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To coincide with the 10th anniversary of Scribe’s “The Crusader” album Grindin’ caught up with the people who played their part in making what is widely considered a modern day Hip Hop classic in Australia and New Zealand.
Malo Luafutu AKA Scribe – Christchurch MC
Peter Wadams AKA P-Money – Auckland DJ/Producer
Chris Chetland – Sound engineer at Kog Studios, Auckland
Shan – Dunedin DJ/Producer
Ali – Christchurch DJ/Producer
David Dallas – South Auckland MC
Savage – South Auckland MC
Ladi6 – Christchurch MC/Singer
Tyna – Tolaga Bay MC/Singer/Musician
Chris Graham – Director of “Stand Up”, “Dreaming” and “Not Many” videos
NOT MANY (PRODUCED BY P-MONEY)
Scribe – Definitely one of my fav P-Money beats. Its simplicity still astounds me to this day 3 chords some synth horns and a fairly basic beat but the feeling these 3 chords invoke in me is epic. The 1st time I heard this beat it was on a tape of about 20 beats I was sitting in my 2 bedroom state flat Christchurch East. I initially had the verses and just pasted them on but the chorus I wrote to the beat.. It just came to me as I played the beat over and over stopping and rewinding as it were. It was the missing piece to the puzzle really..the intro to the album that I’d been waiting for.
P-Money – Scribe intended for “Not Many” to just be an album intro, not a standalone song, but as we were recording the track it felt so good that we had to extend it out a bit and give it proper structure. We recorded this on the same day as “Stand Up”. That was the first session for “The Crusader” album. The rhymes were a couple of Scribe’s older verses at the time. He would rap them over any double time beat at any of his live shows. When we finally recorded those rhymes on this beat it was just magic. There is something special in this record that affected people on a large scale.
Chris Chetland – This one was obviously the biggie for the album (well if you also link it in with the remix). It had all the right elements just naturally, so was one of the easiest mixes on the album and my favourite to do, especially for the bass. I remember getting the mix locked and and looking at Pete, and going “Woah, this one is big”, from memory he was still in the mode of seeing it as the album intro rather than a single per se, although that may just be my own internal myth of wanting to pick “Not Many” before anyone else for the importance it was. Album mixdowns can get a bit surreal on it and this album was no exception, it might have been this song that Pete was skipping round the desk singing in a comedy voice for his (and my) entertainment, other stuff he was known for doing during studio time was drawing his name in a selection of different Hip Hop style fonts, usually with ‘Rulez’ attached and sometimes a stylized turntable or record. Pete often let me have them and I’ve kept many of these works in the hope that one day they may be considered relics or national treasures and my grandchildren can show them on antique Hip Hop roadshow.
Pete and I spent a lot of time working out how the best international tracks got the sound they did, basically because there was no one in NZ that we knew that had worked on any big US Hip Hop records. So there was lots of trial and error flying blind in the years leading up to “The Crusader”. Lots of the sonic techniques were directly imported from dance music, especially for getting good bass. We would also check out useful tracks Pete brought in and pull apart the elements, for example particular snares and look at the waveform, spectrum, filter elements out (e.g. high end) so we could focus on what was happening in other areas. It was a really good mix of science and art, and even if it did result in us reinventing the wheel more than once for various studio tricks, it was still our wheel coz it had our name on it.
BEEN THIS WAY (PRODUCED BY SHAN)
Scribe – Produced by my good friend DJ Shan from Dunedin. This track was originally called “Come & Get Me” but Frontline had a song out doing big things on student radio at the time with the same title. Not much I can say about this track except I make music with my friends everything is based on that. This track is dope and was very easy to write it was a message to all MC’s out there that I’m coming for the throne. All in all I’m just glad I got to release a track with my bro Shan who really is my brother from another mother.
Shan – The first time Scribe showed me what he had written for the track was at Ali’s house in Christchurch. Ali had this small boom-box in his kitchen where Ali, Money and myself would crowd around and play each other our latest beats whenever we were in Christchurch for gigs. It was kind of a tradition that we would do this when we were all in town. Linda (Ali’s partner) would cook these legendary meals. Because the three of us lived in different cities, it would always be great to catch up and hear each other’s new beats etc.
Anywho, I remember being in the kitchen, Scribe had come over for lunch and he rhymed me what he had written for the track so far over the beat playing on the boom-box. Scribe hadn’t finished the whole song yet but he told me he had a line in there for me. I was stoked. “Ask DJ Shan yo I been up in here, you better get it crystal clear your skill just doesn’t compare”
I love Scribe’s delivery on this track, the vocal is amazing. It’s pure energy and basically him declaring unquestionably ‘he’s the man’. While I love “Too Late”, “Scribe 2001” and “Souled Out”, this is probably my favourite Scribble track.
P-Money – DJ Shan did this one. He killed this beat. This was always a strong track when we performed live.
DREAMING (PRODUCED BY P-MONEY)
Scribe – The title says it all really. When I first heard this beat I was in love with it, it reminded me of a track I liked at the time “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton LOL so it was pretty easy to envision it would be a good radio joint. Another P-Money classic beat to really understand where this song came from you have to understand where I was when I wrote this. I’d just had a baby and was getting mad pressure from my baby mama’s Mum to quit music and get a real job we had a huge fight about it one day and she told me I was a “dreamer” and to give it up to provide for my girl and new baby coz we were mad struggling at this point. I decided that she was right though we never really got along and that I would get a job but I had to release one album before I leave Hip Hop my first real love which I had dedicated all of my teen years into pursuing and living the culture. So this beat was the perfect beat to tell my ‘story’ of struggle and the rap dream which was very common in NZ but an impossible one. I’m not a confident singer so when I wrote the chorus and melody it was intended for my childhood hero Che Fu to sing but P-Money convinced me to sing it best I could and with his magic touch made me sound half decent so I reluctantly agreed with him to leave my hook on there. The 2nd verse I wrote to my Mum who was in a mental institution at the time. She had always been my rock and foundation and this was my way of letting her know she is the reason I am who I am and why I continued to dream and even more so pursue my dreams.
P-Money – I made the beat for this song in New York at my friend B-Side’s apartment in Harlem. Pretty sure the sample is from one of his records that he was gonna throw out (thanks B!). Scribe sings the hook on this track. He wasn’t very confident with his singing vocals at the time so it took a bit of encouraging to lay down the tracks. We used his best takes (no tuning!) and completed the record. I remember Scribe dropping in to the mastering session and swapping the second and first verses around at the last minute. It stressed me out to do major changes at the last minute, but I’m glad he suggested that. The final record makes a lot more sense that way.
Chris Chetland – “Dreaming” was, along with “Not Many” the mix I was happiest with, and reminded me that the fewer elements you have in a track competing for space the better you can make each element. It was also cool as Scribe sang on this track, he’s got a nice voice and it always surprised me he didn’t do more singing.
Chris Graham – This was such a different retrospective song than the other two street anthems so we knew for the video we had to change tack again. Lyrically it’s a rear view mirror with Scribe reflecting on his life to that point, so that’s where my concept of looking through photo albums came from. Making the storytelling literal, while also personal by seeing Scribe as a kid slowly growing up through the years, and the family shots as he refers to them. I wanted the video to open in non conventional way, so until you hear & see Scribe, you didn’t know it was a Hip Hop video. So we shot timelapse clouds to emphasise the themes of day dreaming and life reflecting we see him doing later in the video, while he writes lyrics into his rhyme book.
It was a much quieter and stylistic shoot compared to the other two, which allowed us to play a lot more with the palette, both in locations and wardrobe, which we colour graded quite saturated in post. Since strategically the 3rd single from the album was showing another side to Malo, our objective with the video was to do the same thing. It’s a contrasting video to the other two, but when I look at them as a trilogy, I’m proud to have been one of the contributors to making “The Crusader” a landmark and classic album. It felt like a very special time in Hip Hop in NZ, and now in retrospect, I feel like it was the first real golden era.
MY LADY PRODUCED (BY P-MONEY)
Scribe – This song pretty much wrote itself firstly P fucking Money blew my mind when he sent me this. Never before had a beat like this been produced in Australasia and it was so good I had to write a song good enough for P to let me have the beat coz a few of P’s beats were getting shopped in NY so the race was on in my mind. I’d just broken up with my baby mama due to the distance and strain of me moving away to get the album done so this song was for her. I missed her so bad, and was devastated I had been with her since I was 18 years old and the lyrics flew off the pen. When I saw her again I played her the song and she cried and ultimately she took me back and I was a happy man. 17 years later we are still together and just got married last year on the 12/12/12.
P-Money – There were a couple of 3/4 timing rap records coming out back then so this was my version of that style. This is the “girl song” on the album. Rap love songs are pretty hard to do, but Scribe’s confidence enabled him to pull this off.
THEME FROM THE CRUSADER (PRODUCED BY ALI)
Scribe – First of all I love this title. I used to listen to a lot of movie scores and albums on vinyl as a kid and there would always be a “Theme from the..” title track. The whole “Crusader” album was like making a movie for me in terms of telling my life story and being the patriotic ‘Cantabrian’ I am this song embodied how proud I was to represent and come from Christchurch City which is deep south and more known for racism and KKK. I always felt like I was on a crusade for Hip Hop music especially in my city where Polynesians only made up 10% of the population and also our regional rugby team is The Crusaders hence the album title. This beat produced by one of my best friends DJ Ali and is one of my favourites. It’s so hype and when it drops you cant help but head nod to it.
Ali – Shan had a legendary club night at Bath St in Dunedin, best club night in NZ for years hands down. We performed there regularly cause Shan’s our brother from another mother. Students from all over NZ were at Otago University and the constant exposure to such a diverse crowd help spread the word across NZ that there was this monster living in the South. This was before Facebook and internet hype. You had to grind weekly and build a base, pass out flyers, do student radio, word of mouth, all the stuff that’s redundant now but really created a hunger to succeed back then.
Scribe would perform and try out new verses whenever we were out touring and doing gigs. I’d throw on this Big Daddy Kane/Alchemist beat called “The Man Icon”, he’d rock the verses that would end up being “Theme From The Crusader” and people would get hype in Dunedin even though he was pretty much saying – I’m from Canterbury, I’m the best, there’s none greater. Crowd reaction in Christchurch? Forgetaboutit!
When it came time to record the song and there was no beat yet, Malo was like “I need something hype, this is gonna be the title track.” I had seen clubs go mad whenever he dropped those verses so I knew it needed a certain energy. I loved “Who Got Gunz” by Gangstarr/MOP/Fat Joe and I wanted to do something similar, no hi hats, just kick snare and trumpets – the sound of triumph. Scribe only ever had two verses, that was it, quality.
I got to complete the “Who Got Gunz” circle when we did “The Summit Anthem” featuring Mareko, Flowz and Scribe. It was the same beat, Mareko reppin Auckland and Flowz for Wellington, Scribe’s first verse and Brotha D tying it all together. Dirty Records weren’t happy that we were basically remixing the title song but there was a balance in the Hip Hop community back then and that song reflected that we were moving as one.
SCRIBE UNLTD (PRODUCED BY SHAN)
Scribe – Another Shan classic this is one of my favourites lyrically. The concept is my mission statement as an MC, as Scribe and everything Scribe as an MC embodies.
Shan – Not much that I can really say about this track other than it was all Scribe. He basically had it all planned out, his mission statement “to be one of the illest”. He even came up with the cuts in the hook that Money did.
TOO LATE (PRODUCED BY ALI)
Scribe – One of the oldest tracks on the album no one can fuck with Ali on the soulful tip. This beat was bananas when I heard it and I had been going through a period of getting hated on by other Hip Hop Heads. So I wrote this to them as a “Its Too Late” I’m on the come up and no one can stop me. Ali and I had made a few tracks after the disbandment of our crew Beats N Pieces a 6 man group of 3 DJ’s, me rapping and 2 singers from Invercargill. I was introduced to Ali through a mutual friend Kuru Apirana aka DJ Kaboom. In his wisdom he teamed us up and it wasn’t long before we formed a formidable songwriting partnership that helped me grow into the MC I am. Our mixtape “The Boil Up” was a street hit and our hard to find songs have become urban legend.
Ali – “Yeah it’s too late, Scribe and Ali since 98…” The early mix of “Too Late” was originally released on DJ Sirvere’s “Major Flavours” Vol.2 a year before “The Crusader” came out I think. Without Sirvere this song wouldn’t have seen the light because I’m slow at the best of times but he said if you don’t have this done by this date it won’t make “Major Flavours”, and therefore it wouldn’t have been on “The Crusader”. We were in Auckland days before the 2002 Hip Hop Summit and recorded the song at Dawn Raid Studios in Papatoetoe. Props to YDNA and Brotha D for making that happen. I love the fact we recorded there because I’m originally from South Auckland. Might be the only song on “The Crusader” not recorded at Kog.
We actually recorded a song called “Souled Out” for the album but for some reason it was switched at the last minute for “Too Late”. Last minute.. Too late..Early Mix..some sort of time theme happening there! My favourite line from this song is “You never heard? Yo I submerged from the underground…” I love it but is that even physically possible? Haha. I shifted to Christchurch from Auckland to study architecture in the mid 90’s and my Dad moved in music circles that included Malo’s Dad and family. We were destined to cross path’s and Malo and I formed a friendship that has lasted to this day. Scribe has the rare combination of skill, storytelling ability, voice, charisma and Michael Jackson dance moves, nobody can mess with that.
Chris Chetland – This beat came from Ali which was cool coz he always has good sound choice. The main challenge for beats coming from multiple writers on an album is getting them fitting cohesively with all the other writers tracks. Every writer has their own accent, so you have to make sure you show the commonalities rather than have people focusing on the differences. Kinda like if you have a NZ’er and Aussie in the same room talking their accent might be similar enough for most people, until they say milk, or fish and chips and then the accent differences start jumping out everywhere and you start thinking about stuff that is off topic…which could have distracted from Scribes performance and the album flow. These are the sorts of things that trouble mix engineers while others sleep.
P-Money – This is actually a Scribe & Ali track that was released prior to “The Crusader”. I always loved the song and Scribe wanted to include this on the album so we added it to the tracklist. Apparently Ali wasn’t cool with that and it caused a bunch of drama for us at Dirty Records at the time. We should have been more clear with communications and got proper clearance for it but we failed on that. Chalk it up to haste and inexperience! Eventually things were sorted out but it definitely was awkward at the time.
STRONGER FEAT. TYNA (PRODUCED BY P-MONEY)
Scribe – This song I hold dear to my heart the beat is one of those inspirational victorious overcoming type beats. I remember this was the last track I wrote for the album and it was really hard to finish because I had to immerse so deep to pull it out. My life’s always been a struggle it’s always been a fight and my music is always an expression of me and drawn from deep within me in hope it will inspire and help the listener with whatever they got going on in their life. I got my bro Tyna on it because I’m a fan of his and knew he could bring a lot to the song in terms of his depth of storytelling. He killed it like I knew he would! I used to play this instrumental in the morning to get me motivated thats the thing with P-Money beats he already provoked emotion through his beats which made my job easy. I just had to interpretate that emotion into lyrics I still love this song and what it means to me personally.
P-Money – I think this was one of the last songs recorded for the album. It was definitely the last beat I made for it. Tyna came through and smashed the feature verse. Always a dope cut.
Tyna – I was really honoured when Malo asked me to feature on “The Crusader” the Hip Hop scene was totally different back then and even though it was competitive, as it should be, we were all tight and respected each other massively. Malo played me the beat and I had already been messing with it. P-Money gave his beat CD to a handful of MC’s so we all had the same beats and I had been freestylng over the “Stronger” beat for a minute before Malo played it to me. I wrote my verse in a day and recorded at Kog Transmissions with P-Money watching over the session I had worked with P before so I knew what I was in for haha!
He’s really straight up and if it the recording isn’t sounding or going right he’ll tell you straight away. I remember at first he wasn’t feeling my verse and I was thinking…shit! I was really proud of that verse and to this day I really like it…. I wanted to bring it for Malo’s song and I thought the wordplay, flow and rhyme patterns were some of the best I had written. P came around in the end I think he could hear what I was going for. Its a weird kinda format cause I think Malo does two 8 bar verses and I do one long 20 bar verse in the middle.
I remember the album dropping and just blowing up and Malo’s career just skyrocketed. I was performing the song with Malo on the main stage at the Big Day Out I looked out at the sea of people and thought shit! Malo is really doing it!
Driving from Auckland to Hamilton with Koma and Scribe about 2 month before “The Crusader” dropped Scribe was playing us songs off the album. I remember saying to Malo “Wow bro its mean imagine if you sold like a 1000 copies” and he was like “Nah bro what if I sold 2000? Woohoo!”. Then i was like “BRO! What if goes GOLD!” and we all laughed. Nek Minnit…..
STAND UP (PRODUCED BY P-MONEY)
Scribe – I’ll never forget the first time I heard this beat It was on a tape that had the word P-Money beats sellotaped on it. I love the guitars and heavy bassline in the chorus and when I heard it it was like magic. This song I wrote with the intention to let the rest of the Aotearoa Hip Hop scene I was going in and I wanted to inspire them to not be afraid of who we are as Hip Hop artists and as a community. This was also my favourite video to shoot the vibe was exciting a lot of energy and all our friends came. It was the people involved in it from the extras to the crew who made the video…something special. This song broke the record for longest running #1 single in NZ Music history and was the beginning of a lifetime dream come true.
P-Money – “Stand Up” was the first song we recorded for the album. Scribe had just come off tour with DJ Sir-vere and was really feeling this NZ Hip-Hop community vibe so he wanted to write a song that captured that and shout out all the artists pushing the movement forward. It became such an anthem for us all. My plan with the music was too incorporate a rock edge to it. The nu-metal thing was still lingering and Rap/Rock collabs like Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit had been huge. Rock music was still a big component of pop radio back then too. It sounds contrived to say but I was definitely looking to capture the ear of that mainstream audience by putting guitars in the mix. It worked. “Stand Up” was Scribe’s breakthrough single and hit number one in NZ, becoming the longest running NZ number one single in history. 12 weeks in the number one spot. This was the track that broke Scribe in to the mainstream.
Chris Graham – I remember the first time Pete came and played “Stand Up” to me vividly and it blew me away, both as an bold anthem but also in the big balls move of placing an over enthused electric guitar solo right as the bridge. I wanted to make the video for it on the spot and didn’t even have a concept in mind yet. I had already worked with P and Scribble on “Remember?” from “Big Things”, so we all knew each other already.
Pete and I collaborated on ideas, he offered the idea of an underground Hip Hop gig, like a word of mouth type feel to the gathering. I wanted to make it feel like it was starting small with just the two of them & then design a macho one shot feel that unfolded all the whose who of the scene at the time as they kick open the door and get enveloped by friends, fam and fans in the alleyway, which then lead through the door to the huge indoor carpark that would reveal hundreds of heads. It worked it was magic well, on the night it was. Prior to that I had the usual director’s anxiety that fuck all people would show. Scribe was still fairly underground and on the come up at that stage, but he took the risk that paid off to get the crowd.
Two nights before the shoot, he opened for De La Soul at the St James and at the end of his set, he invited the whole crowd to come by the shoot to be extras. I was there and I winced, there were thousands at the gig, so I pictured a riot, but as the rule of thumb goes, about a quarter to a third showed, which was just the right few hundred we needed. The other blessing was that all but one crew or group that he lyrically name checks, showed up for the shoot but I ain’t naming names.
Pete, Scribe and I all got on the mic before we shot the first shot and made hype speeches to the hundreds of extras to get them amped to make some history with us. I even played the KRS1 intro track about the rising up of the Hip Hop generation, which I think added some fire. Essentially I told everyone that if they wanted to be seen in the video, they had to make sure that they pushed their way to get on the left or right of Scribe or they just would’nt be seen in the frame. I think that really sculpted the mosh pit style approach to the energy in the video. People pushed and shoved to get in the shot, you can see it in all the faces in video if you watch it without looking at Scribes delivery, but at the extras alongside him. People fell over, but no one actually got trampled…miracle!
All in all, it was one of those magical shoots, where the synergy of everything going on for local Hip Hop at the time, all the MCs, crews, graf artists, Bboys & Bgirls, all culminated in an archive of what was alive at that time, that year, on that night. 10 years on, I’m still mad proud of it.
Chris Chetland – This one was a tough one to mix, the samples were really really lo fi..I remember sitting in front of the mix and saying to myself “Fuck…, fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck…how am I gonna make this “Stand Up” to everything else on the radio and album?”. There’s always one hardest track to mix on every album and, Murphy’s law being what it is, it’s usually the first track you have to mix, and coupled with that on a tight timeline. This was coupled with an error in the session I was delivered for mixing (computers are out to get us) where all the tracks files were crosslinked meaning I had to recreate the entire vocal takes for “Stand Up” from the raw files by comparing and matching it to one of the earlier demo bounces. It took a couple of days from memory to find all Scribes correct phrases, words etc and match them to the demo bounce. In retrospect it probably would have been easier to call Scribe back in to redo it, but his delivery was so right for the track I doubt we would have been able to capture ‘that moment’ again as well.
NOT MANY REMIX FEAT. SAVAGE & DAVID DALLAS (PRODUCED BY P-MONEY)
Scribe – It was P who convinced me to remix it with Dave and Savage as the song’s popularity grew like crazy. Getting Dave on was a no brainer he was the new kid making waves as the next MC depicted to become a phenomenon. We all knew that although I don’t think he did at the time and Savage was one of our fav dudes in real life but also his voice was the missing link to the track and in our eyes a star in the Dawn Raid camp although Mareko was getting all the push then. It’s funny coz I was staying at Callum’s house just up the road from the gas station where Savage worked and would see him and say “You finished your verse”? Who’d believe the kid would one day sell 2 million singles in the US I can proudly say I did! Savage was special it didn’t take long to figure that out once you spent time with him. The whole video was P’s idea and he showed me the “Flavour In Yo Ear” Remix clip and said he wanted to do that he’s a fricken genius. The most phenomenal fact about this track is from the conversation P and I had about remixing it to the completion of the song with Dave and Savage and the video was 7 days.. 1 week! Pretty crazy!
P-Money – We had “Stand Up” already on the charts with the original “Not Many” included on the single in stores. My man Omega B was working in a big music store and called me to say everyone was asking about the “How many dudes roll like this” song because we had featured it in the video to “Stand Up”. “Not Many” was proving to be even more popular than the lead single so me and Callum discussed releasing it as it’s own single to catch more sales. While we were debating the merits of that I was struck with this idea to remix the song. That way we would give the fans more value than just repackaging the same track and we could give the song a longer life. But we basically had 10 days to make the song and shoot a video in order to hit the delivery deadline with our distributor. It was a crazy deadline but we really believed it would work.
I called Savage to get on it because he had just stole the show with the “Stop Drop N Roll” cameo (on Mareko’s “Here To Stay” video) and I also called this new kid that I barely knew named Con-Psy (David Dallas) because I wanted to include a fresh new voice as another talking point for the remix. The next call was to Chris Graham to see if he could pull together a crew and shoot the video within this crazy deadline. I brought him two music videos Craig Mack – “Flava In Ya Ear” and Dizzee Rascal “I Luv You” and said lets make something that looks like a combination of these. Thankfully he was down to do it and the end result was absolutely legendary.
We booked a day at The Lab studio in Mt Eden and I told the guys to write 16 bars each to the “Not Many” beat (which was actually a mistake because the verses were supposed to 12 bars each). Savage figured out the timing and wrote 12 but Dave still had 16. I don’t think he liked it when I chopped his verse down to 12 but at the end of the day it all worked out.
When we did the session it was so rushed and under pressure that we still hadn’t worked out who should go first or how the record should start. The mood was kind of low in the room and Savage steps to the mic and does the “Would you please give it up for SAVAAAGGGEE!!” and we all crack up laughing. He had this huge grin on his face and it cheered everybody up. Of course I kept that take and eventually tagged it on the end of the song. It was a perfect finishing touch.
Savage – It’s a Saturday afternoon and I’m on the road with DJ Sirvere, DJ Ali & DJ Shan (SAS Crew) at the time aside from being a member of the DKONZ and supporting Mareko’s album “White Sunday” I was also one of Sirvere’s MC’s and we had just finished a show in Queenstown and were heading towards Dunedin and P calls through and says “Hey buddy wanting to know if you’d be keen to jump on the remix to “Not Many” for Scribe” I was already feeling the song and was like “Hell yeah!” So soon as we got to Dunedin I went to the nearest music store and copped Scribe’s “Stand Up” single which had “Not Many” on there with the instrumental.
At first I struggled to find the right flow for it and when I got home that Sunday evening I actually put the instrumental on repeat and fell asleep with it on my headphones and I woke up the next morning with an idea and wrote it down straight away which happened to be the verse I recorded days later and when I did get to the studio it was really quiet so just for a laugh I said to P to record me and thats where I did the “Can you please give it up for Savage” line which cracked the fellas up and had I no idea P kept it. After laying my verse down P asks me “Bro can you try to redo your own version of the hook?” I was put on the spot but just thought of Scribe’s bridge part where he shouts out each side of Canterbury and so I twisted it my way and as the word South Auckland didn’t sit right I said it in Samoan Pito Saute Aukelagi which means southside of Auckland and it stuck.
I use to actually write that on my tape cassette demo’s from back in the day that floated around the hood. At that time I worked at a petrol station just up the road from Callum August (P’s business partner) and him and P came over to see me the next day and said we are filming the video to the remix I was like cool “When” and they replied “Tomorrow” so I found someone to change my shift with for the shoot for the following day and it was released not long after that. I heard the final cut and was just blown away by it with David Dallas’s killer verse and the way Scribe re-wrote a new verse with so much energy it just stayed on repeat until it finally got released. Man that song created magic and everyone who played a part in it had gone off to be huge players in the game from the director to P to Scribe, D-dot and even me! We made a classic Hip Hop song that made history and have each gone off to create history in our own lanes and still here 10 years on!
From the call from P to this day I’m just honoured that I played a part in a movement that changed the sound and quality of NZ Hip Hop! Look even the Aussies claim the song LOL which is fine with me I really don’t mind!
David Dallas – I only met P a few weeks prior through Nick(41). Keep in mind that though Scribe and P weren’t this huge mainstream phenomenon they’d go on to be only a couple months later, at this time these dudes were already big stars to me – just as a regular Hip Hop fan, I had P’s debut album, had watched their videos on TV etc so for them to be hitting me up to jump on something seemed like the craziest thing ever.
I think P told me the remix was gonna be “Not Many” on a Sunday and said I’d need to go in and record the verse on the Tuesday. For some reason he was on some secret squirrel shit and also asked me to keep the Saturday free, but wouldn’t tell me the reason. I’d find out after we’d done the song that it was for the video shoot – guess he thought I might freak out or not focus on the song if he told me.
I recorded maybe 4 songs in my bedroom prior to this. So it was the first time I stepped foot in an actual studio and had someone else record me. I recall getting there early and putting my verse down before the others arrived. Got told the 16 bars I had written would have to get chopped to 12 to fit the song, I didn’t mind the verse being shorter but I was thinking it was gonna sound really random being that there wasn’t a proper ending to the verse. P always got everyone to record a tracks of just adlibs, I remember him being like “Just say whatever… vibe out” or something to that effect so I just awkwardly rambled some shit and didn’t think too much of it. When I got the finished track back, he placed the adlib of me sayin “Let’s Go” in as the last line of my verse, sounds like a small thing but to me that was genius. It sounded like I actually performed it like that and he effectively gave the verse a proper ending. Those little things that P did like that, taking Sav’s “Please give it up for Savage” and putting it as the outro etc really opened my eyes to what the actual act of producing a song is as opposed to what I thought it was i.e just making a beat.
I might’ve been the only one who had a car at the time, because I recall after Scribble came through and did his verse we had to hop into my fucked up 94 Civic and go pick up Sav and bring him to the studio after his shift finished at the gas station. On a comedic note, later that night I was dropping Scribe off at his cousins house and my car died in the middle of G.I on this busy ass street, without saying a word the bro got out the car and pushed us to the nearest BP LOL… I only met him that day and his single had just hit #1 on the charts yet here he was, no shame, pushing this car through the intersection with traffic beepin at us etc. LOL, he will forever be the man in my eyes just off that.
Chris Graham – “Not Many” was an interesting one, as having raised the bar so high with the immediate success of “Stand Up” having gone #1 and stayed there to break records, we were left with a challenge. I recall sitting down with Pete who always had strong ideas to offer saying “WTF are we going to do to top “Stand Up”?” and he simply said “the opposite.” and he was right. It got me thinking. “Stand Up” was black and white and full of people, we could make “Not Many” in colour and strip back the crowd to just focus on the performance of the 3 MC’s.
“Stand Up” had a busy as environment, “Not Many” could be minimal and almost empty somehow. I starting thinking about shooting in a studio, which got made me think of the classic “Flava In Ya Ear” remix video by Craig Mack hence all the video homage references. As a random aside, my good friend Isidro Urquia was the DOP/cinematographer on that video for an up and coming Hype Williams, and had shot my student film when I had gone through film school in NYC with him. But while Flava was in black and white, we loved the idea of a black and white wardrobe and styling against a white psyc [curved infinity wall], but still shoot in colour, so basically the skin tones would be the only colour in the video. P and Scribe felt all of this when I pitched it to them, so that was us.
The shoot was a blast, as it was the essence of the 3 bro’s having a blast together and also to an extent, battling each other in performance to camera. In retrospect, its a snapshot of the start of 3 strong careers. I recall David aka Con Psy being understandably nervous, I think it was his first video appearance and I gave him the directorial pep talk to step up to the level of the now well known Scribe and Savage who was known well through his Deceptikonz crew. Jumping ahead a bit, I remember editing the video a week later and swinging by the gas station where Savage was still working, to tell him I was sold that he was going to be a star, while we was pumping gas.
We all had a blast that day and it was refreshing for me personally to minimilize everything in the video, as I usually try and make big ideas, but this video allowed me to just focus on directing performance, and pushing the guys to give it their all as they did. I still think of these two videos together as strong siblings, brothers from this album.
Chris Chetland – The good thing about this track being 140bpm was that I suited dance music (particularly breaks), so I chucked this acapella over a remix I had recently done of UK breaks act Aquasky’s track “Cobra”. It ended up getting lots of play round the world by Breaks and Electro DJ’s at some pretty big events which was nice and also added some extra Euros to Scribe and Pete’s APRA cheques.
Shan – I remember being in a van traveling from with Queenstown (or Christchurch) to Dunedin. It was Sir-Vere, Ali, myself, Savage and I think Usouljah(?). We were doing some shows to promote a release of “Major Flavours” and were driving back to Dunedin to do a show at Bath St which was a pretty legendary club in its day. During the drive back, Savage got a call from Money asking him to be on the “Not Many” Remix.
We got back to Dunedin and we were staying at this strange motel at the Gardens. I remember leaving the motel to grab a bite to eat at dinner time, Savage was sitting at this table under the stairs in the motel just writing and rhyming to himself quietly. I had no idea at the time of course that what he was writing would actually turn out to be one of the most classic, most iconic and instantly recognisable verses in NZ Hip Hop.
SO NICE FEAT. LADI6 (PRODUCED BY P-MONEY)
Scribe – Probably the most feel good track on the album P-Money did it again with this joint I got this the same time as “My Lady” remix beat. P had just evolved in his beatmaking to a whole other level with this batch. This beat just made me feel good warm and summery. It gave me the same vibe as “Oh Boy” Camron so I went to work straight away. An ode to Hip Hop and my family I talk about my discovery of Hip Hop as a kid going to school and growing up with my cousins in the hood and one of them just happened to be Ladi6. My brother and I started breakdancing as kids watching Beat Street and that was my introduction to Hip Hop although at the time just thought it was dancing. The last verse namecheck most of my cousins but I have way to many so couldn’t name them all as my Mum has 11 brothers and sisters and my dad 13 but its a family song and I love performing it with Ladi6. Also it does have some prophecy as in the 1st verse opens with “Im so hot put me on..this year we number 1..” I still get shit from some cousins who’s name didn’t make the song..it is pretty hard to rhyme fa’ama’atalatolotitasese..lol
P-Money – Scribe and Ladi6 are first cousins. They are really close. There was no way we could complete the album without her vocals on there. This song is pretty much Scribe’s dedication to his whole family. He name drops almost everyone in the third verse. I always thought it was cool that he did that. Including the whole family on the album.
Ladi6 – This album is now an embedded piece of my (our) families history. Malo (MC Scribe) had made some of these verses/songs well known family classics before he had even moved from Christchurch to Auckland to start on his infamous and historic road to record breaking success. He cleverly slaved over them with an eye for detail and an ear for the sincere.
We all moved up to Auckland together living out of our cousins house in South Auckland where Scribe set up shop, bucket bong, black book, pens and a tape player in the laundry room where we would all pack in there day in and out, straining to hear his newest verse, over his latest P-Money instrumental, memorising every last lyric. By the time the album came out most of us cousins knew every damn word to every damn song.
Scribe was kind enough to ask me along to sing backing vocals and perform our own rap jam, ‘Scribe,L.6,’ as part of his BDO Oz tour and around various shows in New Zealand. It was such an incredible learning curve for me as an aspiring artist and musician, an experience I have and will always treasure. Even though “The Crusader” was MC Scribes beginning, it also marked a start to my own journey. Something I will always be grateful to him for.
MY LADY (K.J.T. ACOUSTIC VERSION) (PRODUCED BY SCRIBE & JOJO)
P-Money – This was the original version of “My Lady”. Scribe would rap this while his friend Mark Vanilau played acoustic guitar. So we recorded it as an alternate mix and included it on the album.
Chris Chetland – From memory we put the chorus on the guitar partly because we thought it was cool but also because the recording had a few issues with it and the chorus plugin covered them well enough to get away with. A bit of smoke and mirrors goes a long way to making everyone’s lives easier some times.
Mastering the album was a bit of an exercise in patience as there were so many versions to do of each song, main, instrumental, acapella, live backing, TV, with and without guest vocalists, plus the set ups for vinyl pressings etc. The best part was doing the comparisons to all the other local Hip Hop releases and recognising that I’d been part of the sound of something pretty special, a milestone of sorts. Then checking it to international acts and seeing how far we’d come production, mixing and mastering wise over the last four or so years when Pete first turned up with a remix he had done of Che Fu, it was really cool. Listening through to the album for this article it still stands up really well and is along with Pieter T’s “Completion” album one of the two Urban albums I’m proudest to have worked on.
Scribe – I love this version with the guitar played by my childhood friend Jo Jo AKA Mark Vanilau it kind of happened by accident. We were in a band at the time Verse2 with Ladi6, Parks on vocals and guitar, Julian Dyne on drums, Jo Jo on keys and myself. At band practice Jo Jo started jamming the acoustic and I rapped “My Lady” to it for kicks. I loved it so much I had to put it on the album.
Feature pieced together by Duggs.