Hip-Hop is a language, and it has a voice internationally. But how much do you know about what it sounds like when that influence is assimilated into an international listener’s culture?
Being from New Zealand myself, I have a spiritual and cultural affiliation for an Australasian sub-genre called Urban Pasifika, which is influenced by jazz hip-hop and r’nb’, but includes elements of reggae, modern soul, and funk.
Urban Pasifika, like most American soul and R’n’B, draws on gospel and hymnal influences as part of the artists upbringing and culture. It’s most noticeable with the use of harmony and melody, but not necessarily subject matter.
Che Ness, aka Che Fu, was a leading pioneer of this in New Zealand from the mid 90’s, fronting a funk / hip-hop group called Supergroove, to the beginning of a solo career in the 1998. His sound and feel draws on his Polynesian heritage, and is generally composed and performed, with light sample use. A stylistic reference point would be early Aloe Blacc or Dwele, with lyrical content and flow like INI, or Ohmega Watts. With his warm vocal tone, he writes socially conscious and culturally relevant lyrics which are intelligent, and often uplifting in vibe, but unafraid to speak about urban reality. Che contributed a song ‘Waka’ to the soundtrack of the 1999 movie ‘What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted’, which was a gritty, disturbing social commentary and insight to the life of urban Maori people.
Che Fu’s song ‘Misty Frequencies’ was released in 2002, and with a slight re-touch in overall production, could be fresh today. Che continues to release new songs, with guest vocals on the 2014 release ‘Coconut and Lime’ by NZ hip-hop crew, Team Dynamite. He also appeared in the accompanying video clip, playing a wise Kung-Fu master. His contribution to music in general was recognised in 2014 with a Lifetime Achievement award from the Pacific Music Awards.
Che Fu – Misty Frequencies