8 Oct 2016

A place for Base

From RNZ Music, 2:00 pm on 8 October 2016
Base FM musical Director Dylan C

Base FM musical Director Dylan C Photo: Photo Supplied

Base FM have an art exhibition in Auckland called Cover Story, which takes their 80+ DJ's favourite piece of vinyl and tells the story of what it means to them.

Che Fu Chains

Che Fu Chains Photo: supplied

Peter Mac - 'Ring the Alarm' on Base FM, Sat mornings, 10am - midday: DLT featuring Che Fu ‘Chains’

Chains, by DLT featuring Che Fu is the greatest song ever to come out of Ponsonby.

Then there’s Chains Remix (including Mighty Asterix and Ras Daan), with its killer opening lines that burst thru from the pounding drums (DLT tunes always had great drums!)…   

“Well I grew up in Ponsonby, they take the Gluepot now they coming for me, but hell no, I won't go away, Ponsonby, where I live, Ponsonby where I stay… I never asked you to put a cafe in my street…”

That’s some deep history right there. That is connected to what BaseFM is all about, and the changes we live thru. That’s the greatest song ever ABOUT Ponsonby.

Chains emerged in July 1996 and blasted to number one on the singles charts, at a time when there had only ever been one other local hiphop song to achieve that.

And that wicked chorus? Che made that up on the spot. In a 2005 interview with DJ Sir-Vere for Back2Basics magazine, Che revealed how it came about…

"DLT was doing his own album and asked me to do a track. So I turn up at the studio to do this track. As far as I knew I was just going to bust a rhyme on one of his songs. I go in the booth and he says 'You got your chorus ready?' I was like 'Chorus?' I didn't want to look like I didn't know what I was doing, so I said 'I just have to go to the toilet.'

"I go into the toilet and am like 'oh my god, oh my god! He thinks I'm doing a whole track.' So I stand there, in the toilet, and came up with 'Come break my chains come help me out...' I went straight back to the booth and sung it even though I had made it up 30 seconds before!" 

Slum Village

Slum Village Photo: supplied

Manuel Bundy - 'Down & Out' on Base FM, Thur 12-2pm 
Slum Village - It’s Fantastic Vol. 2 (Interscope promo)

Sometime around 1999, I got a call from my good friend DJ Sir-Vere who was working at Beat Merchants at the time.

He said, ‘Bro, I’ve got a record for you. It’s got you written all over it.’ That’s the one thing I miss about record stores that you don’t get when buying tunes online. Having on-to-it cats behind the counter who know their shit and know what their regular customers want and need.

Anyway, I rock up to the store and he shows me this record. But before he hands it to me he plays a track - ’Fall in Love’. Hook, line and sinker. Now, I’d already been aware of the talents of producer Jay Dee aka J Dilla through his work with the Pharcyde, Tribe, De La Soul, and the Ummah production team. But this album was the one I was waiting for. I was hanging out to hear an album that was fully produced by this man. And it’s been in my Top 5 albums of all time ever since. Thank you, Jay Dee.

MIA Paper Planes remixes

MIA Paper Planes remixes Photo: supplied

Nabeel – 'The Basement' on Base FM, Monday nights 8-10pm: Paper Planes: Homeland Security Remixes, M.I.A. XL Recordings, 2008

I’m writing a book about ‘western’ music in the post 9/11 context, and this particular record and cover reminds me of one of the most common experiences for many of us with the ‘wrong’ name, skin colour or clothes. I’m lucky that my job enables me to travel overseas several times a year, often to the US and the UK. But the repeated questions, scans, pat-downs and scrotum gropes are a grind; never mind the usual regime of semi-undressing and removing computers and putting shoes, belt and other belongings in those grubby plastic trays in the security line.

It was probably 2004 when a Homeland Security officer at JFK airport flipped through the pages of my passport. After noticing my birthplace was Karachi, he asked, ‘When was the last time you went to Pakistan?’ ‘In 1997, for my brother’s wedding,’ I replied. ‘Was it a shotgun wedding?’ he guffawed. I tried to grin. ‘Are you Pakistani?’ he asked. ‘I’m a British and New Zealand citizen,’ I said. ‘Are you a Muslim?’ he asked. ‘I’m a British and New Zealand national,’ I reiterated. ‘Do you identify as Pakistani Muslim? Are you a Pakistani?’ His voice was more insistent now. ‘I can put you in the group for secondary screening. Do you identify as Pakistani?’ I was dumbstruck for a few seconds. You like to have a choice about your identity. All I could hear in my head was the beat of Salt ’n’ Pepa’s ‘Push it’ with M.I.A.’s rap ‘Ain’t that you with the Muslims?’ The track ‘Sunshowers’ had recently gone viral on the mixtape Piracy Funds Terrorism Volume 1. The way M.I.A. sang ‘Muslims’ as ‘Muzalimz’ sounded like the Homeland Security officer’s pronunciation. I guess I became a ‘Muslim’ again after 9/11, and it had nothing to do whether I was a believer or not. My experiences with border security folks are mild and innocuous in comparison with other people of colour, immigrants and refugees.

These days I’m impressed more by M.I.A. as graphic artist than recording artist. I love the garish retro emoji style of this cover, which captures the ordinary objects of everyday surveillance and travel. I remain impressed that ‘Paper Planes’, a rap about getting visas written by a refugee, sampling a punk group, and with girl backup singers introducing gunshots, became one of the ubiquitous hits of the new century and life during wartime. The mixes and different MC versions on this EP add their own flavours and twists on the song’s themes. I still have a lot of faith in the power of a catchy tune. It can pack us much weight as a small suitcase.


Home-brew Photo: supplied

Lui Silk (Homebrew Crew) – 'Full Metal Record' show on Base FM, Fri nights 8-10pm Home-brew

If you were to ask me if I would ever hear my voice on vinyl a few years ago, I would have laughed at you.

This has never been played on a record player and probably never will be.

This album represents a lot of opportunities I have been fortunate enough to have been given over the years through music. It represents a lot of hard work by everyone who was involved in making it what it is today.  

It also represents all the close friendships I have made over the years through the music scene. Being able to perform on stages all over New Zealand and besides Danny2Chains (my co-host on Base), is one of the reasons I am a proud member of the Base FM family.  

This stays in a box I keep under my bed in my room and has been there since I got it 4+ years ago.


Madvillan Photo: supplied

Dan Paine - 'Off the Record' on Base FM, Wed nights 6-8pm

Madvillian ‘Madvilliany’

My criteria for picking this LP this was based on three factors;

1.The cover had to be a great piece of art itself 2.The album itself had to be an all-time favourite of mine 3.The actual piece of vinyl had to have a solid story to it.

It was a toss-up between Madvillain’s ‘Madvillainy’ and Happy Mondays’ ‘Pills, Thrills & Bellyaches’ for the win.

I was living in Japan in 2004 when ‘Madvillainy’ was released. In my tiny apartment I had a few records that I took over with me and one of those little Vestax portable turntables to play them on.

With my small collection I picked a semi-regular DJ gig at this bar called Grassroots which was upstairs in this little alleyway. The entrance was signified by a big brick wall with a massive 6-foot high spray-painted weed leaf on it.

Up in the bar there were framed music-themed and musical movie posters; The Blues Brothers, Little Shop of Horrors etc. It was a crazy hodge-podge of style that only the Japanese can pull off. The DJ booth was in a side room and they had smashed a hole in the wall so the crowd could see you playing the records, and in the DJ room the owner had at a guess 2000 records just piled-up and tumbling all over the floor - in their sleeves, out of their sleeves. I had to sweep them aside every time I played so that I wasn’t just standing all over them.

When I first started going to Grassroots it was always quiet but after a while it started to get real busy, I guess partly cos’ there was a sideshow going on - the tall foreign guy playing rap music up nice & loud. I used to play tracks off this ‘Madvillainy’, ‘Jaylib’, Del the Funky Homosapien all the time.

Turned out the bar manager and owners didn’t just have tattoos for decoration and later in my stay in Japan they suddenly weren’t working there anymore - turned out they got busted, surprise surprise, for dealing weed out of the bar. 

Cover story is on display at Studio One Room 10 on Ponsonby road from October 12 to November 5

You can reach Base FM’s givealittle page here.