Intersections of Art and Science

A Climate Change Poem Turned Hip-Hop Song – Whakaata Māori

Screenshot featuring poet Audrey Brown-Pereira and hip-hop artist Anonymouz from "They taking pictures of us in the water" Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) via Youtube)
Screenshot featuring poet Audrey Brown-Pereira and hip-hop artist Anonymouz from "They taking pictures of us in the water" Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) via Youtube)

Based on poetry by Audrey Brown-Pereira, a hip-hop version of ‘They Taking Pictures of Us in the Water’ premiered at the Moana Blue Pacific Pavilion for COP28.

“Hip-hop being a voice for the voiceless, this was an opportunity for me to give a voice for the environment.”

These are the words of Producer, Faiumu Matthew Salapu (Anonymouz), when he was asked to turn a poem about climate change into a hip-hop song.

Pacific hip-hop artists, poets, and dancers have remixed poetry by Audrey Brown-Pereira “They Taking Pictures of Us in the Water”.

Brown-Pereira attended the launch of the song at COP 28 in the UAE, a track to connect people globally towards the urgency of staying below a 1.5°C global temperature, to avoid dangerous climate change impacts.

“You had all ages rocking back and forth and as someone involved, it took me back.

Miss Samoa had a youth event and it had all these Pacific youth as well as delegates throughout the world present and when that poem came on I got all these ‘Oh Aunty can you give me the link, that was really cool,” says Brown-Pereira.

An agreement in Paris in 2018 from world leaders was made to keep global temperatures from increasing above 1.5°C.

Creative director, Anonymouz was unaware of this until hearing the poem so he thought the song would be a great vehicle for hip-hop to shine awareness on this.

He touched on how much effort Samoans put in to wave their flags for their national teams and would like to see the same for climate change.

“It’s all good to be proud 685 (Samoas area code) to the world, but you’re going to have no 685 to go to in the future if we don’t address these things.”

The song was launched at the Moana Blue Pacific Pavillion, which was the base for all Pacific leaders who attended on behalf of their countries.

The artistry of male vocalists is counter-balanced with fierce women’s representation through taupou (female dancers) and women’s siva afi (fire dancers).

Brown-Pereira says this was a requirement for the video clip.

“There were two things I asked Matthew (Anonymouz) to keep that it had to retain feminine elements and it also had to use elements of my voice to sample.

Beyond that, it was his gift to explore using his talents and look at what he came up with, I’m so proud.”

Anonymouz who was also the Music Producer saw this creative exercise as a rewarding challenge.

“I heard her poem and I was like ‘I’m in, this is ticking so many boxes for me in terms of exploring our culture, exploring a kaupapa that’s very important to us all, exploring creative artistry in terms of not only but the music production and the visual production.

From the outset, it was all go…”

Pacific Regional Environment Programme (12-01-2023):
They taking pictures of us in the water

Poetry written by Audrey Brown-Pereira

Performed by Rizván, Snare, Sven Illy, Judah Kidd, Illseff, Snowman

Video Extras: Ark, Jsas, Arcadiah & Skylahr Faiumu featuring poetry performed by Audrey Brown-Pereira Produced by 37Hz

It takes a village to raise a child and this version of Audrey Brown-Pereira’s poem “they taking picture of us in the water” is such an example of the Pasifika community of creatives from hip hop artists, poets and dancers coming together for a common cause to raise the global consciousness on the impacts of climate change on our Pacific people.

The collaboration led by Anonymouz in the form of a call and response to Audrey’s poem is recognition of the power of music and the universal impact of Hip Hop, which in 2023 celebrates its 50th anniversary. This new version of “they taking pictures of us in the water” in the form of poetry, Hip Hop, dance and digital artistry is a creative collaboration of galaxies to connect people on a global level to the urgency of climate change.


Also of Interest:

Pacific Cooperation Foundation (12-03-2023):
COP28 Dubai, UAE with Audrey Brown-Pereira

Commonwealth Foundation Creatives (06-30-2022):
“they taking pictures of us in the water” by Audrey Brown-Pereira


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