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Rhythm Nation Summer Beats 2005


Te 11 o nga ra o Kohi-tatea / 11 January 2004

‘Rhythm Nation Summer Beats 2005’
Auckland Anniversary Day – Monday, January 31; Okaahu Bay, Auckland
Featuring Katchafire, Adeaze, Aaradhna, Bennett, MC Korza, MC Verasity, Audio Ruffness

A free outdoor concert on Auckland Anniversary Day will feature New Zealand’s best reggae and R’n’B acts alongside the winners of a unique urban music talent search organised by Mai FM 88.6 and Coke.

‘Rhythm Nation Summer Beats’ will be staged for the second year in a row by the top Auckland youth station at Okaahu Bay from midday on Monday, January 31. Mai FM concert co-ordinator Brent Mio says last year’s concert attracted more than 18,000 people with winners from the Coke Rhythm Nation competition performing alongside their musical idols from the local hip hop and R'n'B scene.

This year’s headline acts include Hamilton reggae band Katchafire who recently released their second album, ‘Slow Burning’; R’n’B duo Adeaze and their Dawn Raid stablemate, Aaradhna; and the ‘Power Mixx’ DJs from Mai FM including Peter James and DJ 09. As well as the established artists, four winners from the Rhythm Nation contest organised by Mai FM and Coke will also perform at the concert. They are:
- Bennett (aka Richard Randell), a 22-year-old R’n’B singer from Whangarei whose tune ‘Baby Gone Bye Bye’ earned him a NZ On Air New Artist Recording grant;
- MC Korza (aka Kori Reweti-Niha), a 20-year-old singer, MC and rapper from Whangarei;
- MC Verasity (aka Donna Jean Tairi), a singer, song-writer, beat-maker, dancer and choreographer from Manurewa in South Auckland; and
- Audio Ruffness, a four-strong crew of Ngapuhi men aged 19 to 25 from Whangarei.
The year-long Rhythm Nation competition - with a total of 10 rounds - fostered local talent by giving them the chance to professionally record one of their own, original compositions at Mai Studios. Top engineer/mixer Chris Macro (Dubious Bros, Katchafire) handled all the tracking, mixing and mastering, and also mentored each act in the songwriting and construction process, adding additional beats and arrangements where necessary.
The winning songs were pressed as CD singles and given away by Mai FM street teams in Auckland, Rotorua and Whangarei as well as being distributed to music media and iwi radio stations throughout the country. A compilation CD of the top 10 tracks for 2004 will also be produced for radio, television and print to help the new artists gain more visibility. More details about Rhythm Nation - including the 2003 and 2004 winner biographies and photographs - can be viewed on the websites or

Auckland – named after Hobson's naval commander Lord Auckland – has been celebrating its anniversary in January since 1840 when the Treaty of Waitangi was signed by local Maori chiefs at Karaka Bay, Mangere and Awhitu. The same year, Captain William Hobson, then the Lieutenant Governor of New Zealand, was invited by Ngati Whatua chiefs to establish the new colony's capital in Auckland. A sailing regatta was held to celebrate the occasion, marked by the raising of the union flag, a tradition still observed every year on Auckland Anniversary Day.
Mai FM was launched by Te Runanga o Ngati Whatua in 1992 and has established itself as the country's most successful commercial Maori radio broadcaster. As well as the network of three youth music stations in Auckland, Rotorua and Whangarei, Mai Media Limited is also an umbrella company for record label Mai Music; songwriting copyright administrator Mai Publishing; recording facilities Mai Studios; public relations division Mai Communications; and Maori language radio programme producer Ruia Mai.


Introducing …

Thomas ‘Rage’ Wihongi – Eltion ‘Cap. E’ Wihongi –
Isaac ‘Hype’ Wihongi – Casey ‘Saiyan’ Matene

Audio Ruffness is the 3rd round winner of the 2004 Coke Rhythm Nation. The young Ngapuhi men are the first artists from Whangarei to win the talent search. They scored a professional recording session when their single, ‘Summer Beats’, attracted the most votes from listeners of Auckland station Mai FM 88.6.

“It’s wicked to be heard on the Auckland airwaves,” says 25-year old Thomas. “We’re getting out there – we want to put Whangarei on the hip hop map.”

Thomas, Isaac (21) and Eltion (19) are brothers. They met Casey (25) through work. They say that music comes easily and naturally to them, and they attribute much of their musical prowess to their whanau and kapa haka. “It’s about representing where you live and what you stand for.”

The group say their name reflects the belief that many people have about hip hop. “Most people don’t consider hip hop to be music because it’s too rough sounding,” they say. “Hip hop relates closely to our culture. We can understand where the beats are coming from.”

The boys say they are heavily inspired by other New Zealand acts: “We’re trying to do what Scribe is doing. We want to go on tour and make a career from music.”

Introducing …

Bennett AKA Richard Randell is the 4th round winner of the 2004 Coke Rhythm Nation competition.

The performing arts student from Whangarei has scored a professional recording session after his original composition, ‘Baby Gone Bye Bye,' attracted the most votes from listeners of youth music station, Mai FM 88.6.

The promising 22-year-old says he was ecstatic when he heard his song had won.
“I didn't even know what to say,” says Richard. “All my whanau was in the kitchen when I was on the phone. This gives me my first step – I've been after this for a long time."

Richard, from Ngati Whawhakia, says his interest in music started at church. "They showed me how to use different instruments and taught me to push my voice. Then I broke off and started writing my own stuff, trying to get into the four realms of hip hop. Now I'm trying to get back to my roots … and then I won this!"

Richard is looking forward to recording his single. "Winning this competition means a lot to me. This is for my family, man, I wanna do it for my family.”

Richard is finishing his ‘Skills For 2004’ national certificate and performing arts course, and he says he’d love to pursue a career in music. “Hopefully I'm gonna sell a lot of music, that's really what I want to do!"

Introducing …


MC Verasity AKA Donna-Jean Tairi is the 5th round winner of the 2004 Coke Rhythm Nation.

The 25-year-old mother-of-one from Manurewa in South Auckland scored a professional recording session after her original single, ‘Invasion’, attracted the most votes from listeners of Auckland station Mai FM 88.6.

Fast making a name for herself in the local hip-hop and rap scene, Donna-Jean is a singer, song-writer, beat-maker, dancer and choreographer originally from Rotorua.

She has a Diploma in Music Production and Performance from the polytechnic in Tauranga, and produced ‘Invasion’ and another song, ‘Birth of the Future’, as part of her study assignments. ‘Birth of the Future’ featured on the CD compilation, Gifted & Maori, last year.

Donna-Jean’s performed at concerts and events throughout the Bay of Plenty, gigging with Che Fu and the Krates and Nesian Mystic, and has appeared in music videos with The Dubious Bros and Deceptikonz.

Inspired by other Kiwi and female MCs, she labels her music as “hip-hop meets Maori” and incorporates Maori language in the lyrics.

She calls herself a ‘Fem Cee’ – her lyrics persuade more women to pursue careers in hip-hop and rap in an industry dominated by males.

Introducing …


MC Korza AKA Kori Reweti-Niha is the 8th round winner of the 2004 Coke Rhythm Nation.

The 20-year-old singer, MC and rapper scored himself a professional recording session after his original song, ‘Reminiss,’ attracted the most votes from listeners of Auckland station Mai FM 88.6.

Kori, who hails from Whangarei, credits the birth of his 11-month-old daughter for his win claiming that “she’s the reason why I’m still doing what I’m doing”.

The up-and-coming artist believes his win is a blessing and a positive way of gaining exposure for himself and his lyrics.

His winning tune was originally written for a family member.

“Reminiss talks about my life, what’s happening in my life, where I want to be and what I want to achieve. It’s dedicated to one of my uncles who passed away because of suicide.”

Inspired by the likes of Tupac, Bob Marley and 50 cent, Kori has big plans for the future.

“My main goal, my top priority is to become the number one rap musician in New Zealand!”


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