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PNC is at the top of his game right now – and there’s little anyone can do to stop him

After dropping one of the most underrated releases in the country last year, PNC has stepped his game up once again with his new single ‘Iverson 01’. As Hussein Moses writes, not only is it one of the most exciting moments in New Zealand rap’s recent history, it’s also managed to spark the beginning of an all-out rap feud.

Right now, PNC is bar-for-bar in the best shape of his life. He knows it too. “Lyrically, I think I hit another level,” he told Sam Wicks last year. “That’s why I’ve been putting out these long raps because I have a hunger and passion and every bar is something special. I’m just as inspired as or more inspired than I was. I’m operating higher than I ever have. People will say ‘where have you been?’ – then that fuels me. I haven’t gone anywhere, y’know? I’m still doing it.”

It’s a pretty damn accurate way to describe where he’s at over 10 years into his career. The Luke Vailima EP was one of 2016’s best local releases, yet it somehow flew completely under the radar. The record would end up being nominated for Best Urban/Hip-Hop Album alongside efforts from Aaradhna and SWIDT at the New Zealand Music Awards, but it was basically doomed to be forgotten when Aaradhna hijacked the entire show with an explosive speech after being announced as the winner. It was no doubt a touching moment when, instead of accepting the award, she gave it away to SWIDT, but at the same time it was tough not to wonder how it felt to be the one guy left on the sideline.

Perhaps it was just fuel to the fire. ‘Iverson 01’, released earlier this week, is one of the most exciting moments in New Zealand rap’s recent history and it should do away with any questions of whether PNC’s run last year was just a hot streak. It’s the first release since that last EP and the next in line when it comes to his excellent series of sports-themed tracks – including ‘Tua 96’, ‘Sonny Bill 04’ and ‘Jonah 95’ – all of which double as metaphors for being at the very top of his game. Like those that came before it, the song is endlessly quotable and forever repeatable. This is his heat check and he’s draining 40-footers like it’s no big deal.

For the NBA-illiterate, ‘Iverson 01’ makes reference to the then-MVP Allen Iverson who basically dragged the Philadelphia 76ers to the NBA Finals all on his own. More specifically, it’s about one perfect moment of utter dominance and complete disrespect that will forever be immortalised in basketball history.

Here, watch it for yourself.

No one wants to end up as the guy that got stepped over. That much should be obvious to anyone that watches. But it’s also what makes ‘Iverson 01’ so intriguing: since it dropped, the song has seemingly sparked an all-out rap feud with local rapper Sesh who hit back with a diss song of his own a day after the track was released. Sesh, who used to go by the name Derty Sesh, is no stranger to controversy. In 2010 he found himself caught up in the fallout from his taxpayer-funded music video after it was pulled due to complaints of “extreme misogyny”.

Sesh has spent the time since sharpening his own rhymes and although he manages to sneak in a couple of jabs throughout the song, he’s not quite up there with his nemesis. It’s like the McGregor vs. Mayweather fight all over again. An entertaining battle, no doubt, but when all is said and done the odds only favour one man. Whether this marks the end of it, or just the beginning, is anyone’s guess. For PNC, it’s a hell of a run either way.


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