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'...