By Jake Ebdale
Artist: Ladi6 and @Peace
Date / Venue: Saturday July 13th, The Powerstation, Auckland
On a slightly cold and windy Saturday night, I ventured off to the smart pairing of Ladi6 and @Peace atAuckland's Powerstation. It was exciting to see these acts playing together - they both share an affinity for lolloping, low frequency beats and equally impressive rhyming skills. @Peace started off the night with a playful set that shook the room's speakers upon the first smash of the MPC pad. Tom Scott and Lui Tuiasauhave a motley stage presence - Tuiasau with dreads and a floppy hat looked like a long lost member of thePharcyde - but the duo still buoyed recent tracks like ‘Cake' and ‘Flowers' onto a higher plain; Scott with rapid fire delivery on the former made it a highlight, receiving rapturous applause. Bringing out a joint on stage proved the Homebrew affiliations slightly detrimental, but they still put on a decent 40 minute show.
After a short interval, anticipation was palpable for the main act Ladi6 as the band have a new album,Automatic, on the horizon.
Ladi6 (real name Karoline Tamati) cuts an impressive figure on stage. She's elusive, interesting, and unbeknownst to many casual NZ music fans, an accomplished solo artist, winning the Taite Music Prize in 2011. Out of the new songs, the title track of 'Automatic' was a stand out: an expansion of experimentally tinged Ladi tracks like ‘Koln' and ‘Squid'. Tamati, known for her collaborations with NZs big reggae players, has shunned the skank in favour of heavy, off kilter beats, which is a welcome change.
An immensely talented backing band including Julien Dyne, producer Parks and @Peace producer/keys player Brandon Haru, took Ladi's songs into uncharted territory. Dyne is a gifted purveyor of drunk rhythms in the lineage of J Dilla, and is a perfect fit for this incarnation of the band. In fact, the ghost of Dilla was apparent throughout the whole set.
‘Shine On', the second single from Automatic, incorporated the Slum Village track ‘Fall in Love' on intro and outro, the band themselves acknowledging their debt to Jay Dee. ‘Ikarus', her best track yet, announced her comeback on stage, a powerful, slightly menacing number that shows off how effective Parks and Tamati are as collaborators. The band made hit single ‘Like Water' into a heavier and sharper version that incited the mixed crowd (fat white guys with beards and plaid shirts, huge Samoans with backpacks, small blonde girls twerking) to sway incoherently. This reaction proved how Ladi6 has the potential to be accessible across hip hop and pop circles.
The new album will be a triumph, I'm sure of it. Sometimes new songs played before a proper release can be a drag - these were anything but. People need to realise we have a star and treasure in Ladi6. All together a great pairing and an enjoyable show.
Automatic is out August 16th.