JCK

HANS K & MICRODOT

 

I was thinking the other day that Auckland is such a rich and diverse melting pot of cultures in which Hip-Hop thrives. Most of Aucklands races are represented in local Hip-Hop, although I’d never seen a rapper from the Asian community. Were there any? And If so where are they?

Well, it turns out the Universe heard my question. A couple of nights later, I found myself at a Visual Base Media gig at Juice Bar in Parnell. I was there watching some local talent including two very talented rappers Hans K and Microdot.

Hans K grabbed my attention immediately. Pretty much the polar opposite to the Hip Hop stereo type. I was looking at a slightly awkward looking teenager with glasses who then began to rap. "Wow" I thought. This guy has got something unique. Hans K aka Hanju Kim is only 17 years old and comes from Keri Keri. Hanju is of Korean descent and lives in Auckland. Hans K has been rapping and writing songs since the tender age of 14. He’s come a long way in a short time and at such a young age and with such a huge amount of talent, he will definitely be one to watch out for.

At the same show another rapper of Korean descent named Microdot performed. 21 Year old Microdot aka David Shin has had a song on the radio recently called For the road to riches. When I heard the song on the radio I just presumed it was another American track because of its professional sounding quality. The fact that a lot of the song is in Korean didn’t seem to even connect. Then I saw his video and was like oh cool he’s Korean and he’s an Aucklander. Microdot was a sensation in Korea as a child as a part of a child rap duo called All Black and he was signed at a very young age along with his older brothers to a Korean Label. Hip-Hop has always been a big part of his life with his older brothers also being rappers and producers.

Both performers put on a great show that night and really stood out to me as charismatic gifted performers. So rappers from the Asian community are out there and they are representing hard. Although despite Auckland massive Chinese population I still haven’t found any Chinese rappers. Where the Chinese rappers at?

 

Check out Hans K’s song Nostalgia

 

 

Check out Microdot’s song For The Road To Riches.

 

 

THE COOL ZONE EP BY ARCEE

 

 

 

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21 year old Rona Wignall aka Arcee is a female rapper currently based in Dunedin. On the 21st of June 2014 Rona is going to release her first E.P The Cool Zone.

I’ve had The Cool Zone E.P playing in my car today and I must say I’m liking what I hear.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard Arcee’s music. I caught her What Kinda Rapps you got entry a few months ago. Rona was doing something you don’t see everyday in Hip-Hop. A white girl with clever lyrics and word play rapping while playing the piano. It’s safe to say she caught mine and a lot of peoples attention.

Not long after that, I saw she’d released a music video called Fake Bitch followed by another video Go Hard. These were two impressive tracks and showed that Arcee wasn’t here to play. She’s obviously a serious musician with ambition and the skills to reach her musical goals.

One of the many things I like about Arcee’s sound is her unique accent. Originally from Manchester in the UK, Rona's Manchester accent makes her style reminiscent of Grime. Although I think living in New Zealand has softened her accent somewhat.

Her music is not easy to pigeon hole. I would describe it as Hip-Hop fusion with elements of Pop,Trap, Electronica, Drum & Bass and Dub Step.

The E.P is produced by Darryl Matthew Suasua (Daz on the night shift at Flava) and he’s done an impressive job. 

Arcee is one of the few artists I’ve heard of late who is making relevant up to date music. With the trend in the New Zealand Hip- Hop/Rap scene for rappers and producers to be forever stuck in the past. In relation to this status quo, some may consider her music bold. To me she comes across in her lyrics as a trail blazer who relishes going against the grain. A sentiment I think is highlighted by the diverse influences I hear in her 6 track E.P. 

Arcee is a skilled rapper who has the ability to impress, especially when she switches it up with her double-time flows. Arcee's songwriting, pop sensibilities and hooky choruses (like those found on the title track The Cool Zone) remind me of Lily Allen in places. Although It wouldn’t do Arcee justice to directly compare her with Lilly Allen because she has her own very unique style

The Cool Zone is a quality release and I can see it getting attention from student radio and with her producers connections in commercial radio, It has all the elements to become very successful.

The EP is a sweet fold out poster of Arcee with a CD inside. Get your pre-orders and orders through h.wignall@outlook.com

Check out the music video for Go Hard off of The Cool Zone E.P.

 

THE HIGHER LEARNING ALBUM BY DYSLO

 

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Higher Learning is a 15 track album by New Zealand Hip-Hop artist Dyslo aka Dylan Smiler a prolific, determined, and hard grinding rapper/producer.

I received Higher Learning in the mail and it went strait into the CD player in the car as I drove to the beach.

Dyslo is new to me. This is the first time I’ve heard his music. The first thing I notice is his interesting lisp, then I noticed his story telling. I’m a fan of the story in Hip-Hop songwriting.

The first song on the album and title track is Higher Learning which is about Dylan’s decision to turn his back on his life of crime and history of incarceration to educate himself in his passion of music at MAINZ music school. I instantly related having gone there myself. Alright that’s a good sign. I’m feeling this album first song in.

I notice that every song is a description of Dylan’s life and experience straight from the heart. I get the same feeling listening to Dyslo as I do from listening to Eminem. You feel like you're reading somebody’s diary and getting let in on somebody’s inner thoughts and personal life.

Dyslo collaborates with his partner Kelly Rose who lends her sultry female vocals to many of the songs on the album. Higher Learning also features an impressive list of NZ rappers such as Sir T, Raiza Biza,Capital Z and Ace Hood.

Dyslo’s 15 years of rapping and 7 years of producing show on this album. It takes time and experience to learn how to produce quality songs like these. The interesting thing about these songs is that they’re street and roots Hip-Hop, some could say Gansta Rap, but they also have a commercial appeal. There's a lot of quality tracks on here that I can see getting love from radio.

The stand out tracks for me reside a couple songs in. You could call it the sweet spot on the album. Gutter Talk a song exploding with energy and boasting a hard hitting, mean hook followed by the equally impressive Riding Shot Gun and then the touching and heart felt Stronger Than You Know are the songs that I was feeling the most. But to be honest they’re all good songs and people will connect with different tracks. The good thing is that all the songs have the potential to connect with the audience because of their honest, from the heart content, solid production and skill full musical execution.

Dyslo is a fantastic artist who’s hard work and dedication Is about to pay off. A quality album like this should not be slept on. So don’t sleep on Dyslo and get yourself a copy of Higher Learning.

 

PHD Sex Drugs & Hip Hop Volume 6

 

 

 

Click cover art to go to the PHD website. 

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Auckland based rappers T-Thirteen, Anime and Dj Selecta Q are Permanent Head Damage aka PHD. They’ve recently released their 10th album Sex Drugs & Hip Hop volume 6. Yes thats right you heard correctly a staggering 10 albums.

PHD once again deliver high quality underground Hip Hop with 16 tracks and 52 minutes of goodness. This is their sixth album called Sex Drugs & Hip Hop and as you might expect after all that practice these guys know how to write a song and deliver bars. Believe me theres so many out there that don’t. They’ve got those hooky choruses and the production is nice and full with that punchy bottom end compliments of PHD themselves with additional production from beat maker Zone 1.

An album of up tempo high energy rap songs with that rowdy Public Enemy kind of vibe to the tracks, PHD bring their trademark technical fast paced raps to the board with DJ Selecta Q lacing their tracks with his signature syncopated scratching.

As you might expect a lot of the material is based on their favourite topic marijuana but they also cover topics like the struggle to give up cigarettes and alcohol, the importance of their fans and supporters and how much they like Mexican food and Katie Perry.

I’ve seen some of the tracks out in cyber space already. I remember watching the video to their song Fam & Fans featuring Devolo from Deceptikonz last year and their song Mexican Food almost won the $10k www.theaudience.co.nz prize pool from fan votes.

They’re a great act to see live If you ever have the chance and have had plenty of touring experience touring Germany recently as part of the Gutta Howse collective. They’re even planning a German edition of their album so I guess they’ll be touring there again soon. In fact last time I wrote about PHD they were fund raising to tour Australia. They’re a rap group that Is always on the grind. T-Thirteen is off to Australia soon for his first international rap battle which he funded through crowd funding pledges from fans and supporters . I don’t know anyone else who can match their level of dedication commitment to Hip Hop and hard work.

The group have hard copies of the album available from their website with awesome cover art by artist Deus of a naked tattooed girl with a giant booty smoking a joint. Both T-Thirteen and Anime are talented visual artists also with T-Thirteen being a fantastic graph artist and Anime a professional tattoo artist so you know they’re always on point with their visuals.

Don’t sleep on Sex Drugs & Hip Hop Volume 6. Check out the video for the song Fam & Fans below and get the album for the bargain price of $15 from the website.

 

 

 

Merc Swazey and Netts Money Cash EP

 

 Click on the album cover below to go to the bandcamp page

In a world filled with underground rappers that are hard to swallow, Cash by Merc Swazey and Netts Money, stands out as an easily digestible 8 track EP that will leave you thirsty for more.

I happened to stumble across the new Cash EP on Facebook. It was the album artwork that got my attention. It's funny how these things work. I thought it looked typically posserish and hollow, but something about it was calling to me. I think it was the Hawaiian shirt. Anyway it some how managed to break through my often impenetrable Hip Hop filter system. I gave the album a taste and was pleasantly surprised.

If you're looking for tech raps and serious stories about the hood, you won't find it here. But If you're like me and like things quirky and a little different then you'll love this.

The light hearted simplicity of frontman Merc Swazeys lazy flow combined with the crisp flawless production of Netts money AKA Joel McIntosh will transport you to a tropical paradise of Hawaiian shirts and Ice cold lemonade where you can get "Breezy".

In a word this music is refreshing.

The subject matters are very light hearted and comedic, repetitive and simple. It could easily be perceived by some as "wack" ...but....It's just not. Somehow It works and works really well and there in lies the genius of Merc Swazey and Netts Money.

What makes it work? Well the reason I found this act and album so tantalising is the top of the line production by Netts Money. The songs are beautifully crafted with build ups and breakdowns and structures that actually work. Something that can be hard to find in underground Hip Hop. 

Netts Money is a fantastic producer. These tracks are crisp and full of layers and intricate rhythm. Also I really like the nonchalant approach of Merc Swazey. He's got a slow Lazy flow but he's clever with it and you find yourself hanging on every word. You get the feeling he really doesn't give a fuck and is just doing what he do. They're obviously a great team and together these two make magic.

Merc Swazey and Netts Money both reside in Melbourne Australia but are originally from Christchurch New Zealand and their song Most Breezy has just been picked up by Radio One Dunedin and RDU Christchurch. I can see these guys blowing up. I'm usually right about these things. So watch this space and for god sake download the album and get breezy with Netts Money and Swazey........Swaaaaaaazeeeey............. Swazey...........Swaaaaaazey..............Swazey.

Swaaaaaaag!

 

Turner Knows

 

I’m listening to the album Turner Knows by 22 year old gravel voiced Jordan Turner. Jordan also known as Jay Tea is inspired by artists such as Potluck Technine and Eminem as well as his Wellington Homies and fellow rappers.

Turner Knows is a 23 track concept album of dark venomous Hip Hop with some great production and very tight technical flows.

Jordan has some serious street level life stories for a man of his age, having been in and out of jail for various offences. I can hear Jordan takes these feelings and emotions from his struggles and shares them on every song.

An album of this length takes a bit of digesting, but to me the length is a testament to the dedication and hard work that it obviously took to make an album like this. The music from producers Mozart and Twan and Turner himself is driven by 808 drum kits and dark ethereal synths and Jordan and guest rappers ride these bars beautifully.

The album was released in December 2013 and took nine months to make and believe it or not he has the next album in the pipe line. The lost scripts of Turner knows.

The song content is very emotive and heart felt and definitely angst ridden. The song Blessed to be here with the female chorus hook singing “In a constant war between the Lord and The Devil but I’m blessed to be here”. Is a good example of the concept running through most of the songs in this album. It would take a life time to analyse this lyrical content on these 23 tracks, but to sum it up; This is a well thought out concept album portraying a man going through struggle and dark places, clinging for dear life to scraps of positivity for the strength to keep going.

Jordan has been producing music since the age of 15 and although the album content was written after Jordan got out of prison, I feel like his time in prison was well spent learning how to face his inner demons and turn the chaos of life and all the negativity around him into well crafted works of Hip Hop music.

Another cool thing about this high quality album is that it’s completely home made and independent all the way down to the design printing and manufacture of the CD and album cover.

It’s safe to say that Jordan is an inspired artist and a talent to be reckoned with.

I think this album is excellent and will resonate with fans of dark lyrically technical Hip Hop. It's a huge accomplishment for Jordan and for an independant release.

I'm expecting big things from Jordan Turner in the future. So show some support and buy the album and if you buy a hardcopy cd you will also get a free download of the digital version and a signed laminate and scan code for more free downloads.

 

 

                                     Click on the album art to go to the bandcamp page. 

 

Tokie Konez Royal Flush

 

 

 

 Tokie Konez is a NZ rapper from west Auckland and he has a new album called Royal Flush. To describe Tokie Konez, think Cypress Hills B- Real meets Chopper Read rapping over 90’s inspired boom-bap.

I like Tokie Konez he’s one of the NZ rappers I have time for. Not just because he’s got great bars but because he’s a down to earth guy with no undeserved ego like you get with some of these scumbags.

Speaking of Scumbags one of his songs off of the new album is called Scumbags. A veteran of the Auckland rap battle scene Tokie always approaches his topics with a tongue in cheek sense of humour and often includes self depreciating lines.  I guess when most of your friends are battle rappers you want to make fun of yourself before someone else does. But in saying that, on this album Tokie Konez and friends makes fun of everything and everyone.

The album is full of skits and entertaining morsels. The flows on this album are solid, the subject matters are down and dirty and strictly non commercial. The album features rappers Myles Murphy, Hegz and Tyson Tyler just to name a few and tracks are produced by Tokies brother Brothyl Beatz with contributions from his partner in crime Kamasuda and Daddy Noise to name a few.

The first impression I had when I listened to the album was that it was a bit thrown together and raw. But the more I’ve listened to it the more it’s grown on me. The deeper I’ve gotten into the album the more I find myself appreciating the lyrics and flows as they capture my imagination and tantalise my ears.

In my opinion the stand out track for me is Chookabity produced by Kachin with cuts by DJ Joon.

The album has a pretty sweet cover featuring a photo of Tokie Konez sitting on the toilet wearing a picture of a King of Hearts playing card. Get it? Royal Flush!!.... Get it?

Royal Flush was given away for free on The Sons Of Mums website and had so many downloads they exceeded their limit and had to re upload it. It's a pretty sweet album so check that bad boy out and if you’re feeling it, buy that shit. Tokie Konez has kids to feed…….. A lot of Kids to feed………… Seriously!

The albums single ‘How it’s done’ has a hillarious music video, check it out below.

Best Quote "Don't you know who the fuck I think I am"

 

 

STRAITJACKET BY JCK

 

 

           

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Click here to buy Straitjacket

 

 

CREDITS

PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY JAMES CASTADY-KRISTAMENT

FILMED AND EDITED BY ROBERT (THE ROBBA) HARRIS

MENTAL PATIENT: JAMES CASTADY-KRISTAMENT

VAMPIRE: JAMES CASTADY-KRISTAMENT

DOCTOR: PAUL COWSILL

NURSE: ABIGAIL BRITTEN

MASKED DANCER: ABIGAIL BRITTEN

FEMALE MENTAL PATIENT AT TABLE: LEISA MATTHEWS

MALE MENTAL PATIENT AT TABLE: GORDON SMITH

GUARD ONE: SAM (MC MAS) MARTIN

GUARD TWO: HAYDEN HALL

MALE MENTAL PATIENT TWO: TAYLOR-JAMES PENJUELI

 

How to write a song.

 

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Have you ever wondered how a song is made? I was always curious as to how other songwriters came up with their songs and to this day I still only have a vague idea. I think songwriting is such an intimate and almost spiritual process that it's hard to just show someone how it's done, but I will attempt in this blog to explain it the best I can.

There is no one way to write a song but I would like to share with you one of the song writing processes I use. This technique is basically capturing Ideas as soon as they pop into your head. Gathering the ideas and then piecing them together and then moulding them into a song. The key is not to sensor your self or worry if it makes sense or if it’s in tune. Just be open to ideas and let them come to you.

In this video I’m at work but a catchy hook starts bouncing around in my head, so I grab my phone and record it so I don't forget it.

Alright I have a hook. So I will use this as the basis of my chorus. I quite like the catchiness of it and it relies on one of the important elements of a good song which is repetition. Now I need a verse. So I switch into what I call "psycho babble" mode where I just say what ever comes into my head and just say random shit. I’ve always used rhyme as a device in my song writing so I start doing this and try to rhyme things and eventually come up with some words that will paint a picture in the minds eye. In my case usually a dark twisted picture. Now these might not be ideal lyrics but instantly I have the meter of the words I’m looking for (or in layman terms the rhythm of the words) and also the basic tune.

Now I need to start thinking about song structure. There are many song structures you can use but one of my favourites and always a good place to start is the standard pop structure of verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, double chorus, outro. So I need a bridge. So I basically just start singing and see what comes out. Bare in mind that I’m only partially paying attention. Most of my focus is actually on driving. Probably not very safe but I drive all day and multi tasking becomes easy. I think writing while doing something else helps in releasing the subconscious and helps you not to get too caught up with over thinking. So words and a melody come to me and the melody reminds me a bit of the melodic themes I've heard in The Lord Of The Rings movies.

Now I take these Ideas and I start piecing them together. I start singing the parts that I have in order of structure and I feel like I need another part to break it up. So in this recording you can hear a new part developing. This is the “going down down down” part. At the time I think It could make a good pre chorus. So I’m now trying different things out.

The next stage is taking it to the piano or guitar or what ever you play and putting music behind it. Until now I haven’t picked up an instrument at all to write this song. It’s all developed in my head. So If you don’t play an instrument you can still write songs. You can take the song to an instrumentalist who can then put music behind it.

The way I came up with the chords for the song is by playing the melody on the piano. Analysing the notes used and choosing chords that use those notes and sound good.

I wanted to keep the tempo of the song the same as what I could hear in my head so I actually figured out the tempo from the speed of the recording by matching a metronome click track to the song and getting the right pace for the music.

Now what style did I want? I could go heavy metal, pop, rock, dance, or what ever I felt like. I wanted a modern dance pop sound so went for Electro House. Alright so I need a dance sound, ok lets make it a typical House beat with some stereo typical elements like the House build up and break down. Remember it’s the stereo typical elements of a genre that make it that genre so it makes sense to use them.

 

It took many hours of trying different sounds and instruments and playing with the progression but because I had some solid elements to start with it came together very nicely and ended up as this.

 

I added a few new parts as you can hear and as a new song developes you get a better Idea of what direction to take it in and thats when you can try new things and add new elements.

 

I gave the vocal takes to a friend of mine and he made a remix. The music is completely different but it's still the same song. This shows you how infinite the possibilities are with a song.

 

     

 

They say to become a good songwriter the first one hundred songs you write are just for practice. So just start writing and write as many as you can. Get excited about them. It doesn't matter If they're good or bad just make them to the best of your ability and try out what you have learned about songwriting.

I got a lot of my knowledge from studying at The Music and Audio Institute of New Zealand and also went to songwriting seminars by people like Pat Pattison Songwriting professor at The Berkeley School of Music and Jason Blume who has written songs for The Back Street boys and Brittney Spears. These people will point you in the right direction but If you don't put it all to practice you wont get better. Alright off you go. Go write a song.

 

Sons Of Mums Noisy Neighbours

 

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So I finally got a copy of Noisy Neighbours by Sons of Mums and I have to say I enjoyed the shit out of it. It stayed in my CD player in my work van for three days which is probably a record for a New Zealand Hip Hop album.

Why did I like this album? Well it was the humour in the skits and the lyrics also the topics of the songs, like losing your weed stash and living with the bitch misses and also my favourite was the DIY song where I learnt that “its actually quite fun when you do it yourself”. I also liked how they kept the writing close to home including references to actual people in their lives which made it feel like you were being let in on their private jokes.

The songs on the album are very musical which can be sometimes lacking in the Hip Hop genre but there’s some pretty smooth female vocals going on in some of these songs and a live sounding funky vibe in the music.

So who is Sons of Mums ? Well Sons of Mums consists of two brothers who go by the names of Tokie Konez and Brothyl Beatz and a long haired Indian fella who goes by the name of Kamasuda. The album also includes guest appearances by Tyson Tyler, Hegz, Sike 1, Skolar, Boxxx, Gracey and Spearman, a lot of whom are stalwarts in the Auckland Hip Hop battle scene.

The Sons of Mums album release party is coming up for those of you who live in Auckland and that is being held on the 20th of October 2012 at 7:30pm on 11 Veronica Street New Lynn. They'll be selling hard copies of the album there too. This is a rare opportunity to see these boys perform live... it doesn’t happen very often. So get yourself along !

Check out the first single off Noisy Neighbours

Wez da budz