December/January 2015

by Chip Matthews

The Doqument: Double Statement

by Chip Matthews

The Doqument: Double Statement

An album and a series of singles have followed since The Doqument’s self-titled debut track was released in 2012, leading them to the unleashing of their ambitious double album, ‘Black Canvas: Wall & Piece’ in October. The new album sees the enterprising hip hop trio collaborating with David Dallas and PNC. Chip Matthews talked with SikeOne, ImaGe and Shaqles of The Doqument about cliques and beats.

Plaques line the walls as we convene at the Frequency Media Group offices with the Auckland-based hip hop group, The Doqument. It is quickly apparent that the belief and vision of these men has them comfortable in these surroundings; indeed, it encompasses the drive they themselves are putting into their work.

The Doqument, comprised of MCs Peter Miringaorangi (SikeOne) and Jesse Magrath (ImaGe) along with producer/MC George Gavet (Shaqles), begin by talking about their collective histories pre-DoqLife. While the band formed in 2012, their coming together seems to have been almost pre-ordained.

“It was pretty weird how we were walking the same paths,”” SikeOne opens, referring to them all studying at MAINZ in Auckland. ImaGe and Shaqles both completed the Certificate in Audio Engineering in 2011.

“We found out who was into rap, pretty much the first day,”” remembers ImaGe.

SikeOne had completed the MAINZ live sound course back in 2006, before going on to study at South Seas Film & Television School. In the same year that Shaqles and ImaGe met at MAINZ, both ImaGe and SikeOne fired off a series of releases, which helped bring them to each other’s awareness.

In 2011, the MCs entered a competition run through blog, Ayebro, the prize being, amongst other things, the chance to open for hip hop legend KRS-One. SikeOne went on to win, ImaGe placing fourth. As they retell the story around that competition it becomes apparent that these MCs, whilst comfortable as solo artists, were looking at how they could challenge their own development.

Fresh from EP releases (ImaGe’s ‘Strate Illa’ and SikeOne’s ‘Higher Power’), they each found themselves wanting to develop their craft further. As SikeOne puts it, he was “…looking for another avenue, something else. I like the team, y’know, stand as a front.”

ImaGe confirms this train of thought.

“I always wanted a clique …of dope rappers. ‘Elevation‘ is pretty much like …our key word.””

So, in a place where they were both looking to collaborate, SikeOne and ImaGe come together to record. Shaqles advanced a beat, which inspired both MCs. From there, it becomes a tale of momentum, from which came their debut tune, The Doqument. The two MC’s stories almost intertwine as they both recollect the energy of that particular moment, with SikeOne rounding it out.

“It wasn’t until after the song completion, that we were like, ‘What, are we a clique or what?’””

The tune, held down by both ascending and descending keys samples, and showcasing the rapping skills of the two, but of producer Shaqles, was supported soon after with the band’s debut video (incidentally, SikeOne’s editing debut as well). That helped to clearly define the arrival of The Doqument, heralding what would become a productive next couple years for the trio.

January 2013 saw the release of The Doqument’s debut album, ‘The Rookie Album’, which begins with a fantastic use of Willie Hutch’s classic, I Choose You, solidifying the group’s place in the hip hop scene. Strong lyrically, and held together with Shaqles’ warm, straight ahead production, ‘The Rookie Card’ almost perfectly captures the group’s journey up to that point. Now, as they celebrate the release of their ambitious double album, ‘Black Canvas: Wall & Piece’, one can easily hear the massive progression this trio have made over the intervening 22 months.

Where the debut had an identifiable common thread production-wise, it is through the two albums, which make up ‘Black Canvas’ in which you can hear the broadening of Shaqles’ pallette. From straight ahead strong beats such as Peacemaker or White Walls, through to the more trap-like Avant Garde, there is enough space and time over the two albums, for this diversity to not just sit well, but to thread cohesively. Indeed, Shaqles realised a need to be conscious of such diversity while trying to find a balance with that unpredictability.

“There’s a few times I’ve had to go back and to listen to the old stuff …I can’t go too far left.””

Lyrically it encapsulates so much about this group. Very solid in its hip hop foundations, and yet (and you can hear it in the way they finish sentences and thoughts for each other) with a strong desire to never be complacent, to be always looking at moving The Doqument forward.

It seems as though The Doqument have been around for longer than they have. It’s an inherent quality in their music, their video and social media coverage, and their ability to drive the momentum. As I leave, they move from interview mode into meeting mode as they seek to keep the ship moving forward. What helps The Doqument proceed is their appreciation of the journey that is required; a level-headed approach to their craft and vision.