"Shot to our olds for bringing us into existence, Avondale and Otahuhu for raising us, our girls for loving us even when it’s not dole day, the bros for helping us not kill ourselves on those Sunday mornings and you cunts for buying this bullshit. Fuck the Prime Minister. Fuck the law force. Fuck God. Shot to our dealer. Don’t do drugs.”
The liner notes that accompany Home Brew’s self-titled debut double album reveal just how special this album is. It signals a shift from writing music about having a great time smashing piss and gobbling pingers towards a more politically inclined and earnest performance from the effervescent tight-knit group. Tom tackles these weighty issues lyrically, resulting in Homebrew’s most polished work to date.
The Auckland trio, comprised of Tom Scott (Scotch), Haz Hauvi (Hazbeats), and Lui Gumaka (Silk), have opened their doors to let their supremely talented circle of friends collaborate with them on the album. Christoph El Truento (who produced @peace) weaves his atmospheric spaced-out beats through Haz’s soulful boombap instrumentals, while pumped-up funkier jaunts from Dandruff Dicky, Ben Jamin, and SiRes mingle with brilliant baselines provided by Chip Matthews (of Opensouls royalty).
The first half of the album is known as the “Light Side”, mimicking the come up of a good rail. The second half represents the “Dark Side” — the comedown. Tom and co-conspirators Lui Tuiasau, Lucky Lance, Matt Crawley, Tourettes, Hollie Smith, Tyna Keelan ,and the absolutely outstanding Esther Stephens draw themes from a wide spectrum of everyday life experiences. “Easy Street”, “The Benefit”, and the self-explanatory “Yellow Snot Funk” laugh about partying and its associated woes, while “Basketball Court” and “Radio” reminisce about childhood innocence and confusion.
Home Brew have received a slew of media attention for representing their subculture on a national platform. More often than not, they are portrayed negatively to court controversy or to sell papers (Fuck the Media!). Consequently, they’ve amassed a hugely loyal and deeply respectful fan base across Aotearoa, and from what I keep getting told are becoming vastly popular across the ditch too. Streuth! Home Brew transcend socially disparate cliques. There is something here for everyone, whether hip hop head, hipster, metal head, or mathalete. You’d be hard pressed not to find at least a handful of Brew songs that are painfully relevant to you right now.
However, Home Brew is no grandiose attempt to make the band the top dogs of the rap game. That’s just incidental. Home Brew speak about social realities that affect everyone, and consequently connect with people on a level that is not normally associated with the insidiously “aspirational” celebrity culture that riddles popular music these days. This might be why Home Brew are are so feared by commercial media outlets and the upper class, and why they have been credited with reinvigorating the hip hop scene in Aotearoa.
But can we dub Home Brew “popular” yet? After being shortlisted for the 2010 NZMA Critics’ Choice Award and self-promoting through viral videos and social media, Home Brew made the first rap/hip hop album to reach the #1 top-selling album spot on the official New Zealand music charts since Scribe’s The Crusader in 2003. Now that’s some serious food for thought. They’ve since holidayed for 11 weeks in the NZ Top 40 chart, and last week were #1 again. “Daytura”, the Hayden Dick-produced single from the album featuring Lucky Lance of Team Dynamite and Lui Tuiasau of @peace, has been nominated for an APRA Silver Scroll award. Whether they like it or not, Home Brew have reached the mainstream. In Tom’s typically self-deprecating words, “I’ve always tried so hard to make the industry hate us and now we’re Number 1... I guess I even failed at that.”
After half a decade of releasing sterling EP after sterling EP online for free (check out homebrew.bandcamp.com for some homework), Home Brew have really stepped it up again for one of the most anticipated album releases I can remember. The work is truly introspective, socially conscious, and of course, mephedrone-soaked gold. It is an instant classic. I was privileged enough to attend their 48-hour album release party at Shooter’s Tavern up in Auckland last May, and let me tell you, whether you’re a hip-hop purist or simply like to party like hellfire and eat your face off, the six-piece live performance at Sammy’s on the Friday 27th this month will be one of the best gigs of the year. So I’ll see you there, and maybe we’ll share a laugh about turning all our StudyLink paychecks into yellow snot funk. “Don’t do drugs.”