REVIEW: There’s a bittersweet moment in this year’s Dawn Raid – Oscar Kightley’s documentary on the record label that Brotha D and Andy Murnane founded in the 1990s.
Murnane is describing the label’s rise to success and how, by 2003, it seemed that their artist Mareko was about to become the next breakout in New Zealand hip hop – at least. And then, Scribe’s debut single Stand Up dropped – and the trajectory of music in Aotearoa was changed forever.
Stand Up spent 12 weeks at No. 1, won every prize and award it was possible to win and spawned a thousand remixes and tributes. It was the biggest song in local music since OMC had released How Bizarre, eight years earlier.
But, who was Scribe? And how had such a talent sailed under the popular radar, before bursting into the local scene so dramatically?
* Scribe is back: ‘I never felt like I deserved to be that famous guy’
* Rise and fall: Setting the Dawn Raid legacy straight
* Dawn Raid: Oscar Kightley perfectly captures the music and the characters
* Kiwi story of hip hop boom and bust in Oscar Kightley’s directorial debut
* Scribe and family bond bravely to sing redemption songs
Scribe: Return of the Crusader is an eight-part, mini-doco series on Malo Luafutu and the world that made him.
Luafutu was born on Christchurch in 1979. Dad was in prison for his first four years and mum was a troubled and addicted soul. Malo and big brother Matthias were left to raise themselves a lot of the time, or endure some brutal behaviour if dad was around. Even in one of the most broken down suburbs of the city, the Luafutu boys were tough, resourceful kids who sometimes needed to be protected from the worst of what life was throwing at them.
Scribe: Return of the Crusader charts these early years, brushes with addiction and death – and then the incredible good fortune that music found Scribe when it did. But fame, touring and success bring their own demons – and Scribe’s well documented fall from the heights began.
Scribe: Return of the Crusader is a bracing, honest and extremely watchable show. Those eight parts are each only 14 or 15 minutes long. Breaking the story down into bite-sized chunks seems to me like a brilliant way of reaching the audience who are going to resonate with Scribe’s story the most. I’m just a grown-up ADHD kid myself – and I sure appreciated it.
These days, Scribe is on his feet, clean and releasing new material. Brother Matthias is a respected actor – he was Tubs in Coming Home in the Dark – while dad Fa’amoana John Luafutu has written the critically acclaimed stage show A Boy Called Piano, on his own childhood and surviving inside the notorious boys’ homes of the 1960s.
Scribe’s story – and the one the Luafutu family have to tell – strikes me as about the most deserving material for a documentary in Aotearoa I’ve seen in years. Return of the Crusader is a brilliant achievement.
Scribe: Return of the Crusader is now available to stream on TVNZ OnDemand.