Samoan born and bred rap artist, Poetik, whose real name is Ventry Parker, is someone to keep a close eye on.
He continues to go from strength to strength in the hip hop scene in New Zealand and is starting to make waves in the U.S. market.
Based in New Zealand where he is pursuing a music career, Poetik recently released his debut album “Poetikly Done” last month and shot to number one on the New Zealand itunes chart on its first day.
After receiving positive reviews of his album, this lyricist is going further and putting his album forward to the Pacific Music Awards next year.
In an interview with the Samoa Observer, Parker talks to us about his musical journey so far and his hopes of putting Samoan hip hop on the map.
Parker hails from the villages of Tapatapao, Fugalei, Falelatai and Lao. Chasing a career as a hip hop artist in Samoa was not easy for Ventry Parker and he had to leave his beloved country almost six years ago to pursue his dream.
“I remember when I was 14 years old walking through town with no shoes looking for funding for our first album we were going to record in Samoa. No one took us seriously. We had to really hustle to get music done.
“Recording was one thing, and then there was putting the music out to the world! We were so poor back then we barely ate anything. One can of eleni with some rice between five of us Vital Status group members every day! Poverty was the hardest obstacle.”
Even after relocating to New Zealand for bigger and better opportunities, Parker still had to overcome stereotypes and racism within the music industry.
“Because Aia isn’t known in the Hip Hop world in regards to lyricism or bars, some people did laugh when I said I’m from Samoa, as if to tease like we can’t speak English in the islands.
“I still find it hard with some of the big radio stations who only seem to play American rap and not the local or Poly stuff.
“It’s hard to get funding like other artistes, perhaps if I wasn’t so brutally honest with the music I’d get further ahead in the commercial side of things.”
Ventry was born into a musical family with his musician father, Faasavalu Dave Parker and his uncle Peseta John Parker, as his early influences but Ventry came into his own very early on in his teens when he developed a love for hip hop.
“I was born into the music with them and all my family singing. When I was in Pesega at S.J.C. and R.L.S.S. I was always playing BoneThugs ‘n’ Harmony. I first heard EAST 99 at my uncle Valentines Hotel in Fugalei back in 1994 and have been hooked ever since.”
These days Parker is busy promoting his music all over New Zealand and will be heading to the U.S.A. to participate in shows.
“Just recently I’ve relocated to N.Z. and I’ve been performing every week around the country, got shows in the works for California and Utah.
“The Poly Rap Game here is great, the scene is alive. And before my time is done overseas, I want to bring a few of these amazing artistes to Samoa for a massive hip hop, RnB and SOUL music show! I am in talks with a sponsor in Samoa right now.”
Hip hop culture and music have historically been outlets to express Black America’s resistance to the social injustices and inequalities they faced in a segregated America and Parker found his education in Hip Hop led him to discover Polynesia’s own similar struggle with colonialism and its impact on the Pacific diaspora around the world.
“Studying the Black Panther Party in America lead me to the door step of the Polynesian Panther Party of Central Auckland New Zealand. That in itself showed me that the struggle is universal.
“There is common ground with all our indigenous peoples, and music is what brings us together. The stories we tell in our music about our ancestors, slavery, our struggles through the colonization era right up through the 1960s until today, they are almost identical with Polynesians, Africans, Aboriginals and native Americans.”
Despite the struggle that hip hop was born out of, Parker still believes in the unifying power of music.
“Therefore I believe it is paramount that as one of the very few Apia City M.C.’s in hip hop, that I tell stories (our stories) and continue to make music and collaborate with other artists on a global scale.
“That is how we come together. I see in our people that respect and love we have for music. Rap music resonates just like reggae or the old school RnB. And when it is not watered down, when it is at its purest form, that’s when it resonate the most with our people.”
Parker is not only a rapper; he is an entrepreneur at the same time. As an artist who prefers to have creative control over everything, he has had to wear different hats in order to get the exposure he needs for his music.
“I’m an independent artist. Everything I do from recording, working with producers and artistes, promo, photoshoots and music videos, duplication and marketing, I do all on my own.”
Samoa is never far from Parker’s mind and being away from the “685” as he puts it, is purely a commercial choice but he plans to return home and make it his base.
He sees himself continuing with his music and growing the hip-hop culture here in Samoa by supporting other promising rap artistes.