The first thing you need to know about Dei Hamo is that the name roughly translates to ‘The Samoan’ – it isn’t his real name at all (that would be Sanerivi Sagala).
The second thing is that Dei Hamo didn’t have a second album, didn’t have continued success, just this album – First Edition – and a handful of singles, despite 2 wins/3 nominations at the NZ Music Awards in 2005 and 2 wins/4 nominations at the Pacific Music Award in 2005-2006.
It would be easy to dismiss Dei Hamo as a one-hit wonder based on the success of “We Gon Ride” compared to anything else he did. But there is nothing on First Edition to indicate that he didn’t deserve more recognition. Musically, the album taps into the 2005 zeitgeist – think the humour and production of Black Eyed Peas, the beats of Rihanna and 50 Cent – highlights like “To Tha Floor!” sounds at home next to 2005’s biggest sellers Savage, Snoop Dogg, The Game, and Nelly.
The album is presented with a tongue firmly in its cheek, Sagala placing himself as the hip-hop class clown despite an obvious wealth of talent. Openers “To Tha Floor!” and “Make It Hot” are clever and funny; things get a bit more serious before the arrival of “We Gon Ride” in the middle of the album. The back half loses momentum despite a decent appearance from Boh Runga on “Home Invasion” and a well-placed Tim Finn sample on “Cry Again”.
Looking back from seventeen years in the future, First Edition is a surprisingly good album and captures the period beautifully.
CLTM (Chris Listens To Music) is my attempt to listen to a new album every day; you can follow my efforts on Instagram here (and send recommendations), and if you like what I’m doing, support my efforts by shouting me a cuppa at Buy Me A Coffee.