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Maitreya - Āio Album Review

03 Nov 2012 // A review by Miss_Jukebox

Āio is long overdue and an album that had to be made. Maitreya, the moniker of hip-hop MC Jamie Greenslade, has released his second album, a work that incorporates both the English language, and Te Reo Maori. Greenslade, a Pakeha, is an example of contemporary New Zealand- a man who embraces the two dominant cultures in our society. So much focus has always been on the tensions and differences between the two cultures. Maitreya is a force of synthesis and unification. Greenslade has produced an album that is emblematic of the intrinsic qualities of the two cultures, all across the backdrop of the R&B and hip-hop genres. Āio is an example of the potential of Te Reo being integral in mainstream Kiwi music. 

The work is equal parts inspiration, education and musicality. Maitreya, hailing from Christchurch, is much grounded in his roots. This album is his gift to the youth and the future generations to find their footing in modern NZ culture. Āio is a two-disc set. A bilingual album, one disc is in Te Reo Maori and the other disc is an English version. Of course, the album isn’t as black and white as that. That would defeat Greenslade’s goal of amalgamating Maori and English. The result is a smooth and groovy blend. The songs are inclusive of both languages, across both discs. Maitreya is here to school you not only on hip-hop but on the beauty of the Te Reo language. 

The album booklet is a textbook. It is cleverly designed to instruct the listener on learning some Te Reo. It features both English and Maori translations. But it works deeper than this and delves into the language grammar. The lyrics are colour coded into nouns, verbs, adjectives and particles, in both the English and Te Reo versions. You can learn the language of the album simply by matching the colours across the two. 

Musically, Āio is a excellent work of R&B hip-hop. Maitreya has great style in his rhymes, both lyrically and in its delivery. His vocals are easing and assured. He keeps it straight and clear cut. Maitreya has found support in artists such as Anika Moa, Jason Kerrison, Whirimako Black, Awa and Cubworld to add further eminence to the album. Āio provides a range of dance tracks such as ‘The Life (Te Oranga)’ and ‘I Don’t Really Mind (Kei Te Pai Rā)’ But also the calm and stillness is captured in song such as ‘Who’s To Say? (Mā Wai Te Kī)’ featuring Cubworld, a melodic and poignant track replete with earnestness. 

The title track features the gentle vocals of songstress Anika Moa. ‘Āio’ means ‘be calm, at peace’ and this song is truly that, with the inspiring wisdom in key lyrics “I need to be, the change I want to see...It begins with me, Āio.” This is what Maitreya wants this album to be- a symbol of peace and unity for all cultures. Āio is an album of hope. Hope for the fortification of Te Reo culture and hope for dreams to be fulfilled. This is the ambition of Greenslade, and Āio is hope fulfilled.  

 -Janise.

 

About Maitreya

Jamie Greenslade is best known in New Zealand as a member of the Christchurch group Dark Tower who took the nation by storm in the summer of 1999-2000 with the singles 'Baggy Trousers' and 'The New Outlook' feat. Dave Dobbyn. In 2001 he began recording under the guidance of DLT who then gave him the moniker Maitreya meaning a ‘Future Teacher’.

In 2002 Maitreya released the successful single 'Lick-a-Lounge' under Mai Music as well as becoming a popular On Air Personality at Auckland radio station Mai FM. He continued to collaborate with artists such as Nesian Mystik and Kat Theo while recording his demo 'Comin 2 Amerika' in anticipation of an August 2003 move to New York City.

For the next two years Maitreya immersed himself in New York’s Open Mic scene and in 2005 he released and sold over 500 copies of 'Illegal Alien', a mixtape style album hosted by The Game’s DJ, Kris-Stylez. He also secured an internship at Roc-a-Fella Records (Jay-Z) as a member of the 'Street Team' and in 2006 began his own live show, 'Illegal', which he continues to perform in and around the Lower East Side and Brooklyn, New York.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Maitreya

Releases

Aio
Year: 2012
Type: Album
Close To Home
Year: 2008
Type: Album

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