Interview: Third3ye — GVRDEN GANG — Do You See What I See?

Feature, Interview, Music

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The Chiefs had just won the Super14 the day Third3ye rappers Melowdownz and Angelo King travelled to Hamilton to shoot their first video ‘Third3ye’ with producer and independent video-director, Tony Douglas. Standing in front of a dairy busking Angelo remembers, ‘The bro [Melodownz] was going up with his hat asking for cash bro, and they were chucking coins at him’. To which Melodownz adds, ‘Bro, we got like nugs in the hat and some ciggys’. In the interview with whendidyoufallinlovewithhiphop we leave the sound check of their Natural Mystics gig in Wellington and head to the wharf, it’s guy fawkes night and the notoriously dodgy Wellington weather is perfectly sunny.  The city’s bubbling with energy. Third3ye, Raiza Biza, Jordan Cherrington (JC Films), DJ Pleez and I sit on the wharf in a circle. We talk about growing up with a higher consciousness and how people living on this level, now as adults, connect with each other from foreign places because they understand the ‘vibrations’ and it’s comfortable. GVRDEN Gang beat-producer, Ben Jamin’ says, ‘I think we’re just like certain human beings who are aware of the world more-so and don’t have to conform to a 9-5 and we are creative people who are about living life first and foremost.’

Angelo: One of Melodownz’s lines that he spits on this track we did called Medicine is like ‘music is sound  — and sound is a vibe, vibration is life, salvation is why we... and it’s like vibration is life and if you break it down to the physics level, to what Albert Einstein was looking at and things like that, it’s things that move, anything that has movement and has a vibrational pattern is alive. We’re talking about the energy that’s creating that vibration and how it permeates through everything. You know in our abstract way and it’s like you can listen to the music and take whatever you want out of it, it’s a skeleton for what ever you want to believe in”.

Bronson is crazy-clever and charming, but his rhymes are even better. Angelo wears John Lennon-style sun glasses and spits a truth that originates in his good heart. DJ Toru explains that when he needs to meditate he just needs to be in nature, “I’ll go sit on a hill — that’s one thing I’ve figured out about me is if I’m on a hill and by a tree, that’s the best meditative state I could be in. Straight up, you need to try that shit”.  Angelo and Melodownz say Third3ye was born from a kinda like Redman, Method Man situation where it was like:  ‘Yo, you blaze? A genuine type thing where it just happened’.

So then I asked what a GVRDEN GANG run country be like:

Angelo: A Utopian Civilization. 

MeloDownz: Yoooo! A Euphoria.

DJ Toru: Okay, make it interesting, what five laws would you implement in your country… And you have to rank them.

Angelo: Though shall not kill. Rule number one.

DJ Toru[ Looks off into the sky] That’s rule number one.

Raiza Biza: Nah, nah, but you got to implement laws that are not already laws.

Melodownz: Aw, give the indigenous, like if you look at the scale, our indigenous people, even in America and everywhere, the indigenous ones that are from the land are like incarcerated or…

Me: Nah, but you know what you do bro? You take away the value of money, and cast and indigenous, what you look like and where you’re from don’t matter no more.

Melodownz: Exactly, like, yeah.

Me:  You take away all our monetary resources, you force people to farm, fish and build and grow vegetables and what not and then you make people trade again.

Melodownz: Do you know what? You’re GVRDEN yo.

“It’s that organic, indigenous, Hip Hop infused music that is dear to all of our hearts , you know because it’s a part of us in some way” — Angelo

Meeting Young Gifted and Broke crew Third3ye was an ethereal/buzzy experience in itself — music aside. The boys are all connected on a higher level of consciousness that considers utopian societies, a track which tells a good story about LSD, giving indigenous cultures back their mana and many other things like this; all recorded onto Ben Jamin’s’ beats which hit a J Dilla-esque on beat off beat pattern. After less than a year together as Third3ye, the gang are snowballing a following of listeners and believers to their GVRDEN. As their logo turns the Illuminati symbol upside down, Melowdownz explains, it’s so the human race prevails on top of the evil that often dictates individual’s circumstances in this world.

Get the full audio here:

Interview: Munashe — “I Don’t Actually Watch TV Aye”

Feature, Interview, Music

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“The media always tries to make Africa sound like it’s the most horrible place on earth, but that’s not the truth at all. Africa’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to but there is also a negative aspect, there’s heaven and there’s hell in the same place. These two realms are located in Africa.” This is Munashe. 17 years old. Born in Gweru, Zimbabwe. Raised in New Zealand since 2003. Hip Hop started for him when his nanny in Zimbabwe would play ‘R&B and Hip Hop 24/7’ says the rapper who also states he’s an artist and emcee. Also in the AmmoNation collective his début release, 1st Impression has his team beaming with pride, as it should. And though it has been released as a ‘mixtape’ all the beats and lyrics are made by Munashe. Every sound on the tape was recorded by an instrument played by him. It really is impressive. There’s a genuine integrity in Munashe as a person — not just an artist that comes out in his music. During the interview, I’m in awe of his consciousness, he is a nice surprise as he says, ‘Realness, hip hop, that’s what the culture’s all about’. 

AmmoNation creator Raiza Biza says, ‘Munashe has been sending me music for about two years and the first thing I admired was his determination. That can’t be taught. I knew he would be a great artist, but what I was more sure of was that he wouldn’t quit. Truth is, I knew for years that I would ask him to join the team, it was just a case of timing. And now that I look at all he’s achieved once joining Ammo, I know I was right.”

Speaking to whenndidyoufallinlovewithhiphop, we talk about religion, Africa, Munashe’s definition of a lady. Rep FM named him artist of the week and earlier in the year Thandi Ntshinga interviewed Munashe for the blog. In that interview he said he wants to be global by 21. At the time it seemed like a bold statement. But with 1st Impression now released, it is clear the kid has the goods to back it up.

Get 1st Impression HERE:

Interview: Blaze The Emperor — AmmoNation’s The Team

Feature, Interview, Music
Joe Blaze

Blaze The Emperor —AmmoNation Artist

Blaze The Emperor, who’s birthday falls on new year’s eve, is a 23-year-old African rapper from Hamilton. A part of the AmmoNation collective up and coming from the 07, Blaze explains that after meeting Raiza Biza post leaving his Auckland crew, Beneath The Hype, he was recruited to AmmoNation and has been recording music under their umbrella since. Still on its way to the masses, AmmoNation are releasing a mixtape this summer. With Raiza Biza putting down foundations for his team, it’s an effort not lost on Blaze who says he is still emerging in terms of his artist voice. One of the few tracks he does have out, titled Green Land Livin, is reminiscent of a Lupe Fiasco or Kendrick flow. Having been in New Zealand since 1998, the hook goes, “I just wanna smoke with my peeps man, and live my life on this green land, I think we could all just agree man”. Recently performing with David Dallas on the Hamilton leg of his Falling Into Place tour, Blaze explains on Green Land Livin, though choosing music for a career is a slow grind, alongside his team — that have voices consisting of talents  Jane Deezy, Munashe and Raiza with producers Haan-808 & Crime Heat Beats, the future’s looking good for Blaze and his music.

Blaze will be dropping an EP this summer, there’s also a track called ‘Vibrant’ with a video out next week, performing at the Hype Da Mic event at Studio in Auckland Friday Nov 1st with Derty Sesh, The Doqument, Raiza Biza, Cruize Klokstad aka Ice Man, MASO Gang Music, 805 Music, EMG and more. Also look out for the AmmonNation mixtape coming out this summer.

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HH: Where are you from? 

B: I was born in Rwanda, Central Africa, spent about five years there travelling around Africa and stuff with my mums…Not sure if you heard about the Rwandan genocide that happened there, so yeah that’s the reason why we left then we journeyed to New Zealand, came to Wellington, did my thing in Auckland for awhile, then moved to Hamilton; I’ve been here ever since.

HH: And you’re with AmmoNation right? 

B: Yeah, definitely, AmmoNation is the team and the collective that I fall under along with Raiza Biza, Munashe — a pretty talented young dude man, Jane Deezy, Haan-808, and of course Crime Heat Beats. [When Blaze joined AmmoNation] I was with my rap group called Beneath The Hype and Raiza Biza was just around.  He really liked the music, our group went different ways, I started rapping solo then he was like, ‘Yo, word, I’m making a collective with a bunch of guys and so, yeah, I basically jumped in there and I’ve been writing ever since’.

HH: Is the commonality of AmmoNation that you’re all from other countries? 

B: As in foreign? [Laughs] Yeah actually our producer, Crime Heat Beats is a Kiwi…But yeah, we are quite diverse in culture and stuff. But we still consider ourselves Kiwis. I definitely reflect on the motherland and what not. Definitely on that track Green Land Livin I’m specifically talking about coming from the motherland to New Zealand and just doing my thing over here, wanting to chill with my people on this green land and stuff so I do touch on being a Kiwi coming from Africa.

 “I’m my biggest critic so I’m always criticizing my own music.”

HH: Do you consider yourself a rapper or an artist?

B: First and foremost I consider myself an artist, I don’t really like to call myself a rapper per say — cause I just like to create vibes and feelings — moments, instead of focussing on making a rap record or anything like that.

HH: So being an artist from Rwanda living in New Zealand, does that give you a different standpoint to other artists here? 

B: I mean I haven’t quite embraced it in the full extent but I am definitely going to start approaching that later on when I start doing an EP where I have to construct stories and make a body of work. For now I’m just making feel good moments and stuff like that, you know, but I’ll definitely touch on that later.

HH: Where would you say you’re at in your artist career right now? 

B: I can’t even say that I’m popping off or anything like that. I’m just starting off really. I have only got a couple tracks that are available for download and I’ve kept it that way. I have got about 20 songs that I’ve got written and recorded just sitting on Crime Heat’s computer but it’s about just finding the right songs to release. I’m really picky with stuff like that. I definitely have a direction that I want to take my music and career path but it basically comes down to that fact that I’m such a perfectionist when it comes to… like I really think about how other people will embrace the music and that kind of has held me back for a bit, but I’m starting to get over that — I’m my biggest critic so I’m always criticizing my own music.

HH: What track do you have out that you are most proud of at the moment? 

B: I would have to say Ambience, the most recent track that I’ve dropped featuring Raiza Biza is actually my favourite song. I was going to do a second verse but then the bro came in and he heard it and was like, ‘Yo man, let me hop on the second verse, that shit’s gonna be epic’, so yeah, I mean that’ll be my favourite track thus far. The track that a lot of people really like is my first song I ever made independently which is Beats, Rhymes x Papers and I always perform that at big shows, start off with that and a lot of people like that — it’s kind of like mixed signals because they’re two type of different tracks.

 “I love listening to ignorant music, the most ignorant shit — but I also love to make like boom-bappy tracks so I’m just trying to fuse that.”

HH: Is that just you representing the moment you’re in, the mixed signals, or is that you finding your way as an artist?

B: It’s a bit of both ae. I’m still finding what I like to listen to and then like to make, record and listen back to — it’s two different things. So I’m still trying to find out what direction to go, I don’t want to be the guy that makes the music that everyone’s off, you know what I mean. I’m trying to stay ahead of the game and stay true to myself at the same time. I haven’t really found that balance yet so I’m trying to find a real mellow balance between ignorant music — I love listening to ignorant music, the most ignorant shit — but I also love to make like boom-bappy tracks so I’m just trying to fuse that at the moment and take that somewhere.

HH: When did you fall in love with hip hop? 

B: When I first heard Biggie is when I fell in love with hip hop — Juicy.

OuttakesHH: Okay if you could have a dinner party with five guests who would you have? 

B: Wiz, I’d get Curren$y over there — definitely have a smoker’s section, I’d get French Montana, Nelson Mandela because he’s a revolutionary guy you know and I’d get the president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame [laughs] — interesting dinner party.

HH: What’s your death row meal?

B: Oh man, steak. Just steak by itself, I love meat. Medium rare.

HH: If you had to take one song to a deserted island what would it be? 

B: Max B — Goon Music. You gotta know Max B he’s a pioneer of the wave.

HH: What would you explore first the ocean or space? 

B: Space. ASAP.

HH: What’s the best advice your mum’s ever given you? 

B: Don’t count your chickens before they hatch, I always remember that one.

HH: What’s your most common reoccurring dream? 

B: Running and going nowhere. Yeah I’m like running from something but I never seem to be going anywhere, it’s weird…it’s weird.

HH: Evolution or religion? 

B: Evolution.

HH: Halle Berry or Hallelujah? 

B: Halle Berry all day, I’m sorry.

HH: Favourite gangsta movie? 

B: Training Day.

HH: Okay. Bong, pipe, bucky, spots or vaporiser? 

B: You missed out papers, I definitely go for raw papers.

HH: And what’s your hood like? 

B: My hood. It’s pretty chill. We gotta lot of pretty cool people out here, it can get real rough if you take the wrong left but otherwise it’s pretty chill.

Interview: Munashe — “Global by 21”

Feature, Interview, Music

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Auckland rapper/producer Munashe is new to the NZ music scene. ‘It hasn’t even been a year but I think I’ve made a fair amount of progress’, he says. 
The 17-year-old, originally from Zimbabwe, has such a passion for what he’s doing; school has taken a backseat to recording music and doing shows. Having been noticed by Raiza Biza and subsequently adopted into the AmmoNation collective, Munashe says, it feels good to rep a team and be kept in check, quality wise. Seeing him perform live at the Back To Basics gig in Wellington, hosted by YP Productions and Ill Magik, it’s clear this kid is not one to underestimate or sleep on. Whendidyoufallinlovewithhiphop caught up with him before the show to talk about what keeps him motivated, his upcoming mixtape and how he plans to be a global name by 21.  

HH: When did you start making beats?

M: I started making beats when I was 10 on FL Studio. My older cousin hooked me up with it and that’s when I started.

HH: You produce a lot of your own music…

M: Yeah, most of it.

HH: How do you feel about collaborating with other artists, be it production or features? Do you like to do that or are you more confident doing things by yourself? 

M: That’s a tough question because at the same time, I’ve collaborated and worked with other people but I also like crafting my own music. So, it really depends.

HH: With crafting your own music, do you feel like it’s beneficial because you have complete control of your vision within your own reach?

M: Yeah exactly. I mean, if you want something right you’ve gotta do it yourself.

“I was getting into an argument with my cousin. I was trying to tell him that Lil Wayne was the best rapper ever, then he played me some Nas.”  

HH: So, you’re performing at Back To Basics, to basically a new crowd. What kind of stuff do you have in store to introduce yourself to everybody?

M: I’m gonna do a lot of unreleased stuff from my mixtape that I’ve been working on, so yeah, I’m really stoked to perform those because I’ve never done it before.

HH: When’s your mixtape coming out?

M: The end of October.

HH: How much do you still have to do?

M: It’s almost done. I’ve got stuff written but I just need to record because I’ve got school, it’s noisy, the people I live with, so I can’t really record all the time.

HH: What’s it like juggling school and music? Because I find that some of us don’t really find a clear balance but rather choose one to focus on the most and neglect the other.

M: (laughs) Yeah , I’ve sort of done that.

HH: Has that had any affect on your parents? Because they’re supportive, but when they see your grades going down, how do they take that?

M: I got into a little something with them last week because one of my teachers said something in one of my classes. So yeah, they’re not too happy about that.

HH: At times people are quite stunned when there are young musicians doing really well. What do you think about people putting somewhat of a label on young artists like “only 16” or “only 17”? 

M:  I think being young is sort of an advantage because, when people look at you, they see potential. When people see someone older, they’ve kind of reached their prime. But when they’re young you see the potential and there’s hope.

HH: Raiza Biza has also taken notice and got you into AmmoNation. How does it feel being part of a collective?

M: It’s pretty cool being part of a collective because you have a team to rep. It’s not just your name on the line, but you’ve got a collective behind you which makes you stay up to par with the other members of your team.

HH: Some aspiring musicians, and anyone for that matter, tend to have a slump in their motivation. What goals do you set for yourself, or what rule do you live by to continue making music without wanting to say “Uh, yeah I quit”? 

M: I always write down what I want to do. Everyday when I wake up in the morning, I write something like  “Make a beat. Record.” Because I feel more motivated when something’s on paper. I don’t know why, it’s just a mental thing.

HH: When did you know that Hip Hop was something you wanted to do as a career, all day, everyday?

M: The first time I heard Nas. Yeah, that’s when I knew. I was getting into an argument with my cousin. I was trying to tell him that Lil Wayne was the best rapper ever, then he played me some Nas. I was like, eleven or something, and I just fell in love from then on.

HH: What long-term goals do you have for your career? 

M: I plan to be global by 21, so that’s what I’m working towards.

HH: What’s it like having the support of your family, because sometimes, especially coming from an African background where parents want you to do a set criteria of things like being a doctor or accountant…

M: Or a lawyer…

HH: Yeah, exactly! What does it feel like to know you’ve got parents who actually support something really artsy?

M: I wouldn’t say my parents support me, and if they do, they’ve only started recently. Back in the day they didn’t really want anything about music.

HH: I suppose as you progress they’ll start to see that it’s something worth doing.

M: Yeah, definitely with time.

HH: When did you fall in love with Hip Hop?

M: I don’t really know, I can’t put a date on it. It’s just always been something I’ve been into from when I was a little kid. My sister used to just put on MTV, Juice and I’d just listen to what’s playing all day, but it’s always been a part of my life.