It’s been seven years since Auckland hip hop trio Team Dynamite’s last album Shepherd’s Delight, which was nominated for three Pacific Music Awards. The long-awaited follow up Respect The Process is out now on Tom Scott’s Years Gone By record label, and to accompany the release the label put out a short documentary, which goes into the group’s wayward younger years, and a disastrous gig that led to them hitting pause and taking time to regroup. Tony Stamp talked to Lucky Lance, Tony Teez, and Haz Beats, about their journey of self-discovery.
Team Dynamite (Tony Teez, Lucky Lance, Haz Beats) Photo: supplied
Tony Stamp: I watched the doco that Tom Scott put out, that goes into you guys dissolving. Lance, you mention dabbling in substances, and there was a gig in particular where you were drawing a blank on lyrics. You go on to say you had to ‘mend your life’, I wondered if you could tell me what that involved.
Lucky Lance: That was an absolute low for me personally. You see quotes all the time about being at the lowest point to be able to be able to grow from there. It’s what started my journey into myself, and the inner work, and what it takes to function properly.
I went to some pretty dark places after that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still on that journey, and I’m nowhere near the other side, but I have done a lot of work finding myself. After seeing that low I know what fills my tank, and what destructive behaviours I was doing to harm myself.
Tony Teez: Lucky was doing his self-discovery, but I guess we were all doing that. I had just finished a six year relationship, and at the time I was being self-destructive. These moments trigger things, and although that happened to Lucky, it could have been any one of us.
The universe just had its own view on how we needed to look after ourselves. We’re only getting older, but I think with that we get wiser, and we have a circle of people around us who keep us accountable.
LL: If people are asking ‘What is the self-work’: In the little space of time we’ve been rebuilding, I went to Peru and did ayahuasca, I went to India and sat in the Ganges River by myself. I did all these explorations and had a lot of realisations that were absolutely breakthrough for me, and helped me leave behind a lot of stuff that I was carrying.
It’s a new me that’s come back. I just focus my energy on love, pretty much. I’ve come out the other end a lover not a fighter.
TT: It’s quite cool that we’re talking about this right now, we’ve never really had this open dialogue about all of that, but you know, we’ve all been going through things, and had to process our own shit before we could even process Team Dynamite stuff.
TS: That is the vibe of the album, it’s full of these positive affirmations.
TT: Bruv, everything I had to write on it was written in that gnarly space. When I reflect on it and listen to it it’s so I could make sure I was OK, or strong. If you listen to ‘Dragon Fruit’, it sounds like a happy song, but what I’m actually talking about is the importance of self-care or you implode.
That’s exactly what I was going through and trying to recover from. Which is why I’m so proud of us, to overcome all of that and still be here.
In the documentary we all did our interviews separately, but the common thing that stood out for me when I watched it was the fact that we all spoke about brotherhood before music. I was like ‘Far out, that was cool’, that we all had the same outlook on what was important to us.
TS: I have a question for Haz: production-wise, are you keeping an ear out for specific types of samples, or does that stuff just happen along the way?
Haz Beats: When you’re making music you just fall into a vibe, and if everyone’s vibing, we just roll with it. It wasn’t just me picking samples and telling Lance ‘write to this’ – we all wrote on the day, or if Tony wasn’t around I’d give him the beat that me and Lance had been working on.
It wasn’t just me going ‘Here’s an expensive sample, let’s chop this up’. We just made the beat, vibed with it and ran with it. Didn’t know what would make the album but you know, you gotta respect the process.
TS: I wanted to talk about the track ‘Reason’, which is the oldest track here – it dates back to 2018. I thought I heard a repeating motif in some of the lyrics: ‘Gossip’ is an earlier track that isn’t on the album but is dealing with the same thing, which is people trying to influence you the wrong way.
I feel like that is a theme that comes up in a lot of these songs. Is that fair?
LL: I guess when you’re having the realisations that we are and doing the work, this is the stuff we’ve been living. Like you said earlier, the positive affirmations. And once you’re on that trajectory, you need to do these practices on a daily basis.
If you’re trying to change the subconscious programmes that have grown these bad habits, this is the kind of positivity we have to surround ourselves with and live with daily, and so yeah, right back to 2018 this is how we’ve been feeling.
But right from the get-go with Team Dynamite, even when we were young and dumb, we’ve always had something in our being that’s always done it for the ear of the next generation. That’s half the reason we got in the game.
At the time we were coming from being eighties babies and nineties children, and we could hear the changes on the radio of what was coming out. It was becoming ‘hip pop’ if you will, and early on we were like ‘we can’t just stand on the sidelines and talk about how bad it is, we have to get involved’. So right from the get-go we tried to have a message.
Team Dynamite Photo: Supplied
TS: Haz, I saw you tweet…
HB: Oh, don’t listen to my tweets man!
TS: You said “I’ve got heaps to say about this album but I’ll save it for a rainy day”.
HB: I’m just happy it’s out, man. We went through years of sitting down, like “Yeah, this is the album!”, then the next year doing the same thing. So to finally have it out was the best feeling. When it came out on vinyl, that was the happiest moment of my life.
LL: If the people knew how much we had to respect the process for this… It is no joke. Yeah, we had that low point, but for some strange reason the universe was really testing how much we respect the process, right up to those Covid lockdowns, and getting vinyl pressing done and having to pull it back.
Stuff was just falling though, right up to our album release on the fifth of March when we’d gone back into lockdown that week. We were cancelling and rearranging, but it was nothing to us, because we were numb to it almost coming out.
So when it did come out it was like the universe rewarding us, like ‘Ok we’ve settled everyone into their houses, and Covid is actually going to work for you guys and your release’. So yeah it was a nice finish.
TT: We pretty much have our doctorates in respecting the process.