Visions of a Hip Hop hub: Poetik wants to see Samoa on a tour circuit
For the past 17 years, Ventry Parker strived to put Samoa on the music scene map, especially in rap and hip hop. As a young rapper he left 'the 685' for New Zealand to develop his career and at the same time, pave the way for his brothers and sisters back home.
This week, he is back to take that one step further: help build a platform for Samoan artists to perform on the radio, and be broadcast not only at home but in NZ, and through online streaming, anywhere in the world.
Island Base FM 87.5 kicks off this week and Mr Parker is among several New Zealand Samoan artists backing the project and putting their weight behind it.
"If a local artist comes up and had music ready to play on the radio, the platform is there, bang, you don't have to struggle like we did 20 years ago when we were coming up," he said.
"Once we all get together, it's magic!"
In the future, his vision is to put Samoa at the center of a hip hop tour circuit, which could go throughout the islands. He gets excited thinking about 50,000 people flooding Apia for two days of music.
Mentoring young artists to realise their vision as musicians is just one important aspect of Mr Parker's role at Island Base.
"Once you learn the business in this game you can get paid. Not everyone can play rugby, I couldn't play, wasn't me," he said.
And even better, Samoa has a better appetite for rap and hip hop than it did when Mr Parker was starting out, he said.
"We weren't seen as real artists, we were seen as these kids from St Joe or Pesega," he remembers.
"Now, I feel like with the presence of Pacific Islanders in hip hop overseas, it's come home."
For Samoan's, Mr Parker sees hip hop as a revolutionary form of self-expression. It has its roots in the performance, song and dance of fa'aSamoa, but with different stories.
"Now we are just doing our part, telling our stories. Whether it's stories of our families and our struggles, or the stories of last night in the club," he said.
Poetik's music talks to the everyday life of the people he lives with, and highlights Samoan life too. Vailima and palusami rate a mention occasionally, and so does Samoa's area code, 685. There are even some lyrics in his home language too.
His rap is "for the people." It's the kind of material Government should be listening to but isn't, Mr Parker said.
"I'm getting old now, and there are younger rappers than me, they should see where they're at.
"See where are we are as a people, see where our kids are and listen to them. Find out what they are going through, what are they thinking... because a lot of us are lost."
Being back in Samoa is spiritual, Mr Parker said. His family land of 100 years is in Tapatapo, and his family are spread across Apia, Fugalei and Vaimoso.
"But at the same time this is work. We came here to build, you know, but it is a big bonus for me to be at home."