FEAR OF A SLACK PLANET ~ first published in SWERVE Magazine, September 1994

a Public Enemy interview/story, first published in SWERVE Magazine, September 1994…

It was quite a shock meeting Public Enemy in person two years ago.  Flavor Flav was bouncing off the walls, bug-eyed, and making no sense at all.  I thought at the time that he was definitely on something but PE was so vehemently anti-drugs I dismissed that idea.  He was probably jet-lagged and besides, everyone knew Flav’s personality was ‘out there’.

In November of last year William Drayton a.k.a. Flavor Flav was arrested for firing a round in the general direction of his neighbour, who he thought was screwing his girlfriend.  The charges were eventually dropped, but not before Flav had checked himself into the Betty Ford Clinic.  While his partner in rhyme Chuck D could state proudly that he was drug free, Flav had become hooked on the pipe.  Crack cocaine, the scourge of the black community, had claimed the Clown Prince of Hip Hop. Shit, he’s a grown man, older than me.  How can I tell another man what do to?
The reaction was immediate: PE were busted, exposed as hypocrites, suckas who played themselves.  All their talk about fighting the power - that drugs were a white weapon to oppress the black race - wasn’t enough to stop one of their own looking for the dopeman.  This idea amazes Chuck D.  ‘To me it was a simple thing’, he told The Source magazine. ‘Everybody makes mistakes.  I asked Flav: Yo, are we still family or what?  You still down?  If you are then let’s work this out’  If Chuck D was willing to stand by his man, Flav was willing to confront his addiction.  He emerged from the Betty Ford Clinic drug-free and immediately joined the rest of PE to complete their fifth album in eight years: Muse Sick-N-Hour Mess Age.

The response from the music press has been mixed, the predominant opinion being that PE are out of step with the modern rap.  That their sound and message hasn’t changed or progressed beyond their earlier works.  Their last album Apocolypse 91: Fear of a Black Planet, was released early 1991.  Chuck D gave me a hint as to why there has been such a delay in releasing new material when I interviewed him in Auckland prior to PE’s live concert with Ice T.  He told me then that he was impressed with Ice T’s business savvy, how Ice had managed to hang on to every dollar that was due him, and that despite the worldwide acclaim and profile that PE enjoyed they were not a rich band.  Reminding me of the history of naive black artists who over the decades been cheated out of their money through their naivety, Chuck D seemed almost embarrassed to have fallen into the same trap.  He admitted that their compilation remix album Greatest Misses was a stop-gap while he took time out to re-organise the Public Enemy organisation.  The organisation was much larger than the band, and concerned with raising black consciousness and ensuring that the black community got the message.  Certain people had been thrown out of this organisation and some contracts with major companies still had to be renegotiated.

It seems bizzarre to me that critics should now be dissing PE for not having anything new to say.  Chuck D is not a gangsta, so why should he rap about driving thru the hood strapped and looking to smoke some bitches? What pissed him off most was that these people ‘were brothers’.    While many new rap acts are smoking blunts and promoting its use in their music and videos Chuck D sees it as the thin edge of the wedge.  ‘40’s and blunts are gateway drugs to bigger highs, confusion, and destruction’ explains Chuck D, describing the message behind Give It Up, their first single off the album.  ‘[We have to] question what we put in our bodies without thinking.  Some of us treat our cars better than ourselves’.
Chuck D comes down hard on those that betray their own community.  He refers to Niggatrons, people who’ve been programmed by White America to sell drugs and shoot eachother.  Acknowledging that most black urban youth would rather be down with Snoop Dogg than Arrested Development, Chuck D says ‘we can’t blame the youth.  They must be made to follow order, and if adult Black people don’t make order, we can’t expect our young to respect guidelines we can’t make.’ 

A laudible sentiment however Chuck D’s method of bringing about order may shock those unfamiliar with Louis Farrakhan’s interpretation of the Muslim faith.  Believe it or not, Chuck D’s solution to those that perpetrate Black on Black violence is the final solution.  In Death of a Carjacka Chuck D rhymes about having his car wired to blow when someone tries to steal it.  ‘In Africa people lose their heads and hands for taking something that’s not theirs’ says Chuck D, a follower of the Muslim faith.
Carjacking, dopedealing, drive by shootings; they’re all facets of the Black on Black violence that PE maintain is something stage managed by racist White America to destroy the Black community.  For Chuck D the proof is clear: ‘Black people still don’t have control over our economic, educational, and law enforcement situations.  Though we often call ourselves a ‘community’ without control what you actually have is a plantation’.

The slave metaphors come thick and fast, with a whole song (Hitler Day) dedicated to the stupidity of celebrating the discovery of America on Columbus Day.  Columbus did not discover America, it was already inhabited by Native Americans, and led to the slave trade   ‘People have to realise how we - Blacks, Native Americans, and others of colour - feel [about slavery]’ says Chuck D ‘whites have to understand how they are responsible for wounds that have yet to be healed’.

If the message gets to heavy to handle then there’s always Flavour Flav.  In What Kind of Power We Got? he rocks with the anthem refrain ‘What kind of Power we got? Soul Power!’.  It’s a rap you know is going to huge live.  While there are some strong lyrics hidden in the verses, the chorus’ make it Flav’s answer for all the kids who wanna be down with O.P.P.  In I Aint Madd At All Flav jams with a live horn section and a girlie chorus in a 70s style soul swing.  It’s a rap with two meanings: is he saying he’s not upset about being arrested ‘Who put the cuffs on Flava/Why you gonna do that?’ or is he warning us he’s not the madman he seems. ‘First there was Superfly/But Flavor’s got more style/And you can’t tell cos you’re cracking up’

Flavor Flav is certainly not the jester he portrays on stage.  He can play any instrument he cares to pick up, and has been described as the only member of the group who could go into a studio and make a whole record himself.  Clearly it’s a side he prefers not to show.  Once, when spotted in a hotel lobby playing a medley of classical music, Flav immediately began banging away on the keys like a chimpanzee in a PG Tipps commercial.  It has been suggested that this frustrated genius was the root of his drug problem.  ‘Everybody got individual lives’ says Flav.

As a fan I hope he manages to stay clean.  When PE first broke out in 1986 with My Uzi Weighs A Ton they captured the hearts and minds of Black youth all across America.  That message got appropriated by NWA who dispensed with looking at the reasons behind the violence and just stuck with telling us that life ‘aint nothing but bitches and money’.  With such negative imagery it’s no wonder Gangsta rap has proven itself to be a self fulfilling prophecy.  While it may seem hypocritical for PE to preach their messages whilst one of their own members was abusing drugs, at least they’re not glamourising the lifestyle.  After all these years they continue to speak out for their own people, hoping they might see the changes they themselves need to make.  As Chuck D himself says in the sleeve notes: ‘Some people will foolishly look to this album for solutions then criticize the lack of them, when they know damn well a positive rap record can only add balance to the chaotic side of rap.’

PE just want you to know what’s up.  They can diagnose the ailment and offer the medicine, but it’s up to you to take it down.  ‘Nuff said.


NB: This word file was recovered from 1994 via Text Recover, and came out slightly jumbled, meaning I had it to put it back together from memory. Some bits I couldn’t fathom so I left them out. An example:
Yet Chuck D eses reality th.  ‘W.  ‘Tall for one and one for allto ,piano  told ‘you can stand for something [no drugs] you can stand for something [Drugs Are Bad but that don’t mean it won’t happen in your life.  Some things are just beyond your control.  Drugs are more powerful than the average man.  I wanna tell people that.  [Drugs] still call me, but I’m like Captain America out there and it’s just bouncing off my sheild’.decay of the Black communtity they continue to speak out that people With such a heavy mantle placed upon them it’s really no wonder one of them cracked. 


YO NICK (originally published March 1995 in Swerve magazine)

YO NICK (originally published March 1995 in Swerve magazine)

Be they serious or inane, Nick D’Angelo answers your queries and responds to your opinions.  If you have a burning question that needs answering - or just want to get something off your chest, write to Yo Nick, PO Box [redacted], Dominion Rd, Auckland 1003.  Keep your letters brief and to the point - we reserves the right to edit for length.

What’s the real reason Fiona McDonald quit the Headless Chickens?
- T Burnett, Pakuranga.
Contrary to their ‘alternative’ image, the Chickens are really just your average Joes.  Some are married, some have children, some have mortgages, ie they’re just like you and me.  Fiona’s decision to leave came about when the rest of the band refused to let her fly to San Diego to be at the bedside of her boyfriend, who had lost part of his finger sailing on Chris Dickson’s Tag Heuer.  The Chickens were due to play Big Day Out that weekend and felt that Fiona’s vocal contribution was essential, so they hid her passport.

Why is urine yellow?
- Curious, Parnell
So you know not to drink it by mistake.

Do you know how I can write to Rene Naufahu?  I think he’s just the spunkiest and went to the Rocky Horror Picture Show twice just to see and hear him perform.  Can you confirm if he has a girlfriend?  My friend says he does but in the Shortland Street mag he was wearing a t-shirt that said ‘Single’.
- ‘Mrs Aleni’, Mt Roskill.
Girlfriend, if you went to see RHPS twice you must be a big fan.  Writing to Rene is easy: first you need a pen and some paper, then you write words on it.  Your friend is right, Ren does have a girlfriend - lots in fact.  The t-shirt is because he’s an old fashioned guy: he only sleeps with them one at a time.

Who’s the biggest bunch of wussies - Boys II Men or All For One?
- Lance Manuel, Te Atatu
A difficult choice Lance, they both make really bad music.  All For One win the prize however because they are a ‘manufactured’ group - a record producer held auditions until he got the right mix of ethnic and vocal styles.  Although they aren’t the first group to be put together this way, I also don’t like them because they dress real bad (as in bad) and look like they go to Church too much.

We the undersigned would like to register our disapproval of Drew Barrymore posing nude for Playboy.  She may think she’s exercising her freedom of sexual expression as a woman, but she’s really just another victim of male sexploitation.
- [Names withheld], Westlake Girls.
I didn’t publish your names because some of them were in the same handwriting so you could be pulling my leg.  Often famous women pose nude in order to stop a magazine publishing unauthorised nude shots - usually taken while pissed at a party, or by an unscrupulous ex-boyfriend.  Whilst here for Big Day Out (her boyfriend is the guitarist in Hole) Drew told me she did them ‘because I felt like it’.

Is Michael Jackson still married to Lisa Marie Presley?  I read they’d split up, then that they hadn’t, then that Lisa’s mother was trying to annul the wedding.  What’s the truth, and how can I write to Michael?  If he’s available I’d like to correspond with a view to marriage.
- J Leach, Auckland 1.
Writing to Michael is easy: first you need a pen and some paper… seriously, if you want to write to Jacko you can fax him c/o MJJ Productions at 001-310-478-7966. To be honest I really haven’t kept up with the Michael Jackson stories.  Last I heard he was thrown out of the Babysitters Club - but that was some time ago.

The job market is so bad I’m considering a life of crime.  Any suggestions?
- Avago, Taupo
My sincere advice is don’t do it, because it’s a fact that you’ll get caught eventually.  If you must do it then my only tip is don’t tell anyone, because whoever you tell will tell someone else… who’ll tell someone else… who’ll tell someone else… etc etc.  And one of those people will dob you in.

Know any good jokes?
- Anon.
Yes, plenty.

I’m absolutely fed up with all the commercials on TV..  It’s absolutely ridiculous.  TVNZ have to chop the shows down so they can fit in moredads!!  I think I’ll
(this is all I could recover via Text Recovery, since my Snow Leopard can’t read files from last century…)

~ Nick D’Angelo


PUMP UP D’ANGELO – originally published October 1995

PUMP UP D’ANGELO – originally published October 1995 in Rip It Up magazine

“It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you - without a strong rhyme to step to”

Ah yes, the immortal words of Rakim… what can I say other than: “It’s good to be back!”  It’s been 18 months to the day since my last column, although the good folk at Rip It Up have been kind enough to tide me over with Mo’ Better Beats.  We can’t really go into the reason’s for my absence, suffice to say there was a court case, I lost, and part of the damages awarded against me was that I cease writing for 18 months.  Enough about me, let’s talk about you.

Hmmmm, that was pretty boring - let’s get back to me. What have I been up to since we last spoke?  Same as always - I’ve been trying to get laid.  Earlier this year I organized a dance party called Cheap Sex.  Subtle I know, but we wanted to be certain people didn’t get confused as to the theme of the party.  Actually I wanted to call it Cheap Sex - Nubile Young Women Only, but the Squid management wouldn’t let me.  So lots of nubile young men turned up as well, thereby preventing me from sidling up to young women and testing the theories espoused in the book I got last Christmas: ‘How To Score with Chicks - Guaranteed Results’.

It’s an interesting tome, but sadly lacking on the pictorial front.  A bit like Michelle Pfeiffer’s latest movie ‘Dangerous Minds’.  She spends most of the movie in jeans and an old shirt - what were the producers thinking?  Where is the shower sequence?  Are they trying to tell us that teachers don’t bathe?  Why doesn’t she seduce one of her hunky young students?  Are they saying that female teachers are just dried up old spinsters who aren’t in touch with their own sexuality?  Better yet, why doesn’t she seduce one of her spunky young female students?  This film is an affront to lesbian schoolteachers everywhere.

Hey! - it’s okay for me speak out on behalf of lesbians because I love pussy as much as they do.  Yes, I know you’ve heard otherwise but the rumors published in the gay newspaper Express are simply untrue.  Okay, so I did come out from the Back Room in the Tool Shed a bit wobbly but it was all a mistake.  Father’s Day was approaching so I went in there to buy him a present.  I thought it was garden shop, but when I asked for a spade they offered me a ‘Harlem Hunks’ video.  Christ, you should’ve seen the guys on the cover: one was hung like a horse, and the other guy had three feet! If you know what I mean.  Then I realized he wasn’t a real man at all [thank god - I was starting to feel inadequate] he was just one of those inflatable dolls.  I could tell because the other guy on the cover was blowing him up.

Being the 100% heterosexual guy I am I realized I was in totally the wrong place and bolted out the door.  Unfortunately it was the wrong door and I found myself in a very dark room.  As my eyes grew accustomed to the dark I realized there were other men in the room - which had more than a few nooks and crannies.  I stumbled about for a bit and as I groped my way back to the exit I grabbed someone by mistake.  He groped me back in a manner which indicated that his eyes were already well accustomed to the dark.

Well, maybe he wasn’t because he dropped to his knees pretty damn quickly, presumably looking for his lost contact lenses.  Well, maybe not.  I think he was blind; his hands were all over me.  Once I relaxed it got quite interesting.  He certainly knew what he was doing and did a better job than those cheap hookers who try to get you out of the room two minutes after you stepped in.  I mean, what’s up with that?  If I pay for the Sultans Feast I want the whole thirty minute extravaganza, not a quick rubdown and a box of Kleenex.  And they always sneer at you as you leave: “were you a premature baby, too?”  You have to wonder if they really like their jobs at all.

Anyway, I realized I was spinning out a bit and needed to get back on track.  I figured I needed sex: a] with a woman, and b] with one who wasn’t charging for it.  My only problem was finding some luscious babes who were hot and horney and ready for anyone.  That shouldn’t be hard, and after that I’ll get a winning lotto ticket.

As fate would have it I stumbled across the perfect opportunity.  Manpower were in town and god knows I’m always horney after a strip show, so I figured that women must be the same.  I puffed up my chest and loitered spunkily as a thousand excited women came flooding out after the first show, their cheeks flushed with excitement, their eyes glazed and ravenous for love.  “Geeday luv, fancee a beet of the ol’ Kookaborra?” I enquired in my best Seedney accent, but they all had buses to catch and I was left alone on the pavement.  Obviously they weren’t that hungry after all.

There was second show that night, and I figured I’d have a better chance of passing my self off as one of the Thunder From Downunder if I was actually inside the venue.  Getting past the bouncers is never hard.  Just don’t look at them and give them lots of attitude.  “Geedday mate, I’m Gazza, frenda Bluey’s - I’m on tha Guest Leeest” was all it took, and I was in.  I bolted upstairs and positioned myself close to the balcony so the women could see me.  It didn’t take long; they were all over me like I was Marcus Lush
“What they hell are you doing here, this is a woman-only show” they purred huskily.  
“It’s okay, I’m weeth the band” I purred back. 
“It’s not a band, it’s a male strip show mate!” 
Sensing the natives were hostile I hid in the toilets until the show started.

Once the show started it was easy to see why the women loved them so.  Seven guys on stage in very little, each with a body that would shame Adonis.  These guys had tans, they were cute, and they could dance to a syncopated beat - everything their men back home were sadly lacking in.  I felt sorry for any man waiting back home thinking they were going to reap the fruits of their wives horney desires…  After two hours with Manpower most women would be returning home mightily pissed of with that tub-of-lard boyfriend of theirs.  Realizing I wasn’t going to get laid that night either, I snuck out early. 

It hadn’t been a total disaster - I was now all fired up to join a gym.  My body would soon be a temple, I too would have buns of steel, and my sexual drought would be over.  That was until I found out the price of Gym memberships.  Cor blimey mate, is this for the gymnasium or the mayor’s re-election fund*?  It took me about two minutes to realize that paying for sex was a damn sight cheaper than making an effort.  Still, I’ll give it (the pursuit of free love) one last go because i] the 95bFM Private Function is on this Thursday night, and ii] I do a show on bFM. 

If that doesn’t get me laid…

~ Nick D’Angelo

(*a reference to Les Mills, who in 1995 was Mayor of Auckland and also owned the city’s biggest Gym)


My Pauly Fuemana Story

On January 31, 2010, Pauly Fuemana, aged 40, died after a short illness, surrounded by his wife, children, and family. He'll be missed by everyone involved in NZ Hip Hop, and remembered for putting us on the world stage. I won't bore you with specific dates and times (it's all true tho' forgive me if my memory fudges a little), but my favourite Pauly Fuemana story goes a liddle sumpin' like this:

It was Wednesday morning about 9.30am (Auckland, NZ). The High Street shops didn't open til 10am and the workers had all disappeared into their offices at 9am; so it was very quiet. Pauly bailed me up in the middle of the street (literally, in the middle of the road) just outside Rakinos. I presume he'd just come from Simon Grigg's office next door (Grigg, if you didn't know, had signed OMC to his independent record label and was largely instrumental in getting 'How Bizarre' to #1 in no less than 13 countries).

OMC were meant to have performed 'How Bizarre' on UK's 'Top Of The Pops' show the previous Saturday but they'd been pulled at the last minute because the single had stalled at #13 and TOTP had a policy of only featuring songs on their way up. All of us involved in NZ's Hip Hop scene had been elated at the news that 'one of our own' was succeeding globally and thrilled that OMC were going to be on TOTP, so when word got round that Pauly had been bumped we were all disappointed.

Which is why I was surprised to see Pauly so happy. He had a smile beaming from ear to ear. A simple 'Whatsup?' from me had Pauly blurting out the whole story:

London had been fantastic and the record company there were fantastic and he had been put up in a fantastic hotel and they had supplied him with a fantastic car (a Bentley?) and a driver on 24 hour call. I think it was the latter that impressed him most because he repeated it: "I had my own car and driver - on 24 hour call - to take me anywhere I wanted to go!". He was clearly buzzing from the full-on Rap Star treatment he'd received and I smiled with him and told him it sounded fucking fantastic. "But that's not all!" he finished, triumphantly.

"We're getting back on the plane TONIGHT to fly back to London to film 'Top Of The Pops' this Saturday!"

"WTF?!" I responded, or its 1996 equivalent.

"Yeah I know man, its amazing - we only just flew in this morning but as soon as we get in we get a message from the record company that they want us back in London! The single is going back up the chart! So we're all getting back on the plane tonight and flying back!"

It was great news, and I later learned from Grigg that the only reason the single had stalled was because they hadn't pressed enough copies in the UK. They had literally sold ALL of them, and it was only when new stock arrived in stores that 'How Bizzare' resumed climbing the chart. Following OMC's TOTP performance the single jumped again and continued all the way to #5. No mean feat for a boy from South Auckland!!!

So that's how I'll remember Pauly - buzzing like a kid who'd just taken his first Thrill Ride at the Easter Show, pumped up on adrenalin, and rushing back to ride that Rollercoaster again. He was livin' large and lovin' it.

Big up's, bro'...