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Ladi6 (Photo: FIRST)
Ladi6 (Photo: FIRST)

Pop CultureJune 30, 2021

The gig that changed Ladi6’s life

Ladi6 (Photo: FIRST)
Ladi6 (Photo: FIRST)

Ladi6 tells us about her first paid gig, a racist dog, Hammer pants and more in the latest episode of FIRST.

Ladi6 was just 16 when she formed Sheelahroc with Voodoo Child and cousin Tyra Hammond in their hometown of Christchurch in 1999. When the groundbreaking all-female hip hop crew were nominated for a bNet award for their single ‘If I Gave U Th’ Mic’, they were so young that Ladi’s mum had to accompany them to the ceremony.

So when Ladi6 says she knew she wanted to make music for a living from an early age, she’s not lying. The moment that sealed it for her came after a gig one Waitangi Day in New Brighton. “I think we did something like 10 minutes, or maybe even less – we only had three songs,” she remembers. When they came off stage, the group were paid for their performance: $300, in cash.

“I just remember flicking through that as a teenager and just being like, ‘Are you kidding?’ Like, I would have done that for free,” Ladi6 says. “I will do this forever,” she remembers thinking. “As long as I can.”

And she has, releasing three albums as a solo artist – Time Is Not Much, The Liberation of… and Automatic – as well as countless side projects and collaborations with artists like Shapeshifter, Fat Freddy’s Drop and Opensouls. In this year’s Queen’s Birthday honours list, Ladi6 was named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to music, an acknowledgement of a career that now spans more than two decades.

Ladi6 is touring New Zealand this July. For dates and tickets visit

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This episode of FIRST was made with the support of NZ On Air

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