Waiata Māori Music Awards: hip hop legend DLT and composer Te Taite Cooper to be honoured
Aotearoa’s Godfather of Hip Hop Darryl Thomson, aka DLT, and long-time Māori composer, the late Te Taite Cooper will receive the Iconic Award, which recognise those who’ve made a significant contribution to Māori music.
Darryl Thomson (Ngāti Kahungunu) grew up in Napier’s Maraenui, before moving to Upper Hutt in the 1980s. There he met fellow musician Dean Hāpeta, and the pair formed pioneering hip hop group Upper Hutt Posse.
Their 1988 track ‘E Tū’, which came out in October 1988, was Aotearoa’s first ever hip hop song.
They wrote ‘E Tū’ when they were still teens. It tackled themes of inequality and racism, and encouraged young Māori to draw upon the strength of their tīpuna, challenging them to “e tū, stand proud, kia kaha, say it loud”.
‘E Tū’ received the Classic Record award at the 2016 Taite Music Prize, and Upper Hutt Posse was inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame at the 2018 New Zealand Music Awards.
The story behind ‘E Tū’ is retold in the RNZ Music video series NZ Hip Hop Stand Up, which features interviews with DLT, Dean Hāpeta), Teremoana Rapley and Bennett Pomana.
Aside from his work with the posse, Darryl has had a very productive solo career, releasing two albums of his own including The True School, which featured the chart-topping single ‘Chains’, a collaboration with Che Fu.
‘Chains’ won Best Single at the 1997 New Zealand Music Awards and Che-Fu was awarded Best Male Vocalist for the song.
DLT’s second album, Altruism, came out in 2000 and remained in the Top 40 Album Chart for several weeks. It included singles, ‘Liquid Skies’ and ‘I’m Your MC’.
DLT will receive the Lifetime Contribution to Māori Music Award, Te Tohu O Manawa Rahi Ki Te Ao Pūoro Māori, recognising his work as a rapper, songwriter, producer and mentor for many young Polynesian hip hop artists, as well as being an advocate for all things Māori.