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Campbell Live

Savage goes back to school

Monday 16 Feb 2009 12:00a.m.

Savage goes back to school

The past year has been a good one for kiwi hip-hop. Record label Dawn Raid has lived to see another day and leading the charge has been Savage, with the highest selling New Zealand single in US history.

Savage's new album "Savage Island" is being released this week, so life is good. However it was not always that way and he thanks his old school Wesley College for keeping him on the straight and narrow.

Savage returned to his old school today and the new guard at Wesley College were pretty stoked to have a famous old boy pay them a visit.

But he could not have been too much of a bad boy, even his old teachers were pleased to see him.

Savage had his sixth form year there as a fulltime boarder and he believes the college changed his life.

As a 17-year-old, Savage was living on streets and part of the South Auckland street gang culture. His family gave him an ultimatum - go to Wesley, or they would cut their ties.

"It was the darkest point in my life, most vulnerable I have ever been," Savage says. "I had to not show my fear to anybody."

Savage showed signs of his career to come early on. He rapped for the singing competition that year - although did not win.

Savage has since sold 1.5 million copies of his hit record "Swing" in the US, so losing his school singing competition probably does not bother him a great deal.

Swing is the highest selling New Zealand single in US history and it changed everything for not only Savage, but for his record label Dawn Raid.

The label went under before new investors breathed some life back into kiwi hip-hop.

"The success in America with savage absolutely confirmed we know how to make hits," Dawn Raid's Andy Murhane says. "If anyone saved us it was John Barnett and Michael Stiasni. They enabled us to stay alive and believed in us. Their funding helped us out with Savage project as well."

That project saw Savage re-locating to the US to press the flesh, maximising the Swing success.

In America, Savage released his new single 'Wild Out' and shot the music video on the beach in Los Angeles with kiwi director Chris Graham.

A far cry from his troubled youth, Savage says he is now doing the best he can to make his people proud.

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