The set-up is elegantly simple: four MCs, one mic, one studio. 64 Bars is a project formulated in 2015 by David Dallas and Red Bull Studios Auckland, where handpicked MCs hit the booth and lay down ‘64 bars’. Straight raps - no hooks, no bells or whistles.
Dallas’ long-time collaborator PNC, Papatoetoe’s Lukan Raisey, from MASO Gang, and newcomer Josh Lane formed the starting line-up in 2015 - setting the bar in an on-going series at the Studio. This year Dallas bridged the South Pacific, enlisting in respected Brooklyn-based MC Talib Kweli for today’s first video clip. Talib Kweli earned his stripes as one of the most lyrically-gifted, socially aware and politically insightful rappers to emerge in the past two decades.
“I’ve always liked hearing an artist go into a radio show - kick a new verse on air, and kill it. Overseas there’s things like Sway’s 5 Fingers of Death freestyles or Charlie Sloth’s Fire in the Booth. We didn’t really have an outlet like that in New Zealand anymore, so we created one.”
After nearly 20 years of releasing mesmerizing music, Talib Kweli stands as one of the world’s most talented and accomplished Hip Hop artists. Whether working with Mos Def as one-half of Black Star, partnering with producer Hi-Tek for Reflection Eternal, releasing landmark solo material or collaborating with Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, Just Blaze, J Dilla, or Madlib, Kweli commands attention by delivering top-tier lyricism, crafting captivating stories and showing the ability to rhyme over virtually any type of instrumental.
Dallas states; “It's important that MC's coming up have a standard they can look to and a platform to showcase it. This is strictly about the craft of rapping - not songwriting, or music videos, or dressing up for Instagram. We’re going to throw a beat on and they’re going to spit. Anybody can muck around and come up with a lil 16 - but you’ve got to be serious to come with a 64 bar verse, you've got to be good to carry that.”
64 Bars takes things back to basics. It’s a chance to hear established artists flex the skills that got them there, and to locate who’s next up on NZ’s rap radar - presenting them with a raw, undiluted format to have their voices heard. Over the next few weeks on redbullstudios.com, we will witness a handpicked selection of local artists following Talib Kweli with their take of 64 Bars.
“After the way the first series was embraced, it's been pretty evident these dudes are not playing when they come in here. A-game's all round. I think people are gonna be impressed with where the level's at"