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image Ladi6 Image: Garth Badger
Born and raised in Christchurch and of Samoan descent, Karoline Tamati dropped out of high school and never finished jazz school. Twenty years into her career as Ladi6 she has not only forged herself a genre but paved the way for other artists.
In 1999 at the age of 16 Ladi6 made her first foray into the entertainment industry, forming a musical group called Sheelahroc with her cousin Tyra Hammond and Sarah Tamaira. Their single ‘If I Gave U Th’ Mic’ won most new promising act at the 2001 bNet NZ Music Awards, organised by the New Zealand student radio network.
She worked with fellow local act – Shapeshifter – before working with Scribe. She credits Scribe for helping her to build her profile. “He took me on tour with him around Australia and New Zealand and an iconic show in Samoa that the head of state and Prime Minister attended. He was my absolute idol. I watched him slay crowds of 30,000 at festivals and have a ball. He is a magnetic, mesmerising performer that I liked to emulate in every way as a rapper. He changed the face of hip hop in Australasia and I was lucky to be right there with him to witness it all.” She also featured on his song ‘So Nice’ off his 2003 debut album The Crusader.
Her 2008 debut solo album Time Is Not Much, established what would become a long-term line-up of her group, with her now-husband Brent Park, drummer Julien Dyne, Brandon Haru (keyboards) and Steve Roberts (sound). Time Is Not Much was produced by Parks and Mu, through London-based BBE Records.
The follow-up album, 2010’s The Liberation Of …, spent 34 weeks in the Top 40 in New Zealand, entering at No.6 and was certified gold. The single ‘Like Water’ spent 22 weeks in the NZ Top 40 Singles Chart and was certified gold.The Liberation Of… took out the 2011 Taite Music Prize; in the same year she won five New Zealand Music Awards including best female solo artist, best urban/hip hop album and best Pacific female artist.

In July 2018 Ladi6 took her Royal Blue 3000 EP on tour, calling it the Outta Time tour. For the first time, she performed in the small towns of New Zealand. Ladi6 hand-picked the women who played alongside her – JessB, Bailey Wiley and Silva MC – based on their outstanding talent. In late 2018 she is on a European and UK tour with Fat Freddy’s Drop and returning for the New Zealand summer festival circuit.

In October 2018 Ladi6 released ‘Diagonals’, a new single in advance of her fourth full album, planned for release in 2019.

In 2021 Karoline Tamati was named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to music.

(Text courtesy AudioCulture)

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