DITCHED by his bro-ther, the 12-year-old Samoan boy is alone on the streets of South Auckland when he is set upon by a gang of youths. It all looks pretty hairy until big bro’ returns, throws a few haymakers and the situation is saved.
This was a day in the life of high-profile hip Savage (Demetrius Savelio). Except this time the victim is played by his son. And this time the action is played out in the video clip for his new song, Because Of You.
Because of who? Because of his own father who wasn’t the man he should have been. His brother who was his hero. His mother who tried. His “peeps” in the community of South Auckland.
The song is from Savage’s third solo album Mayhem & Miracles which, he says, is an autobiographical journey from the “mayhem” of his early life living on the streets to the “miracle” of being a big-selling artist who divides his time between New Zealand and the United States.
Content-wise, the artist leaves himself pretty exposed and he says that sound-wise, too, M&M is the most honest album he has ever made.
Savage sticks to the hard, banging vocal with which he made his name and has left it to collaborators like Spawnbreezie (US) and Ria Hall (NZ) to bring in a bit of chocolaty smooth.
And, handily, that approach appears to have worked. There’s enough bling-bearing hip hop to keep him active in the US market (where his 2005 single Swing made him a star) and enough intimacy to ensure he is keeping it real back home.
“I’ve always been in my own lane with my sound and, for me, this album has a really good balance from start to end,” he said. “I really wanted to blend all these different feels of music and am really pleased to have been able to achieve that.”
Savage is now aged 31 and has been in hip hop for more than half his life — he started writing songs as a preteen and was just 15 when he joined South Auckland crew The Deceptikonz.
“By the time I got to (Pukekohe high school) Wesley College I was right into it and was determined to make music my career,” he said.
“Even back then I was a believer . . . I believed that hip hop would one day be a big driver of music. I just wanted to be part of that, to see how far I could go.”
But sometimes, he admits, it’s not all it is cracked up to be. He recently decided not to shift his family over to the US “because there’s some things you just don’t want your kids to see”.
And even though his boy did “a bangin’ job” of starring in his latest video, it’s not a career he would recommend to his own children.
“Obviously you are going to encourage your kids in whatever they want to do but everybody wants their kids to be better than they are and it’s a hard industry to be in,” he says.
“There’s always young guys coming up to me at shows and asking what it takes. I can tell just by looking at them if they are committed and are going to work hard. I never thought I would have to work this hard in my life.”
It’s already been an interesting life and, with Savage keen to expend more energy on the business side of the industry, is set to get more interesting still.
In the meantime, he shares the journey so far on the album that he will be showcasing at next week’s Spring Massive gig in Gisborne.
He’ll bring a couple of collaborators with him and, combined with the local supports, says the event will, indeed, be “massive”.
“I haven’t been to Gisborne since I came with Scribe about three years ago so I’m really looking forward to it,” he says. “It’s gonna be a big weekend.”
■ Savage — with Prestige (Rek Dosage), Frisko (DKonz), DJ Exile, Brazilbeat Sound System, DJ Jose and Patient X — will be at Spring Massive (Poverty Bay Club) on September 1.