Dunedin-based rap artist TîMMY the FIRST is dropping his debut single this Friday. ‘THRONE’ is a statement piece that embodies Timmy’s strong energy, and how that energy has been challenged by the world around him.
Stirred by ongoing international protests, ‘THRONE’ was written as a frenetic and charged response to the injustices perpetrated against people of colour. “It's hard watching people who look like you being treated that way,” says Timmy, “I felt angry, tired, frustrated, I felt like maybe people like me could never be heard.”
Alongside producer Abraham Kunin, Timmy poured his years of performing experience into a track that’s as powerful as it is therapeutic. ‘THRONE’ is a culmination of Timmy’s experience in the Dunedin music scene, redirecting his infectious energy into a track that protests injustice and inaction within the same breath.
Born in Zimbabwe, and first moving to New Zealand at age five, Timmy’s background is defined by a conflicted sense of belonging. “I didn’t really encounter anyone that looked like me [in New Zealand],” he notes, “It was tough being an outsider, subconsciously accepting that I was lesser because of my ethnicity.”
Spending much of his early schooling as the only African immigrant in his class, Timmy started to hate his own skin. “There were times I wished I was white,” he admits, “just so I wouldn’t have to try so hard to fit in.” It wasn’t until his parents’ missionary work took them to North America that Timmy met others like him.
“After traveling the world, I encountered other Africans, other races. I met people who were proud of their skin, people who were happy to be who they are,” he says, “Canada was the first place other than Zimbabwe where I could forget the colour of my skin.”
It was through this newfound sense of community that Timmy found another way to connect: music. “I had people that looked like me that I could look up to,” he notes, “a lot of which were basketball players or hip hop artists, so that got me into basketball and hip hop.”
“It was so cool to tell people about an amazing person that looked like me.”
It wasn’t long before Timmy was constructing verses and free-styling with friends. Despite being told by those around him that hip hop was “bad music,” the pull Timmy felt towards the genre was impossible to ignore.
Timmy would soon return to New Zealand to finish high school and enroll in university. Confronting his previous feelings of isolation, Timmy recognized that the lack of African-Kiwi role models had been a shadow over his childhood. Informed by his experiences overseas, the importance of representation became immediately clear.
“Because there aren’t a lot of people to look up to, a lot of African immigrants in New Zealand conform to the American lifestyle,” he suggests, “it feels foreign, and it’s a culture that doesn’t end up accepting us back.”
With ‘THRONE,’ Timmy hopes to reach others like him and explore what it means to be African in New Zealand.
“I hope I can be a part of a movement with my fellow creatives and high achievers to mold that image of what it means to be an African-Kiwi.”
THRONE is available to stream on December 3rd, 2021.