Ink Series – Kas Futialo

Kas & Ddot

Kas Futialo (left) holding the Tui (NZ Music award for Best Pacific Island album) with the bro David Dallas holding his Best Pacific Island Male artist award.  Photograph courtesy of Ana Faatoia of A Faatoia Fotography

Kas ‘Tha Feelstyle’ Futialo  is the coolest Samoan language MC I know and an award winning one at that.

He took rapping in his own native tongue to mainstream New Zealand with his catchy, groundbreaking single “Suamalie/I ain’t mad at you” which is a mean feat in itself because 99% of Samoan language rappers only get played on the island radio stations like 531PI or on those awesome fob mixtapes that your cousins send you from Samoa lol

His album “Break it to Pieces” won 4 awards including the Tui (NZ Music award) for best album design, and Pacific Island Music awards for Best Pacific Hip Hop artist, Male artist and Song in 2005.  His most recent album “Good Morning Samoa” got good radio play on the island stations with his song “La’u Rosa” featuring Jerome Grey being the most popular.  The album won Best Language Album award at the Pacific Island Music Awards last May and he also won the Tui for Best Pacific Island Album at the Vodafone NZ Music awards at the end of last year.

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Award winning album cover for “Break it to Pieces”

He explained to me that his English language albums are released under his stage name “Tha Feelstyle” and his Samoan language albums are released under his government name “Kas Futialo”.  He said he has received a lot of good response to his Samoan language tracks and that the older generation find them humorous.  He initially started off MC’ing in the Samoan language mostly due to it being new & unique and he also found that he wasn’t so restricted with words and lines.

My personal favourite single “Sometime when it rains” featuring Adeaze will feature on his next English language album which he is hoping to release in May and will be a follow up to “Break it to Pieces” (check out both videos – which I love because they have so many great shots of Samoa – after the jump)

When I posted up on Devolo in my first ever Ink Series feature – I had asked him if he knew of any other guys that had stories behind their ink and he gave me 2 names:  Ezra Taylor (who I’ve already featured here) and Kas Futialo.

Suhweet!  I had met Ezra and knew how to get hold of him but I didn’t know Kas and for some reason I thought he still lived in Wellington so had pretty much discounted him as being a possible feature.  (Welly is a 6 – 7 hour drive away for anyone reading this NOT from NZ)

I had kind of forgotten about even trying to get hold of Kas to be in the Ink Series until out of the blue I ended up meeting him!  One of my besties Vanu had asked if I’d like to come with her to Devolo & his fellow Deceptikonz member,  Savages New Years gig.  Kas was also there to support Volo which then resulted in us meeting.  Volo was pretty excited that we were both there at the same time and he was like Penz!  Kas is here!  I’ll ask if he’s cool to be in your Ink Series –Shot!  just like that tikae!  lol!

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Devolo and Kas at the New Years gig in Mt Wellington 2012

Aanywaaaaaays that wasn’t New Years just gone that was New Years 2012 lol but hey!  All good things take time right?

I had to do a bit of a reshoot of Volos tattoos for his feature & we met up at our friend Dei Hamos house to take the pics – turned out Kas lives with Hamo – even better!  Got to shoot them both at the same time ha!  Volo bro I really hope you’re still moisturising because like Hamo said moisturiser IS your friend lol!

Since then, Kas has been patiently waiting ….. and waiting ….. and waiting lolz!  BUT he gets to be the first Ink Series post for 2013 so hopefully that makes up for the wait AND my blonde moments along the way eg interviewing him and thinking I was videoing the whole IV on my MacbookPro only to discover it had just taped the first 5 minutes and we’d talked for over an hour zzzzzZZZZZZ!!  Thank the Lord I had written most of the tattoo descriptions down with good old pen & paper!! oh and then taking a whole bunch of pics of him with his PI Music Award and then my hard-drive corrupting and losing the pics (somebody shoot me now lol!)   Shouts to Ana Faatoia for letting me use her pics from the actual night of the PI Music awards!

Ps – I’d also like to mention that Kas makes a really mean mince dish!  He cooked me dinner even heeeeeeeeeey! Lol!  (nah not really – I just happened to bowl on over when the guys were about to eat haha)

So now that we’ve got Kas’ achievements and my fails out of the way lets get on to his ink!  I gotta say that when Volo told me Kas has a map of his village on his arm I was expecting it to be like the NZ map that Volo has on his arm (pic below)

Volo in the “Not Many the Remix ” video with his tattoo of the map of New Zealand on his arm

But no – it’s actually really unique in that it tells the history of Kas’ village – Lotoso’a in Saleimoa, Upolu, Samoa and gives you a visual of how the village is laid out.  I’ve actually been to Saleimoa recently – I was there in September last year when my Nana died and had, had to drive my Nanas brothers widow back to their house and it was in Saleimoa so when I was writing this out I could picture everything in my head which was kinda trippy!  Her house is up behind the church and kind of in the middle of the plantations!

Kas designed the piece himself and got it tattooed 6 years ago.  It was done by 2 people.  He had firstly drawn it on with pen himself and the top half of it was done in Samoa by Masua Masua of Urban Village Tattoos and the bottom half of it was done in NZ by Little Mike – in his words its just a home/garage job.  His design is tattooed on what Kas calls his creative hand (writing & drawing).  Kas is not only a talented writer and MC he has also exhibited his art with a couple of artists – Siliga and Courtney Meredith – they all had one thing in common – hand tattoos.

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Poles, skulls & church symbols represented here

The designs on his fingers represent the poles situated at the front of his village as well as the 4 graves which are also out the front.  There is one church in his village – the catholic church and this is represented by the fish symbols

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Faleo’o X Tha Feelstyle logo/symbol

Behind the graves is what Samoans call the faleo’o (translation small house) and this is also Kas’ symbol or logo for “Tha Feelstyle” because he was born in a faleo’o.

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Plantation X Centipede X Sea X Mountain patterns        

The patterns that go up and around his arm from where the faleo’o symbol ends represents the plantation.

There are banana leaf symbols and the jagged legs represents the centipede.  It is also a common symbol in Polynesia for the eldest child.  Kas is the eldest child and the eldest grandchild of Futialo Levi, who was the High Chief of his village.  The sea is also represented in the patterns towards the top.  The sea is directly across the road from their village & is not good for swimming until you go further out.  People going past in canoes are always seen from the village as they go out fishing.

Mountain symbols represent Savai’i (Samoa is made up of 2 main islands – Savai’i and Upolu.  Savai’i is the larger of the 2 islands.  Upolu is the smaller island and where the capital Apia and the international airport is located)  Next door to Kas’ village is Leauva’a which is the village that when Mt Matavanu in Savai’i errupted, all the people in the affected village fled in canoes to Upolu and settled in Leauva’a – hence the name which means “People of the Boat” and links in with the canoe symbols in Kas’ tattoo.

The top half of his tattoo shows all different parts of the Samoan culture – pe’a (Samoan traditional tattoo), weaving and Kas feels that Savaii is where the Samoan culture is strongest.  His great grandmother comes from Sapapali’i (Malietoa family).  For him the sennit and weaving symbolises holding the culture together.

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Traditional pe’a X Weaving/Sennit patterns 

The inside of his arm are traditional pe’a patterns.

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After life X Pulotu 

The patterns on the inside of his wrist & arm represents Pulotu (Samoan for the place where the spirit of their ancestors goes to die and be free)  It is an ancient legendary place but there’s also an actual place that represents this in Savai’i.  The small arrows going through the passage represents the spirit leaving.

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Teuila

The designs round his elbow carries on from the more cultural & traditional designs towards the top of his arm and the arrow symbols are similar to the Teuila (Samoa’s national flower)

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Nifo Oti 

On the side of his hand is the symbol for the nifo oti (Knife) that the taupou (young virgin girl or the daughter of the high chief) dances with & the fue which is used in Samoan culture by the Talking Chief.  Kas explained that his great Grandfather preferred to do this himself rather than the taupou when visitors came.

Wow!  So interesting and detailed!!  Thanks for sharing your ink stories with me Kas!

Me: Anything coming up for Tha Feelstyle in 2013?

Kas:  Im sharing the same stage with ‘ Wahwah ‘ White in Wellington on February the 16th on Cuba st  and that will be the first gig for 2013.  Right now Im in the Keila Record studio finishing up my long awaited Feelstyle Album with my uso (brother) Vicktor Keil . IM SO SO EXCITED about creating an English album of this freshness  so I expect to let it out of its cage around the end of May lol!  What i can tell you  is the first song off this album will drop before the end of Feb, so for all my Feelstyle fans …..  the wait is over haha and I promise I will continue to keep it fresh and sexy lol

Meanaaaaah!

And as promised here’s Kas’ award winning track “Su’amalie/I ain’t mad at you” directed & shot by Chris Graham – the clip always cracks me up because it’s so……. SAMOA lol!  Love the end where the kids are pushing their little wheelie things? at the  3:52 mark because we used to have slightly modified versions of those growing up in the islands that we’d race down the beach for hours on end.  PS3?  what?  Brooooo!  Go outside and play with some sticks maaaan!  lol!

And my personal fave of Kas’ “Sometimes when it rains” featuring Adeaze 

Just remembered another fave from the Siones Wedding soundtrack featuring Lapi Mariner, Flowz & the bro Mareko “I do Believe”

ENJOY!

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