In the new series Final Mix, music journalist Yadana Saw chats with local musicians and listens to their latest tracks in the ultimate testing ground: the car. The second episode is with young-gun hip-hop duo Church & AP.
Their first big single, ‘Ready or Not’, dropped early last year. Almost immediately, Elijah Manū (Church) and Albert Purcell (AP) shot to the top of NZ’s hip hop charts and tastemakers’ lists. In just a few months they’d toured London, LA and Amsterdam. They came home in time to headline Auckland local music festival The Others Way in August, playing to a rain-drenched crowd of jumping hipsters before performing to 30,000 campers at the infamous summer festival Rhythm and Vines.
Church & AP have both breadth and depth of appeal, winning over critics and the masses alike. The two bandmates weren’t close before teaming up to make ‘Ready or Not’, but on making that track, they realised combining their individual musical styles was a winning formula. Last year’s 10-track album, Teeth, was a no-skip mélange of bops. It’s hip hop tinged in places with modern house, old school R&B, ballroom, and some grungier trap.
Church & AP were nominated for breakthrough artist of the year at last year’s Vodafone Music Awards, and since then they’ve well and truly broken through. They’ve crushed it on radio and torn up dance floors. Their latest track, ‘Aston Martin’, is another in a rapidly growing list of smash hits. It’s an ode to 2000s R&B, with musical and lyrical nods to Busta Rhymes’ and Mariah Carey’s ‘I Know What You Want’ and Kelis and Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s ‘Baby, I Got Your Money’.
Church & AP play with voices as much as beats. On ‘Moneytalk’ they pitched down producer Soraya La Pread to sound like a man. On ‘Aston Martin’ Church pitches up his typical falsetto to sing the hook in character as a car-loving party girl.
When the Covid-19 crisis reached pandemic level, music was one of the most rapidly affected industries. With shows cancelled and studios off-limits, there’s not a lot of money to be made; but the show must go on. Church & AP jumped on the Down Bad Challenge, a freestyle challenge started in Australia set to the Downbad beat by Dreamville. Church featured on one of Melodownz’s isolation cyphers, spitting some freestyles with Diggy Dupe and dharmarat. He’s also been watching The Godfather a lot.
The duo has been prolific over the past year, and the only thing slowing them down during lockdown will be a painstaking game of Monopoly.
In the second episode of Final Mix, Church & AP talk about where they’ve seen an Aston Martin in the wild, what they do on stage when the other one is having a turn on the mic, and how to win over a love interest by keeping tabs on their Spotify plays.
They also talk through ‘Aston Martin’ with Yadana, explaining how they took Y2K influences to develop their own YKK style. It has electric guitar riffs, lyrics about Star Wars, and a bouncy bassline underneath. Like the entirety of Teeth, ‘Aston Martin’ is inspired, hectic, and really fun. Lockdown or not, budding hip hop savants Church & AP are here for a good time.
Final Mix is made with the support of NZ On Air.