Scribe comes clean on his addictions

Rapper Scribe
Rapper Scribe

Christchurch rapper Scribe has confessed to drugs, alcohol and gambling addictions, but says he is now clean.

The pressure went on the Christchurch rap star this week as his finances came under the spotlight over his debt to Christchurch pawnbroker Shane Lilley.

After The Press tried to contact him over the past five days he accused the newspaper of harassment, but last night gave an exclusive tell-all interview to TV3.

Lilley took 11 of Scribe's awards as security for a personal loan in October 2008. The pawnbroker held on to the awards for much longer than he was legally required to in the hope the rapper would pay the $5500 debt.

He finally put four of the certificates marking Scribe's platinum sales on Trade Me.

Last night they sold for: platinum, $1725 (Peter, of Paeroa, Waikato); double platinum, $1885 (Peter, Paeroa); triple platinum, $1610 (Greg, of Auckland); four-times platinum, $1609 (Greg, Auckland).

Scribe told TV3 he went to Lilley when he needed money and to prevent his family knowing.

His family had "cut me off from money" to stop him living a lifestyle of drugs, gambling and alcohol.

He said the wild times had led to his girlfriend leaving for Australia with their two children.

That was a wake-up call that encouraged him to give up the lifestyle, and "I got my family back".

"If it wasn't for my family and my kids I would still be caught in that rut ... I'm much wiser, much stronger and I know how to handle things better."

Every day was still a struggle, he said.

He wanted the awards back, but Lilley had asked for $8000 for what was originally a $1000 loan.

Lilley denied that last night, saying he quoted Scribe $5000.

"That was after two years," Lilley said. "He loaned between $200 and $300 on each award and I have 11 of them, so he borrowed about $2400.

"Our interest rate is 20 per cent per month. I think I only put on five or six months [worth of interest], and that was after two years.

"He's obviously had some problems and he's fessed up to them. Good luck to him in the future. I just wish he had called and saw me during the week. He's obviously in Christchurch."

Scribe had last been in touch in about May last year. He was happy to take the $5000 he was owed, plus auction expenses.

"Anything over the $5000 I'll give back to him, and the rest of the awards that I have. He's welcome to have them back," Lilley said.

Scribe fans will hope the latest interview will help him kickstart a career that has been in doldrums.

Music industry figures say his bid to raise money through a pawnbroker is a "very bad look" for a musician who promised much when he burst from obscurity in 2003 with his double-sided single, Not Many and Stand Up.

Scribe was a naive 24-year-old when he went from rags to riches almost overnight with his story-telling rap songs. He has often talked and written songs about his struggle with fame and success, but not his battle with drugs and gambling.

Many people were aware he enjoyed, until recently, a flutter on the gaming machines at the Christchurch Casino and The Wave Sports Bar in New Brighton, but only family and insiders knew of his addiction problems.

His debut album, Crusader, was released in October 2003 and reached platinum sales five times (about 85,000 sales) in New Zealand and 100,000 in Australia.

Big hits have been elusive since about 2004, and his 2007 album, Rhyme Book, received mixed reviews and fell far short of the success of Crusader.

He split from his record company, Dirty Records, about 18 months ago and is working towards his third album, Therapy.

Music industry sources said he was still a music celebrity but no longer a "bankable star".

The years 2007 and 2008 appear to have been particularly difficult for the shy rapper of Samoan stock who grew up in Phillipstown, Christchurch.

In 2007, a Christchurch finance company put a caveat on the house in New Brighton that his family trust bought in late 2005. The Press understands the debt was about $7000 and was paid by other parties after threats were made to go public about the debt. The caveat was removed four months after being registered.

The trustees of the family trust are Scribe, his manager, Theresa Patterson, and Auckland accountant John Burns.

A family live in the house but said they were Scribe's tenants.

Patterson has a close business relationship with Scribe, whose real name is Jeshua - the Aramaic name for Jesus - Ioane Luafutu. She is a director and shareholder of his two companies, Scribe Music and Scribe Touring.

In the past few years Scribe has been doing gigs in New Zealand and Australia and put out a few singles, usually in collaboration with other rap artists.

He has performed at benefit concerts for tsunami victims in Samoa and for those affected by the Canterbury earthquake.

He is short-tempered with critics and has resented accusations about an incident at a Christmas party after the 2004 Tui Awards when an Auckland student radio announcer, Phil Armstrong, was beaten by another rapper over a comment taken the wrong way. Armstrong needed dental reconstruction.

Scribe told the Sunday Star-Times in 2007: "People said I did it but it was actually [the rapper] and I pulled him off the guy. I tried to break it up."

Witnesses say Scribe could have done more to stop the violence.

In 2008, Scribe started a petty Twitter feud with Real Groove Magazine (since folded) editor Duncan Grieve in which he reacted to a less-than-flattering Grieve review of a Scribe/P-Money demo with the lines: "Duncan Grieve is going to get a good old-fashioned hiding" and "Grieve-ous bodily harm Samoan-style".

In August last year he tweeted a message about a near-death experience with a drink-driver in Auckland. "Few beers last nite, bacardis, Moet Chardon, QF shots unlimited, hit 2 clubs, got on the mic, had a car crash punched a guy in the face."

Lilley said he still had Scribe's award for best male artist at the 2008 Pacific Music Awards to sell.

He said Scribe's extended family had approached him to buy the certificates since the news about the Trade Me auction, but he had told them to get Scribe to contact him.

The Press