Sunday, 15 February 2015

Suamalie / I Ain't Mad At You. . .

This blog post is dedicated to +Anthony Faitaua 

Tha Feelstyle burst onto the scene in 2004 with this very important track.  It's important because it  enjoyed funding from NZ on Air at the time of its release (but that's not what makes it important) and as one reviewer rightly pointed out, not since the release of Moana and the Moahunters (now Moana and The Tribe) had funding been provided to an artist for a non-English single release.  As a practising ethnomusicologist, the importance of indigenous languages featured in music is a huge plus for me :-)  Feelstyle's new album is in the process of launching.  No doubt he will be eligible for the Pacific Music Awards as entries close on Monday 16th February in Aotearoa - an opportunity for Pacific Island musicians to have their music celebrated.

The track talks about things that are "sweet" or suamalie in not only the Samoan way of life - fa'aSamoa - but Feelstyle also hints at the development of music, evolving out of the traditional music that our Samoan elders and chiefs still hold close to their hearts and revere, due to the rise of technology (but also Western influence as well).

What I like most about the track is his flow, his commentary on how he positions himself as an MC, the activities he involves himself as well trying to convince a woman that he must be seeing (who suspects he is cheating), but the situation is quickly rectified when he assuages her by saying that the other woman is in fact, his sister.  These references feel like they are tongue-in-cheek but refer to the casual way of life, that carefree way of living that diaspora communities assume the motherland to have.

Samoa silasila o le a faafiafia le faaili lauiloa DJ Raw. FeelstyleSuamalie pea mea uma ilaila
Silasila emoemo mai pea ole uila
Matagi afa ma timuga ou te le ila
E le mafaia ona e mafaia musika
Faatalia lava oukou ma ‘kou ika
Sei’a ave esi o’u kei e fa’asiva
Mumu mata pei ua loiloi masima
E o’ona ae suamalie pe a ila
Suamalie pei o teine o le teuila
Suga ‘aua fua ete ika o la’u sister
Suamalie nei ā mea uma e le’i pisa
Miki ma pasipasi mai i o’u lima
Ua e silafia ea - suga ete faia lava mea e oso ai lo’u valea
Ona ou tago lea e kalepe faapea
Kalepe mole auala kele minoi minoi mai
Musika le poipoi, suamalie lava pea mea uma
Auoi auoi o lo’u ma’oi
E na suga ea, sasa lou fika suga ea  

The verse seems to be centred on making a dig about the King Kapisi track Screems from the old plantation particularly in the red lines below.  There is criticism in the idea that when people overdo things, it can detract from any true meaning or genuine purpose.  There is still sweetness in the sight to behold when we eat, we can wrap it up like a cigarette, or there is still sweetness when it is fried, music for the mind.  There seems to be reference to there being no sweetness when you are premature in your approach, think of it as involving yourself too closely in matters that don't concern you.  

Suamalie mai pea le olioli
Ua olioli mea uma lava ile vaai
Suamalie foi le vaai pe a aai
Saisai pei ole pepa ta’ai
Se’e le faiai osooso fia ai
Fua ile fa’aosoosoga e agasala ai
Se vaai lou paopao ke’i ua moko ile kai
Tagi faafe’ai pusa apa kalu ai
Faifai pea faapea ou ke kea iai
Le laulaufaiva e vaai sau iai
Sōsō mai la’ia sau iai
Nofo i lalo sole pe ā e lē mafai
Siva mai sivasiva mai siva mai
A va’ava’ai mea leaga so’ona ai
Suamalie pea o ia pe ā falai
Musika mole fai’ai se’i tagai
Le a’ano ole ta’aloga ne’i pa’i le lē iai
Tago fua i ai, e le kaikai se

He also makes mention of women in the song, the nature of relationships with women, in particular the dynamics of heterosexual relationships, that despite all of the mistrust and possible philandering ways, that everything is sweet in the end.  You can almost be forgiven to harking to Beyonce's Drunk in love with the idea of the music being so sweet that you are drunk or intoxicated.

The music video gives the viewer a great introduction into the Samoan way of life, particularly with the discussion that Feelstyle has with the two chiefs about the old songs and the new songs.  It also highlights the importance of family and the different places that are of note to the artist.  It has been mentioned in a previous review at the time of release that the Samoa Tourism Board should've used this song to advertise Samoa to the rest of the globe.  It certainly achieved that status in Aotearoa.

E lafo maia le faiai ua le lava le onosai
(Sole) tago i luma ma totogi le fa’ifa’i ……..
(Sole) O ai sia teine foilole, suga suga, se ‘aua ete popole
E pau lava o a’u lava tala molemole
Maimoa mai ae se’i ou sasaga ile ofe
Gutu kopekope, ua la’ia a o sa’a le tini apa,
Tini apa ma-si se sasa
Suamalie pea mea uma (e a suga)
Suamalie pea mea uma (o le ā sasa)
Sa’asa’a mai loa ma lau pepa mo sau sapa
Suga, faasavili mai lou fika e fa’aala
La’ala’a mai fa’i ua vave mai kua
‘Aua se te sela, ne’i uma taamilosaga
Tuliususū pei o le polo ma kiki le pa faga
Tau i le ua le suamalie le musika
Pele faia mai male au fitafita

This final section shows a clever use of interweaving two completely different sections, much like how people try to do mashups on the internet, but this example succeeds where others have failed (and it's not intended to be a mashup).  The lyrics in this speech section make me laugh because they could be phrases that you would hear at a Samoan social or function when alcohol brings out "your mates" (I'm referring to your "inner friends", who once affected by the over-consumption of alcohol, tend to surface).

O le ā le mea?  O le ā mea ua e faapenā ai ou fela ā?
O oe ea, ua e fia tama leaga ā? Ā? 
Ua e fia tama leaga ma lou siva ā?
Ua e fia tama leaga ma lou la’ala’a ā? E fai faapenā a?
O le fia tama leaga ma le ula mai o lou kapa’a a?
Ia toe sasa mai le ta lipine, ia

I hope that you consider listening to more indigenous music in your part of the world, or music that actively uses the heritage language to showcase the music of the artist.  I am a proud advocate and fan of my own mother tongue - gagana Samoa.  I have endeavoured to always speak it in all traditional contexts and also use it in other work and social contexts that allow for the opportunities for this expression.  Even when people try to discourage the use of my language (or any indigenous language for that matter), I still hold strong to my language that defines me.

I ain't mad at you, you
I've got too much time to lose, wasting over you
I ain't mad at you, you
I ain't mad at you, you. . .