top of page

South Auckland Saint - deadforest

Acclaimed Kiwi MC deadforest is currently making waves with his signature blend of drill rap and electronic music, accompanied with his honest and picture-painting lyricism. Finding his sound was a liberating moment, says deadforest, “To be able to be set apart like that from how I say my words, it’s a blessing for sure” he tells me, proudly reppin’ South Auckland.

deadforest features in the latest issue of Tenner Magazine, the

'Voices of the Next Generation' issue.

The South-Auckland MC jumped into the music scene as he finished high school. He got heavily into electronic music, and would always be going to shows around the city. Growing up, his older brother was into hip-hop and rap music - huge Tupac fan apparently. But deadforest didn’t quite connect with it, it wasn't him. He didn't appreciate it until he turned eighteen, realising it began to resonate more and more with his lifestyle and his upbringing. He tells me that Rhythm and Vines was a definite turning point for him as an artist. During his early underground days, he went by the name of JINZO, and had been booked to play a small set in the afternoon, inviting a few of his friends to come along. He laughs, telling me it went horribly wrong, a bad experience for all of them he says, individually and as a group. It was after this moment he decided to switch from his previous name, to deadforest. “The process from then to now, I’d say there was just a lot of learning, a lot of trying to find my own identity outside of the music, and trying to translate it into the music.” he continues, “There have been a lot of trials and tribulations to get to this point and sound. A lot of trying to find myself.”

As he was making his way through the music scene, he met his partner-in-crime Dera Meelan, a production extraordinaire in the making. Since then, the duo have collaborated and combined forces to send shockwaves through the New Zealand music scene. The pair would find a breakthrough with their 2019 ‘Firesale’ EP, with the smash hit ‘Firesale’ that quickly became an anthem for New Zealand summers. His next shining moment was the release of his debut album, ‘PLASTIC’ a ten-track project showcasing the pair effortlessly pushing the boundaries of hip-hop, clashing deadforest’s gritty rap flows with Dera’s gut-punching production. A blend of influences ranging from drill rap, to techno and DNB, ‘PLASTIC’ is a masterful combination of sounds, ranging in influence and drenched in confrontational lyricism. deadforest dissects his upbringing, reinforcing his pride for Manurewa, and touches on stories from his journey to finding his identity. All while gliding through the electrifying production from his homie, Dera. deadforest doesn't forget his roots, keeping South Auckland close to his heart when choosing who’s stories to tell on his album, he recruited Church & AP’s Church, as well as Adam Tukiri and Kerge, further creating a vivid images of the realities of his upbringing and where he has come from - reminding us that he is one of New Zealand’s most refreshing artists right now, truly providing a leader for the next generation of young artists to follow.

"I never thought that I’d get to this point. So to be here and to watch it all unfold is super mean, its awesome. It keeps me motivated to keep pushing, especially for the next generation."

For himself growing up in South Auckland, there weren't really any role models that resonated with him, or any people to look up to. The music has helped him build a platform for those that feel lost like he once did, shining a spotlight on his community. He admits to me that for so long, he never thought he could reach this point, watching his music resonate with his community right in front of him. With his momentum, he’s hoping that kids like him can find a role model in him, and view music as something that is reachable. “To be here and to watch it all unfold is super mean, it’s awesome. It keeps me motivated to keep pushing, especially for the next generation.” he tells me. His push forward won’t be stopping any time soon either. After Auckland was abruptly sent back into lockdown for 107 days in August of 2021, deadforest just wants to keep moving, “everything stops, everything becomes stagnant and it’s really important to not fall victim to that. Especially now bro, it’s a constant struggle to not be stagnant I think.” he says. We are excited for the future of deadforest, we don’t know what will come, but what we do know is he will be proudly reppin’ South Auckland all the way - a true force at the forefront.

deadforest features in the latest issue of Tenner Magazine, the

'Voices of the Next Generation' issue.

Photography by Oli Spencer

Words by Oli Spencer

Listen to deadforest's debut album, 'Plastic' produced by Dera Meelan below:


bottom of page