David Saotupe brought Samoa to Hollywood, but says Samoa brought him much more
Proud Samoan artist, David Saotupe, says having his latest hip hop track ‘MASTA’ featured on the soundtrack of Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw meant more than breaking into Hollywood.
It was a path for the artist also known as Tha Movement to showcase his Samoan culture and heritage to the world.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Mr. Saotupe shared the story behind the ‘MASTA’ soundtrack and how it connects with his Samoan roots.
“I’ve always been a hundred percent but now I’m a thousand percent proud especially with this music going out there, I am so confident to be a Samoan to go out there and interact with the palagis out there and I’m not scared or anything because my feet of ground of becoming a Samoan and actually having our people and also our little island support me," he said.
"I actually waved the flag proud.
“MASTA has given me more opportunities to work towards a new album that I’m working on right now.
"I'm just actually proud to see that our music has hit a big screen and it actually alerted the world about us Samoans, where we come from and how much an affect that we do that’d actually helped the world.”
Once MASTA made the Hobbs and Shaw soundtrack, it allowed audiences to connect to his music even more and discover Samoan hip hop.
“It’s totally a huge difference from what we had before and it’s cool because it’s allowing people to listen to my music and watch my videos and to feel comfortable with themselves because that’s the message I’m trying to tell out to the people," he said.
“To be proud of who they are and bot worry about the trend that are out there just reminding them to be proud of their roots and that’s why I mentioned the Manutagi in a lot of my music.”
Having Mr. Saotupe’s song featured on the big screen has moved his Samoan roots back to the forefront of his mind. Samoa is where he first learned about music which is the Fa’asamoa (Samoan traditions) of going to church.
“My career in music has been a bit of a tough journey, I started off as a juvenile child in my early teen days and I was in music classes during high schools as well and I was a big fan of music in regards to church," he said.
“If it wasn’t for church, I wouldn’t have been in this position so I joined a lot of aufaipeses (Choirs) and aukalavous (Youths) and going church, always been a fan of music,” he said.
And, as he grew, he caught up with past friends from his neighbourhood in New Zealand who were running an independent record label.
He was later on out into a course where they were taught how to market, promote and also create their music in terms of writing productions as well.
“No one really took me serious because of my past because of my juvenile days, everyone just though that I was just playing around really and now I’m making a bit of noise on the radio stations and being active up there in handling shows so that’s pretty much of my journey in the music scenes,” he said.
Mr. Saotupe’s journey in New Zealand has involved conflict between his proud Samoan heritage and the harsh realities of South Auckland gang life.
“It’s an ongoing thing in South Auckland about how we interpret the Samoan lifestyle to the modernised New Zealand lifestyle that we have," he said.
"We have these key things which based about respect, our culture, to know who we are and where we come from and to be proud of so these are the upbringing and the things that my parents taught me as a child and no matter what in life as I grow, I’d take this with me and teach it with other people.”
However, Mr. Saotupe said that was part of him trying to discover himself because he explained the lifestyle of South Auckland as not presenting many options to young people who either become a sports person, a musician or a gang member.
Mr. Saotupe was brought by his Samoan parents to Samoa to learn what his parents went through, to learn respect and to learn how they lived off the land before moving somewhere where money is never an issue.
Through that journey, he wrote a song called “Graduated” based about learning about his culture and about being New Zealand born but returning back to Samoa.
“That was my first time flying over to Samoa and I have heard a lot of stories from my mom and dad in the kitchen where we eat telling me “amuia okou” (you’re all lucky) you guys get to eat this while us back then didn’t have the luxury to eat these things," he said.
Mr. Saotupe didn’t take seriously back until he got to Samoa.
“Once I got off the airplane at Faleolo, I sort of saw everything and I had to humble myself down and bring myself down to reality and realise that to be grateful for your parents who work hard because if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have been a musician," he said.
Going back to Samoa has taught Mr. Saotupe the importance of being grateful, to be grateful of what you have and the Samoan family has taught him a lot about respect and just how people want to be approached.
A lot of stuff coming behind as a Samoa was something that Saotupe will never change although a few things are modernised these days but he’s just proud to be a Samoan and with all these values that he has helped him function in the world today.
Saotupe wishes to encourage musicians of Samoa to never give up.
“I’d like to say never give up on your dreams and to put a hundred percent in your craft and not get distracted from other people," he said.
“And also to have faith that God will help you and guide along the way and also you never know what could happen.
"Whatever you’re working on cold actually lead you to bigger accomplishments and for proof, as I experienced it myself, never ever thought that MASTA could make it to the big screen.”