I first saw Karoline Tamati perform a show on the evening of May 24, 2003. I know this because on that date, the Blues won the Super 12 for the third and last time, and, having attended the match at Eden Park, I was in a particularly elevated mood. Indeed, I was having a Great Auckland Night Out.
The blog post from the following Monday records it thus:
We wound up at Galatos, which was a bit quiet, but after being at a rugby game with nearly 50,000 people, that was okay. Lady6 performed both with her own group, Verse 2, and later on with Wellington's 50Hz. She sings, she raps, she has a real bearing and presence on the stage, and it's surely only a matter of time before she achieves higher honours. It was a delight to see her, and I thought to myself, still flushed with pride, elation and that strong Trappist beer they serve at Galbraiths: I love Auckland.
Ladi wasn't unknown to me. I'd previously seen her take a revelatory guest turn with Fat Freddy's Drop at the same venue ("Hey, watch this," the guy next me had said, "It's Ladi6. She's pretty special.") and -- like anyone with any taste at all -- I loved 'If I Gave You th' Mic', the single that had launched Sheelahroc, the teenage Christchurch vocal trio that also gave the world the Opensouls' Tyra Hammond. (She and Ladi both call Scribe cousin, and the third member, Sarah Tamaira, is the sister of Freddies singer Dallas Taimaira. Like Sly Stone says, it's a family affair.)
When I put together the first Great Blend, at the Grey Lynn Bowling Club, in October 2004, I took the opportunity to put Ladi in front of a Public Address audience. It was a big afternoon and by the time she and Brent Park (her creative and life partner, "Parks" to all the world) began to play, more than half our crowd had wandered off. But it didn't matter. The late, low sun reached across the bowling greens and into the club, and at one point it was so beautiful that tears welled in my eyes.
We brought Ladi back for another Great Blend – the big one at the Hopetoun Alpha with Ashley Highfield, where she was a bit nervous in opening the show, and took her and Parks down to Wellington for the first capital Great Blend, at the Film Archive. They're good people and it's always a pleasure to see them.
But what I'm really here to tell you is that the new Ladi6 album, The Liberation of … takes her work to a new level. I never really thought the Lyall Bay sound of her debut album was quite right for her, but this one –- recorded in Germany with Euro hip hop producer Sepalot and her regular collaborators Parks and Julien Dyne – is spot on. It's nimble and eclectic, funky and intelligent.
Damian and I interviewed Ladi for Public Address Radio. Here's the video for the new single, 'Bang Bang' (no embed code, sorry). Ladi and the band played a great Red Bull Live Session across the bNet yesterday – the video will be here soon – and the album release show is at the Powerstation tonight.
Maybe I'll see you there. But mostly, if my rep as a (cough) key influencer means anything, you'll consider buying The Liberation of … at Amplifier (CD or download), or iTunes, or even at a record shop. Summer's record has come early.
So yes, it's Friday. Go ahead and recommend, people.