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Tiki Taane: face for freedom of speech?

15:00 Fri May 6 2011
Tiki Taane

Tiki Taane is more than happy to play the unofficial poster boy for freedom of speech — he may even donate proceeds from his next single to the New Zealand police.

The chart-topping Kiwi singer has become something of a cult hero since he was arrested on stage at one of his own shows in Tauranga on April 9.

He's accused of inciting violence after allegedly encouraging fans to sing the chorus from the NWA song F*** Tha Police, at visiting officers. An hour later he was led away in handcuffs and spent the night in jail.

Taane protests his innocence but is determined to use the media attention for all it's worth as he prepares for a tour of the east coast with his latest album, In The World Of Light.

The controversy has already led to a surge in gig bookings and an extra 5000 friends on Facebook with fans eager to jump to the former Salmonella Dub frontman's defence.

"I'm going to milk it as much as I can because as far as I'm concerned I've done nothing wrong and I'm innocent," Taane tells AAP.

"I sang a lyric from a song and I've been arrested for it because that lyric offended one police officer.

"He could've walked off and done his job by finding some real criminals rather than coming back for me with a paddy wagon."

When Taane faces court on May 30 he will argue his right to sing explicit lyrics at any private gig where the audience is over 18.

He never intended to become a champion for freedom of expression but says the issue needs to be resolved.

"There's definitely a time and place for it," he admits.

"I've been doing this for 20 years and played all sorts of shows and there's no way I'm going to sing a lyric like that at an all ages gig or a family festival but when it's over 18s I should not get arrested.

"Half the comedians in this country get up and slag the Queen and our prime minister but they don't get handcuffed and thrown in jail."

Since being charged, Taane has produced a line of t-shirts that read "love the police" and he's attempting to put a positive spin on the incident.

It also inspired him to write a new song, Song For Freedom, which features Michael Franti and will be released later this month.

Taane's upcoming gigs will show both sides of the artistic spectrum, starting with acoustic songs such as his chart topping hit Always On My Mind before morphing into heavier dubstep with his DJ partner Optimus Grime.

The singer hopes his music will soon return to centrestage once the controversy dies down. He also wants to repair any ill feeling with the police in his home country.

"I want to be able to love the police and for them to be my friends," he says.

"I'm not mad at them. In fact I should probably give some royalties."


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