click here for more
Interview: 95bFM's The Original World Famous True School Hip Hop Show

Interview: 95bFM's The Original World Famous True School Hip Hop Show

Interview by Slave / Wednesday 13th February, 2019 3:27PM

Auckland student radio innovators 95bFM are celebrating their 50th anniversary in style this week with 95bFM Gold, an epic birthday bash taking over the Powerstation on Friday night. The event's staggering lineup includes Beastwars, Coco Solid, Miss June and a showcase for the station's The Original World Famous True School Hip Hop Show which kicked off more than 23 years ago, featuring original DJs Philip ‘Sir-Vere’ Bell (O.N.Z.M.), Robin ‘Base’ Paratene and Mark ‘Slave’ Williams along with superstar special guests Mareko, SWIDT, Melodownz, Diggy Dupe, Church & AP, Rei, Lukan Raisey, IMAG€ and Dam Native. In anticipation of the momentous occasion, we're stoked to present an epoch-spanning, two-part conversation between Slave and current hosts Ev Love and GetBan, reflecting on the history of the show, the evolution of hip hop in Aotearoa, where it's going next, and what they're looking forward to in 2019...

GetBan asks Slave:

GetBan: Hey Slave, thanks for taking some time to answer these questions. As I was thinking about how much the hip hop landscape has changed from the time you were hosting – let’s say 94 to 99 – for which I was a small child for most of, one obvious thing is the advancement of the internet and how we actually consume and store our music.

So I guess my question would be, how much fun was lugging crates up those stairs every Thursday and how much of that collection do you still own?

Slave: I guess at the time, there was no other way to do it, so we didn’t think about it too much and just lugged the crates up 3 flights of stairs to the station. I used to joke about my DJ friends getting “DJ back” as an affliction, all hunched over to one side from heavy record bags when we got older. Fortunately that hasn’t come to pass... yet.

I was mostly panelling the desk while the bros DJ’d but I definitely was carrying crates. Base would panel as well. Sir-Vere is a true collector, so he has probably got all the best shit from that era. DLT has definitely got some mad crates of heavy hip hop funk and break beat records. I have 4 good playable crates and the rest are ravaged by parties, theft, and Wednesday nights at Safari Lounge in Ponsonby (RIP).

Out of all the survivors of that era, probably my signed Beastie Boys records are my most coveted!

GetBan: It’s easy for us now to find new artists through social media or blogs, what we’re your trusted sources during your run?

Slave: No social media! Crazy, huh? It was great! I guess between us we had quite a few contacts and sources. Sir-Vere worked at a store called Truetone Records. He’d been ordering all the latest music for a while before we even started the show. He’d get a couple copies of a record, sometimes promos in the mail, then he’d order in what was hot. Orders would come in on a Thursday, and every DJ in town was there to collect. Back in those days all the major record companies had promo vinyl of all sorts of stuff. We would go up and raid the bins for what we liked. No one else was going to play that “rap music” on the radio. We’d read any music magazine we could to find a glimpse of hip hop / rap stories / reviews / articles. The Source magazine was cool when it first came along. In fact there is a cover of The Source from '93 with Bambaataa, Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash, with a headline "Trueschool” on it. I think in NZ at that time, being so far away from the action, we were even more hungry to stay on top of what was going on so we had our eyes and ears peeled. The boys were on it.

GetBan: You were hosting through what many consider a golden era of hip hop - 1995 for example Do You Want More?!!!??! from The Roots, Me Against The World - 2Pac, Mobb Deep’s The Infamous to name a very small amount. Was there ever an album or single you couldn’t wait to play for the first time on True School?

Slave: So many, and it’s been a while so I can’t pin it down to any one. When the Wu Tang first arrived on the scene I remember it being super exciting. As each Wu member dropped their own solo record it was jam after jam for a couple years. I recently listened to a show from 1996. It was like a time machine! A listener calls on air and asks for "that new Mobb Deep shit... G.O.D.!” And Sir-vere goes to check his crate to see if he’s got it. To some now Mobb Deep is considered "old school.” It was brand new! Back then "old school" was a very definite thing, because it was such a young genre. Now ”old school” is all in the eye of the beholder. I mean Outkast is old school to some people. The True School name covers both old and new. We all had our favourite styles and artists that we’d bring to the table so there was always lots to be excited about.

GetBan: I also do think that a big part of our responsibility to our listeners is True School being a place for emerging local artists. Who are some artists you would have helped by putting them on this platform?

Slave: I agree! It is part of the responsibility. We were always pushing local music. You name it from that time ,they would have come to visit at least once. Guys would call in and freestyle down the telephone, and then eventually the serious ones would make it up to the show for a jam. I remember Mareko coming up and smoking it! Also P Money was one of those kids who used to listen, and eventually would turn up to the show, via the bus into the city. He’d come up after doing his casino hotel job. In time he became a True School host / DJ as well, and of course went on to have a huge music career.

Slave asks Ev Love and GetBan:

Slave: You’ve been hosting the show for at least as long as I did, maybe even longer. In your time how has hip hop music evolved?

Ev Love: I think we've been doing it a little over 6 years now? So, I think in that time the biggest change has been in how people consume music in general – the rise of Spotify and the rest of the streaming platforms has had a big impact. I think not having the guaranteed income from album sales forces artists to tour more to survive, so even down here in NZ we've seen a lot more international acts coming through, both new guys and older acts on reunion tours etc. Also, just the sheer amount of music of all different types available at your fingertips now is staggering, and while it's definitely harder to sift through it all and keep up to date on everything it does allow a lot of room for new artists and sub-genres to grow and build a following. I think hip hop as a genre has diversified and matured. 90s style boom-bap, avant garde art rap, UK Grime, murky lo-fi underground Screw music or whatever you're into, it's all being made at a quality level and it's really easy to get your hands on now.

GetBan: Well I think the biggest thing is access, hip hop felt pretty insular when I really got into it, around 1999. I of course had to go back and work my way through classic albums from earlier years but I felt like only a few of us were in on the secret – nowadays it feels like hip hop itself has been widely accepted by other genres as well, didn’t Kanye make a song with Paul McCartney? And of course the sound itself has evolved tremendously.

Slave: Is Soulja Boy a godfather of modern rap like he claims to be?

GetBan: Haha I’m not sure about all that but I will always respect his hustle, dude made millions off the ringtones alone. I think after that latest round of interviews it’s obvious that his style and flow may have influenced a few people no doubt.

Ev Love: Haha! I was never really a Souljah Boy fan, and I hadn't given him any thought for like a decade until I saw that interview, but i thought "fuck, he's kinda got a point." There's a bunch of guys that are popular right now like Lil Pump, Playboi Carti etc where the energy of the track and the performance is more important than the lyrics and content, and I guess he did sort of set a blueprint for that style of rap. Arguably it's pretty basic & formulaic, but it's great party music and there'll always be room for that.

The local scene is arguably the most healthy its ever been. Local rap is probably my favourite rap music of the last 10 years. What makes our music unique and how has it become so prolific?

Ev Love: It's huge right now. So many young artists bubbling away and a really good collaborative culture going on. The guys who came up in the 2000s were the first to have access to decent home recording gear, and the newer artists have grown up seeing that and been able to go from dreaming about making music to making it without some of the hurdles they used to face.

NZ hip hop has always had a Polynesian-influenced soul to it, and Auckland in particular has a really wide range of cultural influences that make the local music unique compared to other international hip hop.

GetBan: I think the fact that when I was coming up we had artists like Home Brew, Decepticonz, R.E.S. and Scribe etc. The current guard had to see that success and realise it wasn’t far out of reach, so now we’re really spoilt with amazing artists wanting to tell their stories just like the emcees and producers before them, places like bFM really respecting the local scene and making sure it gets the air time it deserves. The uniqueness of NZ hip hop is that despite being a little island in the bottom of the Pacific we all have stories to tell, and those are interesting and unique not just to us but to the rest of the world also.

Slave: Who are the artists to be looking out for in the coming year and or who are the top beat makers / producers at the moment?

GetBan: I know Madlib has some projects on the way that I’m absolutely looking forward to, anything that Roc Marciano does will get automatic play. And I’m also looking forward to all the NZ stuff we’re getting. Hopefully a new ENO x Dirty project.

Ev Love: Locally, there's a lot of exciting stuff going on. The best place to start is probably the lineup for this bFM show on Friday night! Church & AP are buzzing right now off 'Ready or Not', and given that these guys are still young as I think there's plenty more to come there. The High Beams guys, Omni Potent, Diggy Dupe, Eno & Dirty, Tom Scott, Jess B, SWIDT, the Grow Room collective - all of these artists have been putting out cool shit over the last year or so and hopefully will keep it rolling into 2019. Production wise - Smokey, Haz Beats, Baccyard, are all killing it.

Internationally? JID is a new face making noise right now, I think he's out here for a festival in a couple of weeks actually? Westside Gunn & Conway are leading a kind of grimy boom bap revival, and their main producer Daringer is coming with some real soulful beats. I think he has a project coming with Roc Marciano that should be amazing. We must be due a new Kendrick or Schoolboy Q album this year after Jay Rock's success in 2018? Freddie Gibbs & Madlib's second full length album. Future's new album is something of a return to form, and I liked both Lil Baby and Kodak Black's last releases. Check out Koder from London, his latest tracks have been fire. Hopefully another NxWxrries project also, Knxwledge's beats are crazy, or at least some more Anderson .Paak music.

95bFM Gold featuring Beastwars, Coco Solid, Miss June and The Original World Famous True School Hip Hop Show w/ Mareko, SWIDT, Melodownz, Diggy Dupe, Church & AP, Rei, Lukan Raisey, IMAG€ and Dam Native is happening on Friday 15th February at Auckland's The Powerstation.


Share this
Subscribe/Follow Us
Don’t miss a thing! Follow us on your favourite platform  

Content copyright 2019 | some rights reserved | report any web problems to here