Thursday, May 23, 2013

Che Fu - 2bSpacific revisited

Added Sept 11 2018 - 2bSpacific is getting a partial release on vinyl for the first time ever, out Sept 28  -note, three songs are missing off the album, including 'Without a doubt'. Pre-order from Flying Out.

Che Fu revisits his 1998 debut album 2 B S.Pacific (produced by Andy Morton aka Submariner), later this month at Tyler St Garage, playing it in full on May 30. The album was his first major statement after getting fired from Supergroove  - Che: "I didn't leave the band, I was thrown out."

Che talked about the events surrounding the creation of his debut album in an extensive interview in Back2Basics magazine with the mag's editor DJ Sir-Vere, back in 2005. The following comes from that interview.

Che had a meeting with his label about his solo album and was asked to bring along examples of what he wanted it to sound like. He took along Mad Lion's tune Take It Easy, a  heavy ragga hiphop track produced by KRS One. Che is in the BMG boardroom, he's smiling and saying "Do you like it?'" and they freaked out. "They didn't know how to pigeonhole me and didn't like the reggaeness of my [demo] tracks. They thought they'd send me to New York to take the reggae out of me! That's the worst place to send someone if you don't went them to get into Jamaican styles. Brooklyn dancehall, boh! ... I was also sent there to look for some producers  but it didn't really work out."

Che came back and started recording his debut album with DLT, following on from their collaboration on the hit single Chains (more on that song's creation in a minute), but Che decided against pursing this.

"I wasn't really happy with the way things were going [with DLT]. It was like people didn't trust me to do my shit, my way. I could understand because I hadn't done it before but I felt in my own head I knew what I wanted to do. I called Andy Morton and finished it off with him."

Che also revealed how he wrote the lyrics and the distinctive chorus for Chains. "DLT was doing his own album and asked me to do a track. So I turn up at the studio to do this track. As far as I knew I was just going to bust a rhyme on one of his songs. I go in the booth and he says 'You got your chorus ready?' I was like 'Chorus?' I didn't want to look like I didn't know what the fuck I was doing, so I said 'I just have to go to the toilet.'

"I go in to the toilet and am like 'oh my god, oh my god! He thinks I'm doing a whole track.'So I stand there, in the toilet, and came up with 'Come break my chains come help me out...' I went straight back to the booth and sung it even though I had made it up 30 seconds before!"

Che had never told anyone that story (apart from his manager and his lady) before that 2005 interview with Sir-Vere.

Like Sir-Vere says, "consider the genius of this man. Chains would go on to hold the number one spot in NZ for six weeks ... off DLT's hot track and a hook written by Che Fu, in 30 seconds, in a toilet."

(ADDED Sept 11 2018: Mark Williams aka Slave interviewed DLT about his musical career for Red Bull Radio in August 2018, DLT said that "It was never intended to be a chart  topping song. It was a straight up, lets make the Ponsonby anthem for the ten of us. It was an introduction to Che on how to rap, you spit this sh*t on your first song, say everything that f*cks you off. So I wrote the first verse, said 'here bro, carry on from there.' ... We did our first version, he f*cks off on tour [with Supergroove], I didn't like it, it had no f*ckin' hook, I played it to Kirk, 'yeah, it needs a hook'. Che comes back from touring Europe, - 'Bro, we need a hook', that's when his wharepaku story comes into it, and the song was built.

"The different versions of it are not lyric, the different versions are production. The first loops on Chains were LKJ and Jah Shaka, Mutubaruka ... I'd been told 'nah, version 12 sucks, it's the wrong format for Mai'. So I'm listening to Biggie's One more chance, hiphop version, and we're listening to Das Efx, and I was like half way in between there - Chains.")

Perhaps one of the most surprising admissions in the interview is about Che's singing voice. I'd always thought he'd had a natural singing talent. Turns out it took some work...

Che: "I'd played guitar for four years [in Low Down Dirty Blues Band/Supergroove] and didn't do any singing ... after one gig [where I did some singing] parents came up and started hassling, saying 'you should get Che to sing more.' This is when I was 16. That's when I thought if I'm gonna sing, man, I've gotta come out phat  ... so I started practising, training. Asterix, he's my favourite in the 12 Tribes Band. When he first came to the house he couldn't sing for s**t. Then one year he was bad [good], so I asked him 'how did you lift up the level?' And he said 'I just listened to a lot of Earth Wind and Fire.'

"So I tried to copy that. People always say 'You could always sing', but I was like no, I learnt it." Che says he spent a year singing along to Stevie Wonder, Donnie Hathaway and others.

Much respect to Sir-Vere for pulling such a great interview out of Che.

The album 2 B S.Pacific features contributions from Chip Matthews on bass, Ned Ngatae on guitar, and production from Andy 'Submariner' Morton, all of whom worked alongside Che in the hiphop collective Token Village. Chong Nee played keys and produced two tracks; Juse produced one also.

Scratches on the album were covered by Manuel Bundy, with DJ Sub Zero also making an appearance, and Che scratches on a few tracks too. Guest vocals for King Kapisi, Ras Daan, Phatmosphere, all Token Village MCs (TVMCs). Album art by Otis and Dick Frizzell, photos by Greg Semu and Glenn Jowitt.

The performance happens May 30th, as part of a series of shows at Tyler St Garage for NZ Music Month (incl @Peace, Julien Dyne and more). Limited free entry, GeorgeFM has vip tickets to giveaway. Doors open 730pm.

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