This annual award acknowledges one Aotearoa New Zealand record released over 20 years ago on an independent label. Whether a 12”, a compilation, EP, or full-length album, these records have become quintessential gold nuggets of our musical history. Like the Taite Music Prize main prize the Classic Record is a critically judged award for originality considering the artistic merit, creativity, innovation and excellence of an album in its entirety irrespective of album sales, artist popularity, previous awards or international achievements.
This year's judging panel has recognised the 1994 New Zealand album; PROUD - An Urban-Pacific Streetsoul Compilation. Encapsulating and showcasing the incredible talent of young artists from South and West Auckland that were yet to come into mainstream consciousness, producer Alan Jansson worked with Tim Mahon (from Otara Music Arts Centre and Blam Blam Blam) and Phil Fuemana to bring in a range of artists representing the contemporary Māori and Pacifica music of the time. The result was the hugely influential 1994 compilation PROUD, featuring Sisters Underground, Pacifican Descendants, Semi MCs, MC Slam, Radio Backstab, DJ Payback, and Otara Millionaires Club.
In his book, 100 Essential New Zealand Albums, music writer and broadcaster Nick Bollinger wrote, “It was Jansson’s instinct to emphasise elements of the music that reflected the Pacifican background of the artists, and throughout the album one could hear log drums, ukuleles and the so-called ‘Māori strum’ which Jansson had first encountered at after-work parties on the building sites where he had worked as a teenager. The result was a sound uniquely New Zealand, and strikingly different from the R&B and hip-hop coming from anywhere else at the time.”
The most successful tunes off the compilation were Sisters Underground’s ‘In The Neighbourhood’ and ‘We R The OMC’ by The Otara Millionaires Club.
Jansson continued working with Pauly Fuemana, who had taken the OMC name after the group had split. Their collaboration eventually gave the world ‘How Bizarre’, described on British TV show Top Of The Pops as “the biggest song ever to come out of New Zealand”. ‘How Bizarre’ reached the Top 10 in 15 countries, and reached No.1 in many places, including Australia, NZ, Austria, Canada, Ireland and the United States.
Listen to PROUD - An Urban-Pacific Streetsoul Compilation
on Apple Music HERE
on Spotify HERE