A year on from X-Factor, New Zealand's only female rap duo have released their first music video, Bubblegum.
L.O.V.E's Stacy Awheto, 22, and Toni Turner, 28, both of Hamilton, were voted off in the third round of the music competition but it only encouraged them to continue their dream.
The video is "about empowering women, independent women. We want them to realise they can be strong," said Turner.
Awheto is studying a Bachelor of Media Arts at Wintec, majoring in commercial music, and loves being immersed in the craft. "I've just done the [certificate] and I'm getting into the degree. It's opened my eyes to many other possibilities."
Turner is mentoring a group of up and coming hip-hop artists and hopes she can continue to make music.
The group is still together but the performers have stage alter-egos, a move they felt necessary to pursue individual careers. Awheto's stage name is Phoenix Iami and Turner's is Royal T.
"Iami stands for ‘I am that I am' and phoenix is a bird that rises from the ashes," said Awheto.
Turner said: "I'm an independent empowered woman and I want to show women they can be that too. Don't be scared to be fierce."
The duo said they were overwhelmed by the support they have received, especially from those in their hometown.
"We have supporters everywhere. But people in Hamilton, man, it's support on another level. We can't be more grateful," said Awheto.
L.O.V.E's manager Samarah Wilson produced and directed their music video and said she was inspired by how the duo has grown since X-Factor.
"These girls have taken on every bit of critique and applied it to their art."
The video was shot non-stop over 18 hours, on a small budget and a large part of the resources, from costumes to staging, were donated.
Awheto had a beat in mind for the Bubblegum track and in collaboration with Turner, they had the lyrics, beat and ideas for the video finished within three days.
Growing up, Awheto always enjoyed singing but rap was something that "pulled me in".
L.O.V.E accepts it will never make millions rapping in New Zealand but the performers just want to be able to "express ourselves creatively".
L.O.V.E's music video Bubblegum launches today on Edge TV and YouTube.
- Waikato Times