18 May 2021

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The Usual Suspects


Since their debut appearance on the Breakin Wreckwordz album in 2005, it has been near impossible to pick up a review in which the author does not praise with passion an admiration for the unique sound of The Usual Suspects, both in style and production. The two man combo, Samoan born MC Bishop and Tongan born mc/producer Saia make up this sleeping volcano that is soon to erupt into the hip hop mainstream.

Saia Tuitahi and Sam Tanielu are young, loud and resilient. Having been making music since the late 1990s, The Usual Suspects was established in 2002 when Bishop and Saia together with Saias brother Rezvan formed to perform a live show together at the at the now non-existent but legendary Temple club. It was at this time they hooked up with Cyphanetik to become part of the original Breakin Wreckwordz crew. Before long their name was hot on the tongue of anyone fortunate enough to be enlightened with their music.

Best known for their song Profile - the first single from the BWW self-titled compilation - even with limited commercial exposure (without even a video to their name) they already have an army of dedicated fans. Profile spent consecutive weeks at number one on the NZ alternative chart, was play-listed in heavy rotation on Mai Fm, Flava 96.1 and all the B Net stations (reaching #1 and #2 on these charts respectively). The song’s crossover appeal gained them an appearance on Top of the Pops, precious publicity, helping to retain their names in the pop collective world. Despite this, their kind of pertinent cheek is yet to be understood fully by the commercial market. So far, they’re two of the nicest boys in the scene.

Saia’s got a wonderful flow and combined with extensive metaphors and wordplay (“I play touch with oxygen in an attempt to make some air play”) his skills speak for themselves. A multi talented musician, he also makes beats and has done work for ex Dubious Brothers MC Tyna (for his upcoming album with JB) as well as other NZ releases. In the underground he is probably best known for his beat on BWW mixtape II anthem Hardcore with Cyphanetik. If you were to ask him how many appearances he has on record, he may succinctly advise “at least enough to count on both hands”. Forget the humble attitude when listening to his music though, his Hip-Hop braggadacio is charmingly obvious.

The other lyrical appendage, Bishop, has an impudence evidenced by verses using conscious tongue and cheek.. Spending any time with him shows clearly why everyone likes him though. He’s humble and.. well, just really happy. Bishop is a firm believer in the sane, loving nature of people and this is evidenced by small gestures and some of his more obscure lyrical releases.

Optimism aside, even a cursory glance at US requires recognition of an important attribute: the empowered perspective that appeals to our youth. There’s an intelligent and informed nature to their work and despite the bravado of the traditional hip hop verse, their social commentary is relevant and needed. Add to this a charismatic stage presence and you have a gig people just don’t want to leave.

Band Members:
Saia Tu'itahi
Sam 'MC Bishop' Tanielu


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  • Auckland

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