The Blog is back just in time to see out what has been a fucking beautiful 10 years of Kiwi music – We thought to ourselves what better way is there to celebrate than to get our head honcho, Mr Wednesday Night, Redwood’s finest – Liam K. Swiggs – To reflect back on some of New Zealand’s most influential Hip Hop music releases over the past decade!
Good Evening Aotearoa!
Please, I ask you to make yourself feel at home, grab a cool Lion Red from the fridge, slap on some cans, chop up a hearty mull and sit back and enjoy this collection of handpicked New Zealand Hip Hop goodness from the last decade…
But first, let me tell you cunts a little back story about my journey with New Zealand Hip Hop which actually starts 25 years ago…
If you didn’t know by now my name is Liam Kevin Swiggs – I’m the proud and not so humble son of Local Christchurch suburbs such as Belfast, Papanui and most currently Redwood – Known among my peers as a simple man; I like nothing more than sinking a bit of cold piss, watching some sports, and listening to music with my friends & whānau.
My love for all music, but particularly New Zealand Hip Hop, can be traced all the way back to my formative years as a child in the 1990’s thanks to one of the unsung heroes of New Zealand music; My father Neil Swiggs.
I recall him playing such Kiwi Classics like “No Flint, No Flame” by Zane Lowe’s Urban Disturbance in the lounge at our family home in Belfast on Factory Road as I used to thrash my parents pot dealer at Goldeneye on Nintendo 64; forcing him to leave in frustration – I’m sure they were placing wagers of spots and smokes on me, Dad did always know how to back a winner!
Fast-forward a decade to the mid-2000’s where I was 10 years old and really starting to become interested in my dad’s favourite passion & seemingly worst obsession – apart from bourbon & cola – That was learning about, listening to and collecting music.
I remember very fondly when we got our first family computer set up in the middle of the lounge to prevent a cheeky wank, and so it could reach the phone jack for the internet of course – At the time Dad and I were really into the likes of Tribe Called Quest & De La Soul along with Kiwi vibes like King Kapisi & Fast Crew. I was just getting old enough that he let me listen to Cypress Hill & Public Enemy when mum wasn’t around… The first song I ever downloaded was 911 was a joke by Public Enemy off Limewire; It was a surreal feeling, it really was! Like we only had to sit there for an hour and there it was in all its 3 minutes of digital glory – Free!
Dad didn’t really seem to give a fuck when I told him, I dunno if it’s because he was really hungover or he was freaking out at what was to be the format we consumed our music and media through for the next decade…
It was then where I started my Digital Music Library – I was obsessed particularly with New Zealand Music & Hip Hop – Ripping CD’s we’d hire out from the library or borrow off my dad’s friends, downloading songs of Limewire a drip at a time through our 56K dial-up modem – Leaving it on overnight just to cop 8 tracks…
Now we move forward about five years later on the turn of the decade In 2011 – The year of the Christchurch Earthquakes; I had just graduated from The School of Hard Knocks AKA Papanui High School at age 17 – The Warriors lost the grand final and there was literally fuck all going on in our city of Ōtautahi apart from an influx of drug addiction, depression and broken ass buildings.
Not much had changed – my collection was getting so big I had to start knicking USB’s til I finally got a 100gb external hard drive – But now there were no more record stores left and we were so poor that we still had fucking dial-up Internet…
So when I wasn’t going around to my friends with USB sticks I’d stolen from School to download lists of music I had written down from TV, magazines and the like I spent my time playing Madden and rinsing out to the same old playlist that was on loop at RDU AKA Christchurch Student Radio that was hosted by no one due to the studio being destroyed…
It was during this time I began hearing RDU playing the likes of Homebrew’s “Alcoholic” & Team Dynamite’s “Pe-Knuckle” from up out of the Northern Territories along with local Mahi by such legends as J Dubs & Aereyz – I started to pick up that fact our country had already entered the platinum era of New Zealand Hip Hop, different from what I had grown up with I needed to find out everything I could about it.
Seventeen years old – I bought a laptop and a broadband connection with one of my first paychecks I got from working this shitty underpaid job in the storeroom at a local factory and began my obsessive journey into the world of New Zealand Hip Hop.
I began researching, networking, supporting, downloading and archiving everything I could get my hands on to do with NZ Hip Hop from any source possible; Our cherished family copy of Raiza Biza’s Dream Something LP sent down from Hamilton, Upper Hutt Posse’s best of for $40 at JB HiFi in Auckland CBD, Homebrews Last Week EP from the realms of Bandcamp, Every beat Jay Knight ever sent me straight out of Tawa that he probably deleted off his Soundcloud two days later….
My digital collection & archiving of Music – In particular New Zealand Hip Hop – Is my pride and joy. It’s also a serious part of my lives work preserving beats and songs long forgotten possibly never to be heard again.
It was from here that I was inspired to start writing about the gigs I was attending and all the latest releases in New Zealand Hip Hop – I did this on a little blog I created called “The Big Fresh Collective” – Named after The EP by formidable NZ Hip Hop Duo JBrown & The Mic Smith.
When I finally got ID @ 19 years of age – I went to my first gig @ The Dux Live – MC Aereyz on the bill was the drawcard – It was The RDU Hopstepper gig, a craft beer affair – Famously in iconic 19-year-old Swiggs fashion; I threw up on the mezzanine floor into a pint glass because I’d never drunk craft beer before right after Aereyz set and they didn’t even kick me out! The journey had begun.
Next was Homebrew @ The CPIT Lunch Room Building – Things were pretty quiet for a couple of years then we had a huge influx of NZ Hip Hop artists regularly touring down south with the likes of Third3ye, Team Dynamite & Raiza Biza showing face multiple times a year which was big for our city. I use to count how many gigs I went too, but after that, it’s pretty much been a brown fizzy haze and now suddenly; I’m sitting here six years later in a porta com in my mum’s backyard typing this out on the dole.
I would just show up to any gig that had a mention of New Zealand Hip Hop locally in Christchurch with a blunt in my pocket and a half-cut smile on my face. The revolution was in full swing back then and The Platinum Era of the early 2010s of New Zealand Hip Hop was alive and breathing; It was dominated by a new generation of young people on next to zero budget, people who we found completely relatable and accessible, influenced by the same music as us, coming from the same suburbs we grew up in & most importantly going through and rapping about the same everyday shit we all have to put up with just like you and me.
It was organic.
Very quickly I got to meet a lot of my heroes in the scene particularly of The Young Gifted & Broke Crew who really treated me like one of their own and made me a part of the scene that I was in love with. These are people that I am privileged to be able to call fucking good friends to this day. They helped shape me as a young man, setting me on my sail on my own musical journey and making me into a better person overall.
I owe my life to New Zealand Hip Hop and all the people I have met because of it throughout the years – I think a lot of people do.
Thanks for listening to my story, now here’s your reward!
From my collection of New Zealand Hip Hop I have amassed over the past ten years I have put together an article containing 40 of the most influential New Zealand Hip Hop Releases of the past decade in no particular order – Whether you’ve never heard it before or it brings back fond memories of times past I really hope you enjoy it – On ya cunts!
Jono Das – Illustrations (2015)
One of the absolute hidden treasures of the last decade of NZ Hip Hop is Jono Das’ Illustrations EP featuring a stunning collection of tracks with features by the likes of Raiza Biza, Third3ye & eo, Yayńe & Rizván when they were all on the come ups – A truely beautiful release by the bro Jono Das.
Third3ye – Anja EP (2013)
Chilled, effortless and thought-provoking – Lifechanging EP from Third3ye brothers.
This one helped me and a lot of my homies get through some shit man.
Raiza Biza – Dream Something LP (2012)
Dream Something is one of the most important albums of the past decade in New Zealand Hip Hop – It marks the turning point of Raiza’s career where he began to gain some serious momentum with the likes of his single “Pyramids” being broadcast on Student Radio & In student flats all over Aoeteroa – It’s also such a solid start collection of tracks that can be enjoyed start to finish all Summertime long.
The Big Fresh Collection Vol #001 (2017)
Loaded with lost and forgotten tunes from Friends & Family of The Big Fresh Collective – FootMahi Flavours, New Zealand Hip Hop, Jazzy Instrumentals; It’s the works! Including; JBrown and the Mic Smith, Angelo King & MELODOWNZ, Jay Knight Feat RaizaBiza & LMC, Rattraps, HaussMane (AKA Andy Mushman), Demp (The Samaori), Buster, I.W.I (AKA Sebastian Mclean ), Cool-Simmy Streetcredit Pakihi AKA Simeon & More
The Caffeinated Collective – Blue Mountain EP (2018)
The Caff Collective has been the South Island hip hop crew to look out for as of late with their raw local stylings influenced by the likes of 90’s rap and living in the beautiful shit hole that is Christchurch City – Been jamming their Blue Mountain EP ever since it came out on Bandcamp.
Angelo King & Jono Das – The Lion & The Lotus EP (2014)
Together Angelo King & Jono Das present one of the most potent duos in New Zealand Hip Hop – I don’t think there’s a single song by these guys that I don’t love. The Lion & The Lotus EP is no different and is gold from start to finish.
‘The Lion & The Lotus’ is a project that bears witness to the creative exploration the collaboration between Angelo King and Jono Das has inspired.
The project has been described as psychedelic jazz rap; Angelo King weaves a web of intricately serpentine lyricism, fusing expansive subject matter that considers spiritually-conscious determinism with acute reflections of socialised constructions. Jono Das’ beat-driven soundscapes smoothly propel tastefully crafted jazz-influenced drum samples with crisp, euphonious production.”
Avantdale Bowling Club (2019)
There are two things that are consistence in New Zealand – The All Blacks & Tom Scott’s pure genius and ability to time after time to be involved in producing masterpieces.
Hxrman – UPTO (2019)
New Plymouth’s finest and one of the most slept-on rappers in New Zealand – Hxrman came through as per usual with UPTO this year including the infamous “UPTO GG” – The work rate of this man is fucking incredible go check his back catalogue now.
Team Dynamite – Shepards Delight (2014)
The jewel in the crown of Team Dynamite’s back catalog – Shepards Delight was the first full-length release by the brothers out of Auckland City and is one of the most revered New Zealand Hip Hop Albums of the decade, easily.
Average Rap Band – Stream of nonsensness (2015)
Another groundbreaking masterpiece in the Young, Gifted & Broke back catalog…
“From the derelict coffee shop wasteland of Smith Street, Melbourne come two dyslexic track pant enthusiasts with nothing else going for them but a talent to make pointless words rhyme in succession and a knack for petty theft.
After their former critically acclaimed, award losing group @peace imploded upon itself due to a collective mental break down caused by a lack of government funding in the psychiatric sector, leading to a series of severe psychotic episodes, Lui and Tom were left alone with nothing but a dream and $12.70 in their Paypal account.
In a feeble attempt to regain their sanity they created The Average Rap Band. With utter naivety and a total lack of understanding of the current popular musical climate they decided the main focus of the group would be the lyrics. An obsolete medium that was made redundant in the late 1990s.
Working with bearded enigma Dandruff Dicky and poltergeist expert Hone St John they created a 6 track EP entitled ‘Stream Of Nonsenseness’. which was made with a $42 budget.”
Riz-Kid – Too Little Too Late (2010)
“Too Little Too Late” ~ Riz-Kid’s debut & stand-alone release which came out back in daze of October of 2010. A collection of 14 tracks of dirty Rizzy Rhymes, the bro seriously brings the rawest flow in all of C-City, which he actually owns and renamed “Fucking GrymeWork’s City” bitch. With Riz’s unique style and flow ( Prescription Infliction with occasional decryption), along with Grymeworks staple producer Nettsmoney on the beats, Too Little Too Late is a bit of a fucking lost gem in the ruins of Christchurch.
Team Dynamite – Demo Tape (2010)
The OG – The Holy Grail – The Team Dynamite Demo Tape
Ben Jamin’ – Seasons (2013)
You might remember the homie Ben Jamin’ thru YGB & Third3ye – This Seasons beat tape by Ben is up there with the lushest kiwi instrumental jams out there – We’ll claim it as Kiwi like the pavlova – Old mate is from Australia after all!
Raiza Biza – Winter Solace (2013)
You know when it’s too cold to drink beer and all of a sudden bourbon tastes that much better all of a sudden – Winter Solace that rugged up beside the fireplace with a box of Cody’s type of album – One of my all-time favorites from Biza.
J Brown & The Mic Smith – Big Fresh EP (2010)
This is the EP’s that helped shape our music production and The Big Fresh Collective as you know it – JBrown’s & The Mic Smith’s Big Fresh EP is one of my all-time favourites ❤
For those of you who don’t know; JBrown The Godfather of The Big Fresh Collective is one of the smoothest motherfuckers to ever grace God’s Green Earth – The Mic Smith is always coming through with some of the smoothest flows in NZ Hip Hop that take you back to a simpler time say like 2009 or some shit.
Max Marx and Friedrich Calloway at Carnegie Hall (2010)
Probably one of the biggest secrets from the last decade of New Zealand Hip Hop – It’s the album you get rewarded with personally by Tom Scott if you finish the New Zealand Hip Hop game 100% in hard – Or maybe you were just really obsessed with YGB and knew how to use Bandcamp in 2012…
You gotta check this one out – Some of my personal favourite Mahi from Tom Scott
Melodownz – Beginners Luck (2014)
One of my all-time favorites; Meldownz debut solo project – The “Beginners Luck” EP.
“Beginners Luck LP is a reflective piece of music. Melodownz narrates raw stories from his neighborhood, higher consciousness, Lucid dreaming, positive vibes and his never-ending search for the portal to the next dimension.
The concept behind Beginners Luck LP is that everybody starts off being a beginner.
Just like how a baby learns to walk, he/she will fall down many times before taking steady steps.
Without ego, if one humbly opens the mind and allows themselves’ to make mistakes,
They will learn and they will grow.”
KOLAB – STANDARDS (2013)
Godfather of The Big Fresh Collective JBrown & Tom Speakeasy bring you another gem from the NZ Hip Hop archives with their album Standards that dropped back in 2013 – A super cool jazzy summertime vibes a must-have for the festive season playlist.
Piatao – Apollo Or Die On Ices (2016)
The sophomore solo album Apollo Or Die On Ices from Piatao marks his first full-length adventure beyond Supervillans RMC – Another certified kiwi classic from the past decade.
The Grow Room – Exhibition III – Compilation (2016)
The Grow Room’s Exhibition III compilation really encapsulates the platinum era of the second-generation or the younger brothers, if you will, of the Auckland/North Island New Zealand Hip Hop scene.
Featuring the likes of; Exhibition III is one of the most solid collections of New Zealand Hip Hop of all time
SuperVillains RMC – SVRMC (2013)
SuperVillians RMC reminds me of like The U20 All Blacks or some shit man a star-studded crew who were all about to go onto big things; The homies Eden & Manu AKA ENO x DIRTY, Piatao & Fred Bishop AKA Fred Bish!
“Powered by an explosive blend of classic hip-hop & criminally insane theatrics, SuperVillians RMC are a covert collective of cloaked craftsmen who have been taking the New Zealand music scene hostage since 2011.
A hip-hop collective with a taste for the bizarre and a tendency to become dangerously unhinged onstage, SuperVillians RMC are unlike anything the scene has ever experienced before.”
Dust & Dirt EP – Free Minds (2015)
Featuring two of AKL city’s dopest in Producer Dusty Melody & MC Faz – Dust & Dirt is a gem amongst The Grow Room’s Back Catalog!
“Dust & Dirt is the second musical offering released under The Grow Room, introducing the pairing of MC Faz (Badcrop) and Hip-Hop producer Dusty Melody as ‘Free Minds’. This E.P embodies Dusty’s signature laidback yet rhythmically-precise Hip-Hop beats with the complex, multi-layered lyrical content and stuttering flow of Faz.”
Dust & Dirt is a different branch from the same tree.
ENO X DIRTY – Evil Adventures & Happy Endings (2017)
The duo’s penultimate album cementing their arrival on the scene – Evil Adventures & Happy Endings is a total NZ Hip Hop Summer vibe you have to catch if you been sleepin’ on these boys!
NO PROBLEMOS – Something Real (2014)
Hailing from the Kapiti Coast, just outside of Wellington city The No Problemos is one of New Zealand’s most underrated crews – A rather larger group of talented individuals – The No Problemos like to refer to themselves as more of an “open collective where anyone can come and throw their two cents in.”
Something Real is an iconic piece in the story of Modern Wellington Hip Hop history and a must-have for everyone’s collections.
Tommy Ill – Fearless Bueller (2013)
If it isn’t everyone’s favourite white rapper from Wellington to mention that they knew but now hate him – Fearless Bueller is one of Tommy Ill’s finest works comprised of bootlegged beats and heartbreaking lyrics – I hope you’re okay out there Tommy wherever you are – Me and Ben Duff are your biggest fans still – I don’t know if that’s really saying much
Jay Dubs & Hudge – S A T O R I (2015)
The middle of the decade saw Local Christchurch Legend Jay Dubs alongside with DJ Hudge drop his first full length since Keynotes – S A T O R I
Everyone knows that I’m Jay Dub’s biggest fan his mahi changed my life and inspired me into DJing & Production – This album is a total jewel in the crown of Christchurch Hip Hop over the past decade.
Fortunes. – Jackets EP (2016)
I wrote about this release by Fortunes earlier this year in my first article in 5 years – One of my all-time favorite New Zealand Hip Hop / RNB releases of all time; Incredible production, amazing voices, heart-gripping simple lyrical content – Extremely underrated deserved a fucking VMA award or some shit – Fucking good cunts.
LSJ & Shriza – Jive Days (2016)
Another wicked staple in The Grow Room’s catalog is Lightskinjohn & Brandn Shiraz’s debut LP – Jive Days.
This LP reflects the complimentary personalities of this dynamic creative pair, manifested in a project filled with fresh humour, multifaceted narratives and cohesion of vision shared between two souls. Centered around a concept invested in the anticipation of nostalgia in a distant future whilst being mindful of the joys to be cherished in the present, this album laces itself with sentiment while playing off these underlying values with a playful and modest energy. LSJ’s well-executed selection of moods works effectively in combination with Brandn Shiraz’s witty rap sensibilities to form a sincere and tasteful body of work.
Ash Broke – Broken’ Dreams (2016)
Wellington-based Ash Broke showed he’s got more than just the goods with his debut full-length release “Broken’ Dreams” a few years back – Big love to the One Roof Homies ❤
Jay Knight – 1/9/94 (2014)
Timaru’s finest has been out of his jurisdiction since 1994
Rizván – Gemini (2012)
This the one man.
Rizván is the fucking man.
This is a must for all my Gemini’s and my Tongan’s ❤
Scalper – Flesh & Bones (2010)
Hailing from the UK; I first came across Scalper one night when I was drunk watching him being interviewed on Nightline on TV3 when I was 16 years old – I digged his dark mysterious vibes so much I went out and grabbed a copy of this straight away.
You can actually find it scattered through sales bins in record stores all around New Zealand still to this day.
Louie Knuxx – Dieing Slow (2013)
Dieing Slow is an iconic album from one of New Zealand Hip Hop’s favorite son’s – Louie Knuxx – right before he returned to our shores of Aoteroa via Melbourne to perform for the first time in over half a decade in 2013 which really marked his return to the NZ Hip Hop Scene.
A collection of eight pretty dark & gritty tracks that we use to bump in the V8 Commy cruising around Belfast to make us feel like hard cunts on the piss.
Average Rap Band – El Sol (2016)
The last piece in The Average Rap Band saga for the decade cooked up over the ditch in Melbourne – El Sol took the country by storm with the crew switching up the mood completely again this time with silky smooth lofi vibes that have yet to be rivaled to this day in NZ!
“Created from 42 degree days in the hell fire of Collingwood, the debut album from the world’s most Average Rap Band; El Sol.
Rebelling against the duo’s former magnum opus ‘@Peace and The Plutonian Noise Symphony’ comes an anti avant guarde peace of work that walks the fine line between yoko and YOLO. Produced with instruments older than the musicians playing them and recorded strictly to tape it is perhaps the greatest album of 1983 in 2016.
If you want to relive the nostalgia of an era that never existed get your tickets to one of the New Zealand shows below and be prepared to dance your little feet into early onset arthritis.” – Under The Radar
ImaGé – ILLASTRATE (2011)
BIG AKL City vibes from the homie ImaGé!
“NZ native rapper, ImaGé, stands out in the young, underground Auckland hip hop scene as having natural talent with lyrics and a flow that makes you remember why rap was so great back in the day.
ImaGé has selected beats from a pool of young and hungry producers that make your head nod, rather than starting a rave.”
Third3ye – On3ness (2014)
The debut album from The brothers Third – On3ness encapsulates the rawness of Third3yes first two EP’s whilst delivering a polished 15 track full-length product that catapulted them to the spotlight of New Zealand Hip Hop at the time and saw them tour the country multiple times.
On3ness to us is a concept that describes the circle of infinite connections, binding all things. Our expression of this philosophy is what you will hear right here – the best way we can through musical vibrations.
Coco Solid – Pacific Rims Mixtape (2011)
My all-time fave Female MC Coco Solid dropped The Pacific Rim’s Mixtape back in 2011 when we were just finishing high school and it got a thrashing over the Summer holidays as I tried to begin my career as a professional madden player.
“Pacific Rims is a twelve-track release featuring previously unreleased material and new tracks by long time Coco Solid collaborators from Czech Republic, Portugal, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, the UK and New Zealand.”
Jay Roacher – Kareoke Suicide Club (2014)
Ōtautahi local & previously Japan-based Jay Roacher laid down some freaky shit on Kareoke Suicide Club in 2014 – A staple in the local scene with this album being a staple in the garage at Richill Street.
@Peace – @Peace
@Peace’s self-titled debut release will forever go down as arguably the greatest New Zealand Hip Hop release of all-time inspiring a generation of young artists around Aotearoa and beyond.
It appears they’ve actually pulled this one off the cloud as well so slide through into my dm’z and I’ll see what I can do for ya.
INF – Mary Jordan EP (2013)
Always got big love for the SWIDIT homies – INF’s Mary Jordan EP is definitely one of my all-time fave NZ Hip Hop drops and as far as I know, isn’t available online anymore. So you know what you gotta do if you wanna hear it!
Spycc – Self Progression
Spycc’s “Self Progression” Mixtape: Holding Down Onehunga in WildStyle. If you know – you know – This one’s not online anymore – If you wanna hear this one you gunna have to slide into my DMz!
Article Written By Liam K. Swiggs,
Curator of The Big Fresh Collective