Welcome to weekly series The Singles Life, where known experts Katie Parker and Hussein Moses peruse, ponder and pontificate on the latest and (maybe) greatest in New Zealand music.
Haven’t heard of SWIDT? We can barely contain our pity. With their new album out tomorrow and a ton of buzz brewing for the guys Aaradhna called “the future of hip hop”, there has never been a better time to get acquainted. Katie and Hussein are here to help speed things up.
What is a SWIDT?
Katie: Oh you poor fool. SWIDT are an Auckland hip hop collective comprised of six (6) guys.
Ok then, who are SWIDT?
Hussein: Without further ado: SPYCC, INF, SmokeyGotBeatz, JAMAL, AZA and Boomer-Tha-God. Together they make the type of rap music that will make you want to pull up from half-court like Steph Curry. For the uninitiated, SWIDT stands for See What I Did There. Oh, and their new album is out tomorrow. It’s called STONEYHUNGA.
Hit play on this real quick:
Why should I have already heard of them?
Katie: Because they’re making the best and most exciting new music coming out of New Zealand right now. And I mean that out of all the music not just out of hip-hop music.
With their last effort, SmokeyGotBeatz Presents SWIDT vs Everybody, released last year SWIDT proved they’ve got energy, charisma and vision and I can’t think of anyone doing that shit better. As we talked about here, their live act is insanely good and thankfully they’re getting the attention they deserve.
They’re also probably the best publicity Onehunga’s ever had.
Onehunga, you say? [redacted Dress-Smart joke]
Hussein: Onehunga to the maximum. The suburb isn’t just part of their story, it basically informs everything they do. Their songs are - for the most part - centred around growing up in the community before it was drowning in gentrification. Remember back when a two-stage bus ride used to cost $1.40? Or before you got priced out of the area you once called home?
“We want to paint a picture of what it was like growing up in the neighbourhood during our time, the late 90s, early 2000s,” SPYCC told Sam Wicks. “That's the beauty of what we're doing right now—we're trying to bring those memories to life and bring people into our story.”
While we've got you here, watch this:
Why am I seeing so many Hawaiian shirts?
Katie: As well as being a snazzy look and a fashion classic, Hawaiian shirts are a staple of SWIDT’s iconography.
As SPYCC explained to Red Bull Studios, “It's about the style and the colours. Where we are from has similar vibes to California. It's colourful and vibrant. Palm trees, etc. Our energy is colourful. Our personalities are colourful, and we come from Polynesian and Pacific Island backgrounds, which ties into the Hawaiian shirt thing”.
It’s a strong aesthetic and another sign that SWIDT are ahead of the curve: as GQ reported today, Hawaiian shirts are so-hot-right-now.
Wait, is this who Aaradhna gave her music award away to?
Katie: Correct. You might recall that, when Aaradhna received the award for Best Urban/Hip-Hop Artist, she turned it down citing the reductive and whitewashed nature of an all-purpose award for anything considered outside of the white mainstream.
"If I were to accept this as an artist, it wouldn't be fair because I am a singer, not a rapper.” she told the crowd. "I feel like I've been placed in a category of brown people."
Instead, in a move that set many a titter, she chose to give the award to fellow nominees SWIDT, telling them that “I believe that you guys are the future of hip-hop, if you guys keep going. I want to give this to you guys.”
You will of course know that, miraculously, Aaradhna was heard and the urban category has been scrapped and replaced with two new awards: ‘Best Hip Hop Artist’ and ‘Best Soul/RnB Artist’, the former of which has SWIDT’s name written all over it.
And now they’re in the running for this year’s Silver Scroll?
Hussein: Yes! You’ll find them in the top 20 for ‘Little Did She Know’ alongside other acclaimed artists such as Lorde and ... Lorde (she got nominated twice, for reasons unknown). You might notice that SWIDT are also the only hip-hop act in that longlist. For the record, there hasn’t been a single rap song in the Silver Scrolls top five since Scribe took out the award for ‘Not Many’ way back in 2004. Make of that what you will.
Ok, you’ve twisted my arm. I shall go to ye olde record shop and purchase myself a copy of the album. What can I expect?
Hussein: They’re five singles deep already, so study up while you’ve still got time. SWIDT have spent the last few months rolling out a series of back-to-back songs and videos from the record to tell their story the way they want to tell it. Like Onehunga, the music industry is changing around them faster than you can imagine; they seem determined to not let that get in the way of their success.
Also, LOOK AT THIS PERFECT ALBUM COVER.
If that’s not enough to go off, then consider yourself a lost cause.
Is there anything else I should know?
Katie: I wrote a poem!
S - uper!
W - ow!
I - love it!
D - on’t stop the music!
T - op notch!