3 Jun 2018

A Musical Crossroads - Capturing Tha' Feelstyle

From Standing Room Only, 12:30 pm on 3 June 2018
Tha Feelstyle aka Kas Futialo

Tha Feelstyle aka Kas Futialo Photo: Raymond Sagapolutele

An upcoming mini-doco aims to tell the story of Kas Futialo, aka Tha Feelstyle, and the way weaves together traditional Samoan music and Western hip-hop.

Titled The Crossroads: Le Māgafā, the documentary will follow the rapper as he returns to his homeland of Samoa.

Futialo started making music in Wellington in the late 1980s and has been hailed as the first rapper to spit rhymes in Samoan.

He beat out fellow Aotearoa hip-hop pioneers Upper Hutt Posse in the country's first official rap battle in 1987, rapping alongside King Kapisi

In 2004, Futialo celebrated the release of his well-loved album - Break It To Pieces.

The record included the single 'Su'Amalie / Ain't Mad at You', with a NZOA-funded video which tracked his first visit to Samoa in 20 years. 

The movie is being made as part of the Loading Docs challenge, which looks to tell big stories in short films.

The crew behind The Crossroads were selected alongside 10 teams to make their movie.

Loading Docs has provided the teams with some of their production costs, but The Crossroads crew are trying to raise at least $2000 more through crowdfunding on Boosted to take production to Samoa.

Lynn Freeman speaks to The Crossroads director, musician and music video producer Sani Sagala (aka Dei Hamo) and Aaron Taouma, who's producing this film.

Aaron: I've been a big fan of Kas, and Sani for a number of years. They're the way-seekers in Samoan, New Zealand, Aotearoa hip-hop, from the late 80s early 90s. So when Sani came to me and said 'let's make a film about Kas and his life' I was like, 'yeah! let's do it!'.

Lynn: Did you know from the beginning what your focus would be? Because this is a short amount of time to tell a big story.

Sani: We chose to focus on the two worlds ... we wanted to show the link between Samoan music and urban, or hip-hop music, specifically. And how Kas brings those two worlds together. 

Lynn: Is Samoan a natural home for rap? 

Sani: Yes! Because rapping is ... talking fast and it's a very oratory ... and Kas is an orator. So the two kind of mesh together, being an MC or a rapper and also being an orator in the Samoan culture. 

Lynn: And is he also influenced by traditional Samoan music? 

Sani: Absolutely! He's actually working on a new album - I think it's finished? 

Aaron: It's finished, yes. It's coming out soon. 

Sani: Yep, and he's got a lot of Samoan influences in his latest album. 

The team working on The Crossroads will accompany Kas back to Samoa next month for a big concert there. 


Here's Sani Sagala speaking about The Boosted campaign:


And here is Tha Feelstyle as featured on Fresh a few years ago: