3 The Hard Way, 2003

Russell blogs the reissue today of the long missing in action 3 The Hard Way album, Old Skool Prankstas.

The story of 3 The Hard Way is one of those music industry specials. Back in 1994, their debut single, ‘Hip Hop Holiday’ came out of nowhere to become the first rap record to top the New Zealand charts.

See the link for more of the story and wider importance of this lost long player. Or Peter McLennan’s extended piece on this reissue.

As far as I can work out Old Skool Prankstas was the fourth NZ hip hop album (we took a while to get moving on this rap stuff but when we did…..) after the debut Upper Hutt Posse album, the McOJ & Rhythm Slave long player, both on Murray Cammick’s Southside label, and Urban Disturbance’s 37 Degrees Latitude on DeepGrooves (which may have come just after this record) but it was the one that caught fire, being certified platinum in 1995.

Contractual issues and other stuff meant it disappeared in the late 1990s. We tried to get the thing out again in 2003, but – as Russell says - bizarrely nobody seemed to have a copy of the album that had sold 15,000+ copies in 1994.

And the label – DeepGrooves – that had issued it was defunct and the owner, Kane Massey, had disappeared without trace (in Japan we were told – that narrows it…). It took a while but we retrieved the rights and, without a copy to master it from or the tapes – nothing.

It nagged at me for years. Getting NZ stuff back out there is a personal passion, although often not as easy it it might seem to the casual observer/critic.

A few months back I had an email from Peter – and, well, as he says:

The band had planned to reissue this back in 2003, when they released their 2nd album, but no one in the band had a copy! I found one in Real Groovy last month and passed it to their label, and whipped up some liner notes, and now….

I needed to find myself in the same city as Peter but that opportunity presented itself last week when a film company fortuitously flew me back on an unrelated project, and thus we were able to bring it all together. Peter suggested bonus tracks, which we added, and he put together the nifty digital booklet which you can access here (or as part of the download when it goes live on iTunes this next week).

And, as a timely bonus, Amplifier are about to launch lossless file releases. Old Skool Prankstas will be in the first batch of those. I’m thrilled about that.

The story, of course, didn’t end then. In 2002 Alan Jansson and I signed the last two members of the band, Chris (aka Boy C) and Mike (aka DJ Mike Mixx) to our Joy label and recorded the album Eyes On The Prize, with Alan producing. The first single from that album was It’s On, which hit number one in New Zealand October 2003, some 9 years and 10 months after Hip Hop Holiday, and went gold later that month.

Personal issues meant that there was no more, although Boy C appears on the very last – to date unreleased – OMC single from 2007.

For more on DeepGrooves head here, or put your name down for the impending book on the label, also from Peter.

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