Its the early nineties… Stanmore Bay New Zealand.

I’m a snowy haired undercut-rocking class clown, obsessed with NBA Basketball, making mixtapes from the radio and making my friends laugh.

The school disco reigns as the highlight of the form 2 (year 8 ) social calendar, kids would give their eye teeth for a Aqua and Purple Charlotte Hornets Starter jacket and a pair of rusty coloured Origin Jeans, Reebok pumps were a status symbol, and a having Shaquille O’neal rookie card was looked upon like owning a Rolls Royce Phantom.

Relationships were simple, ask a mate to write a note on paper, give it to the girl you liked, asking if she would go out with you, if she said yes, great, you had a girlfriend… and it wouldnt be at all unusual to not say a word to one another until your friends pushed you together at the disco, where you would share an awkward bonafide (double entendre) hugdance to “I swear” by All 4 One or “One Sweet Day” by Mariah and Boyz 2 Men.

(It was c00l 4 b&s to abbrevi8 with numbers back th¥)

Those were the days where Hip Hop and R&B reigned supreme, Montell Jordan told us how he did it, Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince’s “Boom Shake the Room” cassingle was played 35 times on repeat at lunch time on a shiny black Teac Cassette player (with auto rewind and twin tapedecks; *Ugh* *What?*) and TLC were at the top of their game, even your Dad had a copy of Crazy Sexy Cool in his car and your Nana knew all the words and dancemoves to “Waterfalls”

Kids would form a circle at School disco’s to worship other kids dancing to “Whoop there it is” by Tagg Team and “Sweets for my Sweets” by CJ Lewis, it seemed like the only white artists around were Michael Bolton and Kenny G and since I had never seen a slam dunk montage on NBA action cut together over the sweet sounds of an Alto Saxophone, I was having none of it.

It wasn’t until the release of Greenday’s ‘Dookie’ in 1994 that I can really remember anyone I knew listening to anything aside from “Black Music”, Nirvana’s classic ‘Nevermind’ had been out a while and was just starting to gain momentum with some of the kids I hung out with, and many of them started taking up the guitar. But not me. I stuck with what I knew, I had no time for “That head banging music” as my mum would call it, I didn’t trust it, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” seemed so angry and depressing to me and the kids who had always listened to that kind of stuff seemed to come from the wrong side of the tracks, and it seemed that it made them want to either beat you up or commit suicide.

I think at the time I was having too much fun to really buy into what the grunge/punk scene stood for, I would have felt like a fraud, brooding and listening to Bush, and it probably wasn’t until the 1997 release of Foo Fighters “The Colour and the Shape” that I really gave any form of guitar-centric music a try.

But in the meantime I was forming a bond with a close friend that has stayed with me until this day: Hip Hop
Now, as I have mentioned in one of my other blogs, it can be shaky ground being a hip hop fan when you’re a middle class white guy, I’ve always been aware of the type of dudes labeled “Wigga’s” who have adopted the Black American culture so much that they have warped into this bizarre characture, rocking silver-blue Wu-tang Jeans and stocking caps and talking using MC hands at all times, (gesturing like Busta Rhymes in “Woo Ha” even when asking Nana if she wants a glass of Cordial)

When you’re from a sleepy beachside retirement community like Stanmore Bay, saying something like: “Im’a fuck yo bitch ass up Homie” sounds as out of place and unnatural as I would have sounded asking for a “pineapple fritter and two dolliz chups” in a Bodega in Brooklyn. So through my Hip Hop appreciating career, I have been very conscious of not being one of “those” white hip hop fans.

I always thought my obsession really started with the release of 2pac’s “All Eyez on me” I used to listen to the Album on repeat for hours at a time, and I’m a little embarrased to say i could still probably recite “Ambitionz as a ridah” from start to finish in it’s entirety. There was something about 2pac’s lyrics and flow and the way he seemed to spit rhymes angrily, deep from the chest that struck a chord with me, which was strange because as a 12 year old white kid from New Zealand, Makaveli and I didn’t really have much in common. Nonetheless I was obsessed with the East Coast/West coast battle, and DeathRow record’s rocky last few years; Snoop Dogg and Dr Dre’s controversial departure from the label. And of course Pac’s death.
I remember seeing it on the evening news and going completely numb, I must have played “I ain’t mad atcha” 50 times that night.

As time went on and popular culture lurched its way through the 90’s many forgettable and sometimes frankly embarrassing phases, music began to change with it, and after a while I began to appreciate Rock Music, I remember seeing Foo Fighters perform Monkey Wrench on the MTV video music awards one year and really losing my shit, I mean I’d been aware of them but that was the first time I can remember thinking:

“Wow! Its like Grunge, but not shit!”

And so for the next few years I dabbled in some other genre’s

Dig Your Own HoleHomeworkMezzanineYou've Come a Long Way, BabyOK ComputerTravelling Without MovingSublimeOdelay

It was with the release of “Hello Nasty” by the Beastie Boys that I started to take notice of Hip Hop again, they were very popular at the time and “Intergalactic” was getting regular rotation, however one afternoon after school, I sat down to take off my filthy popcorn smelling school socks, and saw this:

The Roots ft Erykah Badu- You Got Me

There was something about this song and video that made me sit up and take notice, these guys had something different about them, from the other Hip Hop I had listened to in the past, an intelligence and an honesty that sat well with the person I was growing up to be. Within a few days I had their CD “Things Fall apart” and found out that they were actually a band, rather than the usual MC/DJ combination that had was common throughout Hip Hop. I dug out their older albums Do You Want More?!!!??! and Illadelph Halflife, and also their live album “The Roots Come Alive” and began to listen to them whenever I could, finding a deep appreciation for the fact that there were a group of skilled instrumentalists (lead by the now legendary Questlove) crafting the beats, and consistantly being blown away by the skillful wordplay and deeply poetic lyricism of Tariq Trotter (Black Thought) The Roots mainstay MC (and in my opinion the best MC ever).

This also lead me to finding other incredible Artists like: Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, Jurassic 5, and reintroducing me to A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul, who I had missed on the first time around.

To be honest my opinion of Hip Hop in the last few years is very much love/hate, it can be difficult to own up to being a hip hop fan at times, especially with the amount of horrendous horseshit spewing forth claiming to be Hip Hop music. I’m not surprised I sometimes get sideways glances when I refer to myself as a fan of the Genre. I always feel I need to be ready with a disclaimer: “Nah, not what you’re thinking I mean, good Hip Hop, ever heard of Chali 2na? P.O.S? Brother Ali? dudes like that! guys with skill”

But alas by then its too late, in their head I’m at home, fashioning some Grills for myself out of my grandmothers bracelets, badly photoshopping myself into a Photo with Master P and throwing on the latest Big Bear CD:

Big Bear really took an interesting direction with this cover, he was lucky to find such a pimpalicious group of Blunt smoking Silk Robe-wearing Grizzlie Bears, but you gotta hand it to him. He made it and now hes living the dream.


12 thoughts on “Hip Hop and me

  1. This brings back memories of Paul and I on a roadtrop to Rotorua, both sitting in the backseat because of a front seat row neither if us had won, trying to synchronise Can You Kick It on our matching black Sony Walkman’s. I’ve got to hand it to my brother for delivering an early appreciation of excellent hip hop to my undeveloped palate, he once made me record ‘Hey, How Ya Doin’ as our family voicemail message, I was 5.

    Thanks for another great blog SeigeFace, El Biffo x

  2. When you say kids “from the wrong side of the tracks” are you referring to the miniature railroad opposite the retirement village on Whangaparaoa Rd?

    Great stuff here though as always, I wish I could look back on my childhood music taste with pride. It’s shameful and I’m not going to mention some of the albums I owned. Let’s just say I’ve come a long way, baby.

  3. Wow Case! I just read this blog out loud in my staff workroom to a bunch of English teachers and we all went from crying with hysterics to silently reminiscing to offering up our own nineties favourites. Excellent blog. Next please! 🙂

  4. Its the early nineties…Stanmore Bay New Zealand…..

    Much drinking had taken place, at a location that remains lost in the mists of time. The moon was out, the air was warm, and the four young souls standing knee-deep in the incoming waves were feeling good.
    As Tom looked on, the eldest brother Mabon backed up as best his white genes could whilst JForce laid down a phat beat, enabling Case to spit fire straight from the gut. For an age they serenaded The Coast with rhythmical tales spun effortlessly, their lyrical prowess surpassed only by their inebriation.

    It was a Good Day.

  5. Great read! i like to think I have a vast taste of music and styles.. Hip Hop/Rap (difference between them is another debate) is definitely one of them. My first taste was actually Kris Kross “Jump” in 92! I also remember being at Rose and Crown when i was 18-20ish and requested for around 5 weeks straight ‘In da club” by 50 cent and every time Dj Russ would look at me and go, “never heard of it…” well when he finally did it played 10 times a night..

    Love me some Ludacris, Jay Z, Kanye, Kid Cudi, Common, B.O.B, Lupe, Nappy Roots and many more.. (probably the horseshit you refer too!). Gotta get more ROOTS by the sound of it!

    Thanks for the read!

  6. No mention of Pharside, Souls of Mischief, Public Enemy, Ice Cube not even Cypress Hill talk about missing! do you really like Hip Hop that much? I’m afraid you dropped the ball on this one Case. By the way Nirvana still sound great Foo’s are shit!
    Harsh but fair I think.

    1. Fair Call Smithington
      Theres a hundred other acts I could have touched on, but the ones mentioned are the ones that I really find myself liking best and returning to again and again.
      Cypress Hill and Pharcyde both released some great songs but they were in amongst a lot of Shite in my opinion.
      Its very rare we see eye to eye on Music (except for Harry Belafonte obviously) I’m surprised you are so taken aback by this 😉

      1. Love a man who can take a bit of stick and rise to the occasion! Also loved the little
        reminisce on our early youth I remember seeing the Beastie Boys video for Sure Shot
        in 94 and being completely blown away thinking wow they’re like Supergroove only
        WAAAY better.
        Also remember getting a Hornets Cap and thinking yup that’s it, life is going to be
        much better from now on…….And actually I think it was for a while.

      2. My Dad made my brother and I a basketball backboard and painted the Hornets (for me) and Bulls (for my older brother) logos on them. Then we got matching mini-basketballs. I would estimate we spent a million boy hours enjoying them way too much. Bless you Dad, bless you.

  7. I remember the days in the old school yard pal:
    Here is a classic anecdote:
    1993 was the year my love for Hip Hop grew as a third form at Rosmini college and within my arsenal of Tapes (remmber high speed dubbing….) were the following in no particular order:
    Roots, Souls of Mischief, A Tribe Called Quest, Brand Nubians, Pharcyde and Pete Rock and CL Smooth. I would sit on my hour 10 bus ride home before their were motorways from Gangsters Paradise (Red Beach) to Takapuna, listening to my sony walkman enjoying the then underground Hip Hop movement. Other mates would casually ask for a listen and make comments like “What are you a gangster?” or “Is that Ice T?” ……. These comments only hurt for the ignorance that they put these icons of Hip Hop in the league of some commercial “shock” Hip Hop…..
    Fast Forward to 2001 and 2 of my mates that once mocked the track Electric Relaxation by A Tribe Called Quest are now playing the CD in their cars on repeat and singing word for word…… So I ask the question is Hip Hop trendy???

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