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40 years of hip hop culture

Friday 29th August 2014

In the early 1980’s, the movie Flashdance came out and aspiring bboys from Aotearoa would sneak into theatres (or pay) over and over, just to catch two minutes of New York based crew Rocksteady breakdancing on the street. Newtown raised dancer, Suga Pop, moved to New York and eventually worked very closely with Michael Jackson; his crew The Electric Boogaloos brought MJ the Moonwalk and his iconic kick via a dance style called popping, so the impact in New Zealand and abroad has been incredible.

In November 2011 Wellington-raised Sen Thong became president of the Aotearoa chapter of the Universal Zulu Nation in Wellington. “The significance of [2014] is that it’s the 40 year anniversary of hip hop culture,” he says. “And by that I mean all the elements coming together, officially, in one unified role.”

30 years ago in Aotearoa, where some people had few positive outlets, hip hop supplied the answer through breakin’, DJing, Emceeing or graffitti. “If you weren’t first 15 material, you ended up joining the gang and then hip hop came along and we did that – it was an alternative to gangs,” says Rhys Bell, New Zealand’s first DMC champion.

Having travelled to the anniversary of the 39th anniversary of the Zulu Nation last year with other Kiwi members, Bell told the founders of the hip hop culture in the Bronx about that impact they’d had on him and his peers in Lower Hutt. “It saved me,” Bell says.

Ladi6 live at the Powerstation.

Photo: Aleyna Martinez

In 2014 New Zealand hip hop has experienced highs and lows; as advertising companies began to understand the power of hip hop’s gritty aesthetic in the early 2000’s. But singer, emcee, director and editor, Teremoana Rapely, originally from Upper Hutt Posse, says “its survival has always been down to its people and so whether commercial radio or commercial television says that hip hop is dead or whatever, it doesn’t mean a thing because we’re still going to be here and we’re still around”.

LISTEN to David Dallas live at The Wireless launch party at Galatos last year:

LISTEN to David Dallas' interview with Megan Whelan:

LISTEN to Sam Wicks' interview with Andy Murnane and Brother D:

Silva MC live at the Powerstation.

Photo: Aleyna Martinez

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