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Wairoa hip-hop duo up for award

In 2017, Wairoa hip-hop duo Rugged and Wylde’s debut EP 4018sis, a mix of hip-hop, electro, trap and dub, made the Waiata Maori Music Awards finals. Made up of freelance sound engineer Zach Stark and Ratima Hauraki, the duo’s recently released album, The King and the Chief is now a finalist in this year’s awards.

The recording joins finalists Tautoko by Tipene, and Waka by Grove Roots in the Best Maori Urban Rap/Hip-Hop/RnB Album category.

In 2017 Rugged and Wylde were the first group from Wairoa to be nominated for the awards. Stark and Hauraki’s goal is to push the boundaries of hip-hop in New Zealand to create a distinctively Kiwi genre, they told The Gisborne Herald in the same year.

“I was watching the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards, and the urban/hip -hop category came on,” said Stark.

“Some chick had an album out — I listened to a lot of the contenders and I didn’t hear a single word of te reo. It was just a bunch of slang from the US.”

“I just couldn’t believe it. Why steal slang from the US when you have a whole other language to borrow from?”

Established by composer, musician and teacher Tama Huata ONZM (Ngati Kahungunu), and now in its 12th year, the Waiata Maori Music Awards celebrate excellence in Maori music.

The awards ambassadors are Maisey Rika, Taisha, Rob Ruha and Tama Waipara.

The awards will be presented at a red carpet extravaganza ceremony at Club Hastings on Friday, September 13.

The ceremony will be livestreamed on Waiata Maori Music Awards’ Facebook page.

THE KING AND THE CHIEF: American born Zach Stark (left) and Wairoa man Ratima Hauraki make up hip-hop duo Rugged and Wylde whose album The King and the Chief is a finalist in the Waiata Maori Music Awards finals. Picture supplied