A sultry voice with razor sharp wit and a stage show to match; Ladi6 is New Zealand’s leading hip-hop soul artist who is fast emerging as an international star after live shows for Gil Scott-Heron, Mayer Hawthorne, Mos Def and Masta Ace. On the 8th of August, she drops game-changing sophomore album The Liberation Of….
Smoky album opener Bang Bang is sparked to life by valiant claps, powering an undercurrent of muted synths and winding kick drums. “With this track I’m claiming responsibility for the youth of my hometown in Christchurch”, says Ladi. “The youth of the community were falling through failing systems with no-one to lift them up. Someone needed to address this and speak on their behalf”.
Live favourite ’98 ‘Til Now is a boom-bapping swirl of horns and beat-boxing, harking back to Ladis hip-hop days in seminal all-girl crew Sheelahroc. “This track was my claim to fame”, says Ladi. “It’s a statement of who I am, where I’m from and how long I’ve been doing this”. Meanwhile, upcoming single Like Water is Ladi’s ode to her long-term boyfriend and father of her little girl. “I wanted to write a track expressing my love without being corny or singing a ballad”. The track is now certified Gold in New Zealand and has been sitting in the New Zealand top 10 for months.
Burn With Me is an understated call to arms, sparkling with unearthly electronica, it tracks Ladis emotional and philosophical evolution, whilst album closer Squid fires space age echoes across grinding percussion.
Whilst debut album Time Is Not Much represented a lucid summary of her career to date, the follow up is deeper, denser, and immaculately considered in sound and message. Issuing a clear assurance that regardless of where the rollercoaster takes her, Ladi6 cant forget where she comes from, who she speaks for and the concept her music represents – unity.
For a Samoan / New Zealand girl who grew up in a large, low income family in Christchurch, Ladi has come to travel the world and has forged a career highly decorated both at home and abroad. Embossed with industry awards, Ladi won ‘Best International Song’ at the USs ISC Song Awards, as voted for by Tom Waits, Jeff Beck and the Kings Of Leon, garnered critical acclaim, countless support slots and tellingly, gold certified New Zealand sales of her 2008 debut long player ‘Time Is Not Much’ (now available internationally via BBE Records).
The latest album was recorded over two months in Berlin, with production duties shared between her producer Parks and German beat auteur Sepalot. “The past year has been one of complete extremes”, she says, “from my hometown suffering life shattering earthquakes to touring the world for the first time ever. It’s been insane, and every event has had an impact on this album”. The Liberation Of… has spent twenty weeks and counting in the New Zealand charts and has already solidified itself as a seminal New Zealand album.
Ladi6 has developed her lyrically introspective soundscape over years of consistent touring and considered features with the likes of Fat Freddys Drop, NZ Shapeshifter, 50HZ and Scribe. “We also had the absolute pleasure of touring with and supporting the legendary Gil Scott Heron”, says Ladi. “Conversations with him gave me an insight into the humility and wisdom of this amazing man, and a hint perhaps as to what it takes to do this music thing for life. To witness someone as magnetic and mystical as Gil take the stage at sixty plus was awe-inspiring”.
Now, Ladi6 releases The Liberation Of… through Question Music on the 8th August, with live shows at Glastonbury and The Big Chill to come in the summer.