New Zealand’s Onehunga has been nurturing some of the best Hip Hop for decades, and the arrival of newly formed crew SWIDT is no consolation. SWIDT, which stands for “See What I Did There?”, is a creative collective on the verge of cementing their name in the game. Comprised of six members: SmokeyGotBeatz, Spycc & INF, JAMAL, Boomer and AZA – the collective features names who have had their own wins in the last 12 months, alongside new names to the canvas.
What are your earliest memories of music?
SPYCC: I think one of my earliest memories of music would have to be at my Grandma’s house. My uncle had one of those throwback boomboxes that had the built in mixer. He used to play the Rhythm Volume 10 cassette tape all the time.
INF: My dad was always playing music in the house, classic rock & jazz. A mixture of everything really. I remember sneaking into my brothers room when he wasn’t home to play records. That’s when I discovered Noreaga. I was infatuated with the production by the Neptunes. (Noreaga – Super Thug) Think it was 98′
Who were your musical influences coming up?
INF: I listened to a lot of east coast rap so of course Biggie, mobb deep, Wu tang, Rakim, Nas and Jay Z. I think it’s because my brothers listened to a lot of west coast hiphop I felt like venturing down another lane & I liked it.
SMOKEY: Dre & Dilla mainly… Lot of West Coast producers (Battlecat, Quik, Khalil etc…) Dj Premier, Hi-Tek, Easy Mo Bee, Fredwreck… List goes on! I’m a beat-head at the end of the day, I could listen to one instrumental for days and not get sick of it.
For those not familiar describe your hometown Onehunga how was it growing up there and what has it contributed to NZ Hip Hop?
SPYCC: Onehunga is like a time capsule that you can revisit whenever you want. There’s a lot of duality where we come from too. From even just the fact that there could be state housing on one side of the street and a million dollar property directly across from it. To the liquor stores that are directly across from Churches, from gangsters to law abiding citizens. It’s just one big multicultural / multi-ethnic melting pot. It’s got it’s own flair, the people here are weird in their own way & it adds to the lifestyle here.
INF: Apart from the work we’ve done, Red Eye Mother fucking Society man. They had such an huge influence on not just the Onehunga scene but thru the whole of NZ. They really brought the aggression & technical rap to life with their own slang and energy.
How did you guys meet and when did SWIDT form?
SMOKEY: All grew up together. Me and INF were raised under the same roof. Boomer lived behind our house. SPYCC lived a couple houses down the street. AZA lived up the road from us. And Jamal came out of nowhere…..
What do you each bring to SWIDT?
SPYCC: The door to success has six locks right? Well each member of SWIDT own a singular key. When we all put our keys into each lock in unison, the door to success opens.
INF: We bring charisma, attitude, energy, weed, heart & soul.
What is your favourite track off the project and why?
SPYCC: I think my favorite track off the album would have to be ‘Ain’t A Phase’ because it’s my song.
INF: My fav track by us is ‘NMPIS’. That created the wave. It was really organic how we made that as a group. And it’s about Stoneyhunga. Level up is dope too, the energy.
SMOKEY: Parental Advisory because it was my first big placement
What do you want listeners to take away from the album?
SPYCC: If anything, I’d hope that the album momentarily quenched their thirst for the Stoneyhunga vibes we bring. Because we’re about to hydrate the game with this new SPYCC & INF album that we’re working on.
How would you describe the SWIDT sound?
SMOKEY: Pretty solid…
What 5 tracks/albums do you feel best represent Hip Hop from New Zealand?
Red Eye Society – Bad Muthafuckaz
Dam Native – Behold My Kool style
Scribe – Not Many Remix / Scribe 2001
Home Brew – Friday
SWIDT – NMPIS
What one thing does NZ Hip Hop need right now?
INF: They NEED to stop performing for bar tabs.
Which artists/producers would you most like to work with?
SPYCC: Amy Winehouse. On the production front, 2003 DJ Toomp would definitely be the one.
INF: Pharrell, Raphael Saadiq, Nora Jones, Andre 3000,
9th Wonder, Timbaland, Fuckin heaps.
SMOKEY: Anderson Paak, the singer from NxWorries and that singer fella who just signed to Aftermath.
What’s the best piece of advice ever given to you?
SPYCC: The best advice I have ever received was ‘run it straight or don’t run it at all’ and I told myself that.
SMOKEY: Can’t remember.
What does the future hold for SWIDT?
SPYCC: For our music to gain recognition on a global scale and to impact people’s lives in the way that other artist have impacted ours. Also, for Penny Lanes to hook us up with a lifetime of free pies.
What’s your definition of Grindin’?
INF: Positivity. Persistence. Patience.
Interview by Duggs.