“The balancing act that Mokomokai pull off so effortlessly is that the music is world-class but still distinctly local.”
That’s what Avantdale Bowling Club’s Tom Scott said about Auckland hip hop group MOKOMOKAI.
The proto-supergroup is composed of producers Dusty and Ghosts One alongside rapper-producer duo Eno x Dirty. All are underground veterans, consistently producing some fine experimental material, but the collaboration’s newest release, WHAKAREHU, sounds set to provide them with greater exposure.
Between them, the members of MOKOMOKAI have worked with some stellar international artists, but their music remains true to where they’re from. As Scott added about the group, ” It’s a trick that’s harder to pull off than they make it look. This is just who they are. It’s just some real shit.”
It helps that they collaborate with local favourites like Brandn Shiraz, who features on “ROOFRACKS”, the lead single from the group’s new album.
“ROOFRACKS” is stringently dark. The atmosphere is heavy, both in the narrative and the music video, which interweaves nighttime scenes of Auckland CBD and a suburban line of shops. MOKOMOKAI and Shiraz interweave too, coolly swapping urgent verses.
The video, directed by Connor Pritchard, features vibrant 16mm film snapshots of Central Auckland, and it’s the type of serious clip that makes Tāmaki Makaurau look and feel like a major centre of global hip hop.
“ROOFRACKS” is the ideal introduction to WHAKAREHU‘s tone: MOKOMOKAI are in a confident, almost arrogant, mood, but they deserve to showcase a little cocky self-belief. Their second release is set to feature guest spots from Melodownz and Troy Kingi and follows last year’s self-titled EP.
Shiraz, meanwhile, should be feeling equally buoyant, with his reputation on the increase this year. “There’s a lot of really talented hip hop artists in NZ, but I always looked at Brandn as a sort of bar,” fellow rapper Hans. told Rolling Stone AU/NZ this week. “I really respect the consistency in quality and how each project/release feels like a level up.”
Before listening to MOKOMOKAI”s full album, which comes out on Friday, June 2nd, you can watch the video for “ROOFRACKS” below.