An Auckland street gang which has formed a rap label is trying to make a name for itself by starting a feud with pioneering hip-hop entrepreneurs Dawn Raid.
The Killer Beez, South Auckland's most visible street gang, has set up a recording studio and released a CD, "Skull Fingers Up", under the name Colourway Records. One of the songs is a "diss track" insulting fellow South Aucklanders Dawn Raid, New Zealand's most prominent hip-hop label.
Colourway has also produced a music video, "Put Your Colours On", which has been viewed more than 80,000 times on YouTube, and which police view as virtually a recruitment video for the gang.
The video features Sidney "Young Sid" Diamond, one of local hip-hop's biggest success stories of the moment. In Focus this week, Diamond, who is not a member of the Killer Beez but has family ties to the gang, talks about his involvement.
Dawn Raid co-founder Danny "Brotha D" Leaosavai'i said he wasn't bothered by the diss track, which had made Dawn Raid an object of ridicule among Colourway's fans, who were posting insulting messages about the label on the internet.
"If people want to target us because we've been doing this for a long time, so be it," he said.
Feuds, or "beefs", are a long-standing part of American hip-hop culture, with verbal hostilities sometimes spilling over into physical conflicts. Up-and-coming rappers often target established artists in order to gain attention.
"Who's the easiest target out there?" Leaosavai'i said. "There's no beef on our part. We do what we do."
Dawn Raid rapper Mark "Mareko" Sagapolutele said it was disappointing that the insults had become personal, as some of the rappers on the Colourway diss track were graduates of a music course run by Dawn Raid.
"Hip hop is built on battles but when it gets personal, it's no good," he said. "We live in a little neighbourhood."
The Killer Beez was formed in Otara five years ago as a "feeder gang" providing prospects to the Tribesmen motorcycle gang and has expanded its influence through Auckland and Northland.
The gang was allegedly involved in an Otara tinny house shooting last month. It was also reported one of the youths charged with cowardly attacks on couples on Auckland's North Shore last month had a family connection to a Killer Beez recruiter.
- Sunday Star Times