22 May 2023

NZ Hip Hop Stand Up | Season 3 | Episode 1: Double J & Twice the T 'She's a Mod [Mod Rap]'

From NZ Hip Hop Stand Up, 6:00 am on 22 May 2023

In 1989, Double J & Twice The T brought the hip-hop genre to the mainstream with their hit 'She's A Mod [Mod Rap]' featuring Ray Columbus.

In late-80s Aotearoa, hip-hop was still largely unknown to the general public, and the success of 'She's a Mod [Mod Rap]' helped open up a lane for future New Zealand hip-hop artists to follow.

This episode covers Double J & Twice The T's origins in Ōtāhuhu and how they entered the music scene. We also hear about the disconnect between Double J & Twice The T's personal musical preferences and the commercial style they were channelled into. 

Jerry Tala-Brown of Double J & Twice the T discovered his passion for hip-hop at a high school assembly when he performed a rap about substance abuse.

In the audience was Jeremy Toomata, who was himself becoming known for his beatboxing. The two soon connected and eventually became one of the first groups to bring Aotearoa hip-hop to prominence with their 1989 hit 'She's a Mod [Mod Rap]'.

Jerry and Jeremy first made waves in the local music scene as JJ and The Jammers, winning several local rap competitions and a Telethon competition where Ray Columbus was a judge.

At the same time, Mike Chunn and Tim Finn, former members of New Zealand pop pioneers Split Enz, were establishing their own record label - Definitive Records.

Chunn recalls Finn saying to him, "Find some artists, let's just make records", so the idea he landed on was to remake the Ray Columbus and The Invaders 1965 hit 'She's a Mod' as a pop-rap song.

When Chunn spoke to him about it, Columbus recommended Tala-Brown and Toomata to Chunn, though Toomata admits that they "honestly didn't really know who that [Columbus] was."

When it was released 'She's a Mod [Mod Rap]' became an instant hit and reached number two on the New Zealand music charts.

While they may have been dismissed as 'bubblegum' or 'commercial', Double J & Twice the T played a crucial role in paving the way for Aotearoa hip hop, bringing it to a wider audience.

They even influenced one of New Zealand's most successful hip-hop stars, Scribe.

The young Christchurch emcee recalls that being brought on stage during Double J & Twice the T's school tour was a "very pivotal moment for young Scribble."

About the artists

Double J & Twice the T

Double J & Twice the T was a New Zealand hip-hop group known for their 1989 hit 'She's a Mod [Mod Rap]', which brought New Zealand hip-hop to the forefront. The group's members Jerry Tala-Brown and Jeremy Toomata grew up in Auckland and first made waves in the local music scene as JJ and The Jammers. The success of 'She's a Mod/Mod Rap'  brought hip-hop to the forefront of the New Zealand music scene. The group released three top-ten singles before breaking up in 1991.

Jerry Tala-Brown

Jerry Tala-Brown is a former member of the New Zealand hip-hop group Double J & Twice the T. He discovered his passion for rap in a classroom when tasked with delivering a talk on any subject, opting to rhyme his entire presentation and quickly being recognised for his talent. He was the group's primary vocalist.

Jeremy Toomata

Jeremy Toomata is a former member of the New Zealand hip-hip group Double J & Twice the T. Growing up in Ōtāhuhu, he was a fan of groups like Run DMC and The Fat Boys. As the group's primary beatboxer, Mike Chunn described him as a 'master'. Later on in his career, he was a member of two other rap groups, Radio Backstab & DJ Payback, and Overdose.

 Made with the support of NZ On Air Photo: NZ On Air