down by the US, after Megaupload's closedown... includes Filesonic, Mediafire... read it on Pastebin

Follow the traffic: What MegaUpload’s downfall did to the web - This is a fascinating series of graphs...

ADDED Wed Jan 25: Kim Dotcom has been denied bail, and remanded in custody (jail) til at least February 22. His lawyer is appealing the decision to the High Court.

ADDED Jan 27 MTV reports Kim Dotcom is releasing an album, produced by Printz Board.

ADDED Feb 3: Kim Dotcom's bail appeal to the High Court has been denied. He had earlier told the court he has no desire to flee New Zealand and wants to fight the charges against him "on a level playing field".

“I want to stay here, prove my innocence and get my money back,” he said. Source. It is expected he will now further his appeal.

ADDED Feb 8: Video - TV3's Campbell Live goes inside Kim Dotcoms's mansion with his bodyguard, sees  panic room where he was Dotcom was hiding.

ADDED Feb 11 - Printz Board - BEP and Kim Dotcom's producer (Megaupload Song) - talks to GeorgeFMs Nick D about the case. He's been hanging with PNC and Vince Harder while in NZ.

ADDED Feb 22: Kim Dotcom has been granted bail after new evidence came to light.

R.I.P. Etta James

Etta James passed away Friday, aged 73. New York Times obit here.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Thursday, January 19, 2012

JBrown and the Mic Smith remixed

Some tasty free business from some talented local fellas. Get in there

R.I.P. Kearney Barton

Kearney Barton - early 70s. Photo: Kearney Barton/Light in the Attic

If you've ever heard Wheedle's Groove (70s Seattle funk and soul compilation) you know who this fella is. From Light In The Attic Records, who released Wheedle's Groove and the follow up...

"Last night we got an email from Kearney Barton’s niece Patti, telling us the incredibly sad news that Kearney passed away peacefully at 8 PM. He was 81-years old.

Over the last couple years, Kearney’s health had been deteriorating, but he was still sharp as a nail, hanging on and cracking jokes when we last saw him over the holidays. To say Kearney was a pioneer of the Northwest sound would be a massive understatement. Maybe he was the inventor? Whatever the tag, we miss the man.

He taught us about the Frantics, the Sonics, Little Bill, Don & The Good Times, and so many more, but the one that really blew our minds was Black On White Affair’s “Bold Soul Sister, Bold Soul Brother,” recorded by Kearney in February ’70 and released on his Topaz label. It’s the tune that led me to Kearney’s doorstep in 2003, hoping to convince the wizard to let us license the single for inclusion on a comp of Seattle soul from back in the day.

I quickly discovered the man had a heart of gold and a sense of humor that would make your grandfather proud. He was a genuine sweetheart who loved to work and record and record some more, making his famous cookies for guests, and watching a hydroplane race now and then. I remember him saying he’d had a bunch of calls from overseas reissue labels wanting to license the single, but he felt reluctant. Kearney liked the idea of working with a local label. Bless his soul.." 

DLT 2000

Under pressure (published in Pavement magazine, June/July 1999)

When you're responsible for making New Zealand's finest ever hiphop album, the pressure to produce an even more impressive follow-up is intense. Theis didn't deter Darryl DLT Thomson, who recruited both local and international talent to graduate from True school to Contents Under Pressure [note: album was retitled Altruism by time of release]

By Stephen Jewell. Photo by Stephen Langdon

In the 20 years since Sugarhill Gang's Rappers Delight became the first rap single to top the charts, hiphop has grown from a purely Black American phenomenon to a worldwide success. Dis, rappers, break- dancers and graffiti artists can now be found in all four corners of the globe, from France to Russia, South America to Australia and, of course, New Zealand.

Hiphop first emerged in New Zealand in the early 1980s when the seminal hiphop film Wildstyle came to town. But it was Upper Hutt Posse who produced New Zealand’s very first rap single, E Tu, paving the way in the late ‘80s for todays impressive range of New Zealand hiphop artists such as Manuel Bundy, Urban Pacifica, Dam Native and King Kapisi.

Darryl DLT Thomson began his musical career DJing for Upper Hutt Posse before striking out on his own in 1996 with the seminal album The True School, a wonderfully ambitious, intrinsically New Zealand synthesis of hiphop, reggae, dub and jungle. DLT’s entry into the competitive hiphop market not only spawned Chains, his chart-topping collaboration with former Supergroover Che Fu, but also showcased other undervalued local talent, including the Mighty Asterix, B-ware, Teremoana and Mark 'Rhythm Slave’ James.

Now on the cusp of the new millennium, Thomson is set to take New Zealand hiphop to the next level with Contents Under Pressure, an album which has him working with some of the best hiphop talent from around the world, including Canada’s Rascalz and Kardinal Offishall, Germany’s Ono and Shabaam Sahdeeq from New York’s label of the moment, Rawkus Records.

The last time I spoke to Thomson back in 1997, he and Che Fu were off to New York the following day for three months of living hiphop first hand in the home of East Coast rap. So, how was New York, Darryl?

“It was good,” Thomson tells me when we meet up again two years later in the Auckland offices of his record company, BMG. “It verified everything and helped reaffirm things. It was good to see it with my own eyes and to feel it and smell it. It’s not a fantasy but a reality of where we feel our world is. We, of course, live in this plain, nice, green, lovely place. It was a bit deeper than in just a fashion sense.”

However, Thomson’s New York experience didn’t lead directly to any of Contents Under Pressure's global collaborations. “It probably started the first day that I heard any of these artists,” reflects Thomson; “as a young guy, lying there thinking, ‘I’d love to be in the same room as, say KRS 1.' I just love that stuff. From the day I bought Criminal Minded, I’ve dreamt of meeting these people and saying... I suppose, when I was 16, it would have been, 'Yeah, that’s what it’s like where I live.' But nowaday, if I met KRS 1, for example, I’d have to say 'hello, how are you doing? Love your career'.”

Thomson is definitely taking his elevation to the international hiphop stage in his stride, believing it to be a long overdue promotion for New Zealand hiphop.

“It’s just the next album,” he claims. “Nothing’s changed. lt’s a step forward, a step up. This place is just running behind schedule, behind time, through denial of the rest of the world, ie the black world, existing.

Music, art, anything... We basically know the truth. I seem ahead but I’m not. I’m just in time with the rest of the world – or so I like to believe, in my materialistic world. It’s only a simple fact of pleasing my own tastes and my own standards that’s got me here.”

Contents Under Pressure's impressive guest list first began to take shape when Thomson went to BMG’S Kirk Harding with a wish list of hiphop luminaries with whom he wanted to work. “I just wrote down my favourites and handed the idea via the telephone to my publisher, Mitch Rubin, because he’s hooked up in the hiphop world and the music world generally’’ explains Thomson. “He said, 'Yeah, I’ll ring them.' Between us, we came up with a probable list of 15 acts and it went down to about 10 who were willing. But some of them... The excuses!

"I went straight to the top. The highest of the high. KRS 1 is up there on the top of my list; Linton Kwesi Johnson; Xzibit from the Alkoholilcs Liltwit Crew; Rakim... The brothers and sisters who are trying to change the mental state that we exist in. Invisibility they called it in Time. It’s not an attempt to be Quincy Jones, Moses, anyone like that. I was given the opportunity to make my dream list. Its like pushing your shopping trolley through the supermarket and grabbing whatever you wanted.”

An impressive line-up of worldwide rap talent was eventually assembled, most of whom, like Thompson, are rising stars in their own home markets, verging on breaking out into the global hiphop scene.

“There’s both compromise and propaganda in that,” explains Thomson. “It’s partly down to the record company wanting the cheapest artists out there because they had to initially fork out the money to get these people on the record because, if this fails, heads roll. But also, for me, any rapper is good. At the end of the day I don’t mind as long they are talking good shit.”

Harding embarked on a trip to Europe and America in 1997, during which he met Sol Guy; who worked for Arista Records in New York before setting up his own management company Figure IV Entertainment. Figure IV's roster includes two of the brightest talents in Canadian hiphop, the Rascalz and Kardinal Offishall, both of whom contribute to Contents Under Pressure.

According to Kemo, the Rascalz’s DJ and producer, the opportunity to collaborate with DLT was an opportunity too good to pass up. “It’s cool. It’s different,” he tells me down the line from Vancouver.

“We haven’t really done anything like this before but with the next album we release, we want to go worldwide and connect with all types of people from everywhere.’’

So what’s the hip-hop scene in Canada like? “It’s very diverse,’’ claims Kemo. “A lot of Filipino kids in Canada are into breakdancing. You can’t really separate it. Every culture is involved, every race. A lot of black people in Canada are from the West Indies and they’ve got that flavour in their rhymes. Myself, I’m from Chile and hiphop is large down there. Hiphop is definitely worldwide. We’ve been to Europe and I was surprised by the amount of fans who come out. Even if they don’t understand the language, they relate to the music and the presence of the show.”

Unfortunately, the status of hiphop artists in Canada appears to be remarkably similar to that in New Zealand, where the musical style has struggled to gain recognition from the music industry. Comparable to the way The Feelers cleaned up at the New Zealand Music Awards, where Che Fu could only pick up Single of the Year with Scene Three despite the huge success of his album 2 B Spacific, the Canadian music industry begrudgingly gave the Rascalz an award in 1998, presenting it in the first five minutes of the show before the telecast had even begun. The Rascalz had no hesitation in turning the award down, though.

"We wanted to let the Canadian music industry know that the way they were giving us the award was just a token gesture,” explains Kemo. “Even before we won the award, we were like, ‘We’re going to give these people a piece of our minds.’ This year though, they let us perform during the televised part. They gave us what we asked for, so we were like, 'All right!’”

Toronto-based rapper Kardinal Offishall, aka Jason Harrow, also believes that the state of Canadian hip-hop is changing for the better. “A couple of years ago, people like Master P wouldn’t have been able to get played but now Canada is opening up to different genres,” says Harrow. ‘A lot of Canadians are being exposed to different flavours and people are open to a lot more different styles.”

Harrow’s contribution to Contents Under Pressure should be extra special, with the Canadian set to play rap rag team with South Auckland’s Lost-tribe on a track about ‘common wealth’. “The song’s got a different kind of feel but I can flip it and add a nice flavour,” declares Harrow.
“To me, it’s intriguing. Doing stuff with people around the world is the dope stuff. It’ll be good for me over here and good for them over there. It’ll open up doors.”

Thomson also recruited European-based rappers for Contents under Pressure, including South African-born, German-based Ono, who contributes rhymes to the track Black Sun. Once again, it was Harding who made the first connection when he met Ono’s publisher in London. ‘’I was so happy when I was told that I was going to be on a record in New Zealand,” laughs Ono, on the phone from Cologne, Germany “It's so far away. Not many people get that chance.”

Ono is a self-confessed Michael Jackson fan who hadn’t heard hiphop until he moved to Germany 12 years ago. Before then, I didn’t know anything about hip-hop, apart from breakdancing’’ he declares. “I didn’t know that breakdancing was a part of hiphop. I thought it was a dance that people in South Africa did.”

Ono has already recorded two albums for Warner Music’s German offshoot, Downbeat Records, also home to Rockers Hi-fi and Earl 16. His second album was released earlier this year and contains collaborations with Jeru the Damaja and The Roots, musicians who, along with A Tribe Called Quest, reflect Ono’s more cerebral attitude towards hip-hop.

“I like groups like A Tribe Called Quest and The Roots because of their lyrical content and how they rap,” Ono explains. ‘’How they speak about things is not the usual street knowledge. They have smarts in their rhymes. They don’t use the usual ‘Nigger this, Nigger that’ language. It’s more universal, which is something I can relate to myself.

"It’s not old school. I call it general school. They’re in a class of their own. I consider their music songs, whereas most people, even though I like their stuff play tracks. If you listen to an A Tribe Called Quest song, I can almost follow the arrangement of their music. That’s what I loved about the DLT song. It has a beginning, a little talk and an intro and then it has strings and different elements. It’s not just one loop and a baseline. There’s more to the song than a beat and a sample.”

Ono’s lyrics for Black Sun embody this sense of depth, meaning as much to black South Africans as it does to Maori.

‘’I’m very fortunate over here in Germany because I’m doing something that I love doing, which is making music,” reflects Ono. “But, although I’m glad to be here, sometimes I have to think of what would have happened in my life if I’d stayed in South Africa, how the time that I spent there influenced me as a person.

" It made me strong and made me understand that I’m not here for nothing. I have a mission. I have to make everybody else who has experienced what I experienced in South Africa feel strong and not to think that their lives are wasted because they are black.

“DLT told me what he is all about, so I thought, 'Okay, since we seem to be from the same background, I could lace it like that’. DLT and I have the same goal: to remain strong. Black Sun was dedicated, not just to black people, but to all people who are oppressed, to just make them understand that even though they are black, they shine like the sun, the black sun.”

Contents Under Pressure undergoes a distinctive change of pace on Liquid Sky, a languid, r&b inflected ballad sung by Ryad, an Algerian-born vocalist who was raised in Paris but now lives in Brooklyn. Ryad compares himself to Lenny Kravitz and Seal but, despite being signed to BMG’S Urban offshoot, nobody seems to know quite what to do with him.

‘’Here in the US, everything has to be in a certain format,” he explains from New York. ‘’To be a hip- hop or r&b artist, you have to be black. I’m not that but some of my early music had elements of that.”

According to Ryad, Liquid Sky happened purely by accident.

‘’My publisher had a tape of some tracks that DLT did,” says Ryad. “I listened to the tracks and there was one that I was interested in. I went into the studio and recorded the song in a couple of days. DLT heard it and obviously liked it, as Liquid Sky has ended up on the album. I’ve never met DLT but we’ve spoken a couple of times on the phone. I’m glad that it happened like it did because he’s a great guy. He’s very grounded, very spiritual.”

Ryad refuses to be pinned down when it comes to explaining the actual meaning behind the lyrics to Liquid Sky.

“The first time I heard the track it was very cinematic,” he recalls. “I saw this picture of a couple in a motel room in the desert. They’re in the middle of nowhere, which is a metaphor for being in the middle of nowhere in their lives. It’s a moment of silent conversation between two people who have known each other for a long time and aren’t strangers. It all takes place in this room with the neon light outside flickering in the rain; all those B-movie cliches. It’s whatever you want it to mean. I’ll be interested in what DLT thinks the meaning of the song is.

“Ive heard DLT’s other album [True School] and it’s very much in-your-face hip-hop,”continues Ryad. “It’s a nice contrast to have a song like Liquid Sky on his album because everything else is so much about reality. I don’t know what the other writers have written but when I spoke with Darryl, he told me about his background, how he grew up, and his tribe... I felt the same way growing up in France being an Algerian, with racism and all that stuff.

"I grew up listening to hiphop, dub, reggae... When you grow up in the projects, that’s what you get. I was going to say ghetto music but it’s basically music that points the finger at something.That’s what I used to do at the beginning but now I’m more into writing lyrics which are a lithe bit more passive. Not being a doormat but but saying ‘Hey, listen. This is a moment of music. Trust me, this is ambient music.’ These are ambient lyrics. There’s no real defined drawing, just a combination of colours. As long as they have some meaning to you in your life, then it works.”

After True School's home truths, Thomson has broadened his scope on Contents Under Pressure to encompass more universal political concerns.

Simply witness the album’s title. “Contents Under Pressure is a state of mind,” declares Thomson. “It refers to the hook-up with graffiti and the way that hiphop is recognised. There are strategies. We’re going to blast out with a hip-hop track. Since I’m holding stuff will be worth something overseas and I’m going to be at home, I have to hold something in. Slamming some hardcore hiphop lyrical expression down the throats of New Zealand on air.. . Not Brendan Smythe [from NZ On Air] and his crew, but the whole concept of New Zealand as an industry. Fuck, they’re all my best friends: Dave Dobbyn, Neil Finn... But I have to hold myself in because the whole of South Auckland, over a million people, has been denied. Whenever a new radio station starts in Auckland. it’s always classic this or rock that...

“King Kapisi comes out with a tiny indie track, a great video and a cruisy hiphop sense and it just dives into the charts,’’ continues Thomson.

“It rips it apart locally and destroyed video by the fucking Feelers.We saw this happening when we moved to Auckland in 1988: ‘Fuck it, let’s get on top of that one. we’re been happy all this time but now it’. We’ve been happy all this time but now it’s gone beyond where thought it would go.

"Even though I've lived and dreamed of the day when rock didn’t dominate our airwaves, I didn’t dream it would be so quick, so overnight.”