Haz Huavi graced the cover of NZM’s Dec/Jan 2012 issue as part of Home Brew, the accompanying article to which revealed some of his beat-making technique and noted that he also had a second crew, along with rappers Lucky Lance and Tony TZ. Team Dynamite now have an album of their own out, one featuring a host of young beat-makers and rappers, with Haz’ Beatz taking the role of as executive producer, as he tells Martyn Pepperell.
Back in 2009 Haz’ Beatz (Haz Huavi) was an unknown beat-maker. Working from a bedroom production studio at his mother’s house in Otahuhu in Auckland, he was pushing his soul- and jazz-informed hip hop instrumentals via myspace and online forums like hiphopnz.com.
These were the halcyon days in which he developed his rhythmic and melodic signatures without the pressure of having an audience or anything even remotely near commercial pressures. That same year a young Avondale-based rapper named Tom Scott started ripping his beats off myspace and lacing them up with uncompromising and witty reality-based lyrics. The two eventually met up, and with that came the beginnings of the national phenomenon we are now familiar with as Homebrew.
Around a similar time a friend of Haz asked if she could send a couple of her rapper mates over to listen to his music and show him what they could do. He didn’t object, so Lucky Lance and Tony TZ, as they’re known in hip hop circles, dropped around. Speaking to me from Melbourne, via cellphone, Haz thinks back to that first visit.
“They came over the next day. The very next day bro. Lance was a bit jittery, so he went to the shop to get a drink. I was playing my beats, Tony was just sitting there looking at me, and he started rapping. By the time Lance got back, I still hadn’t said anything, but I was thinking, ‘Cool, this guy isn’t scared to show me what he can do’. Then Lance started rapping, and I was like, ‘Oh my god’.”
From that point the music just flowed. Haz was making beats every single day and on most of those days Tony and Lance would come over. If he wasn’t working on songs with them, he was working on songs with Tom.
“Tom never picked the beats that they picked, and they never picked the beats he picked, Haz recalls. “So it was cool for me, cause that used up all of my production. Tom would take half, and I would give the other half to the boys.”
A year passed and Haz, Lance and Tony had put together their first release, ‘The Demo Tape’ which they released as Team Dynamite, the crew name Lance and Tony had been rapping under since high school. Both possessed of, as Haz puts it “… that machine gun [rap] style.”
Tony and Lance placed everyday stories relating to their Auckland city upbringings, hopes and aspirations over his gritty head-nod instrumentals.
Initially informed by ’90s west coast gangsta rap, their narratives became increasingly thoughtful and locally grounded – in part though personal thought and development – and partly through association with Tom Scott’s extended Young, Gifted and Broke (YGB) artist collective.
As Homebrew’s and @Peace’s stars began to rise, Team Dynamite were watching from the wings, sometimes running out on stage to contribute guest verses or open up. An aborted EP titled ‘Faith Music’ led to recent album ‘Shepherd’s Delight’. This time, Haz served as executive producer, letting Tony and Lance collect additional beats off YGB-affiliated beat-makers like Christoph El Truento, BHaru, Miso Shiru, Ben Jamin’ and Dandruff Dicky.
“I’ll always make them beats, but we had a gang of people who could help,” Haz enthuses.
They also called on local rappers/vocalists Che Fu, @Peace, Lui Silk (also of Homebrew) and Tonga Vaea. The outcome is a rich expression of life in inner city Auckland. Drenched in aspirations and cautions, with the songs enclosed, they’ve crafted stories worth returning to for years to come.