3 The Hard Way

aka The BB3

3 The Hard Way were the first group to put West Auckland on the map of local hip-hop.

They came up in the dance party scene but gradually moved more solidly toward hip-hop. Their hit song, ‘Hip Hop Holiday’, blew up on both sides of the Tasman, but the borrowed hook wasn’t cleared so the income was lost and the group sat out their contract rather than continue with their recalcitrant record label. They returned a decade later, just as local hip-hop was finally getting its due and had a second taste of success with the hit song, ‘It’s On’, before disbanding for good.

DJ Damage, Boy C and Mike Mixx, 1993
DJ Damage and Boy C from 3 the Hard Way with Peter McLennan of Hallelujah Picassos at The Big Day Out, Auckland, 1995.
Photo credit: Photo by Murray Cammick
Many Rivers featuring Sulata and Cherie Mathieson
The 1994 Hip Hop Holiday single - the first NZ hip-hop single to go to No. 1 and a trans-Tasman smash
3 The Hard Way around the time they recorded Hip Hop Holiday
3 The Hard Way opening for Cypress Hill in 1994
Photo credit: Photo by Murray Cammick
Hip Hop Holiday
Chris Ma'ia'i and Mike Paton, 2003
Photo credit: Photo by Brigid Grigg-Eyley
All Around (1994)
Chris Ma'ia'i and Mike Paton with Clem Karauti, who sang guest vocals on the 2003 comeback No.1, It's On
Photo credit: Photo by Mat Baker
Chris Ma'ia'i (Boy C) at the 95bFM Private Function, 1994
Photo credit: Photo by Murray Cammick
3 The Hard Way, 1993
A strong lineup for a 95bFM gig at the City Markets, Auckland, 12 November 1994 
3 The Hard Way in Alan Jansson's Uptown Studio, early 2003
Photo credit: Photo by Mat Baker. Simon Grigg Collection
Interview with 3 The Hard Way, 17 November 1994
RNZ: NZ Hip Hop Stand Up S2 Ep1 - 3 the Hard Way - Hip Hop Holiday
Many Rivers, from 1994. It was a No.10 hit and featured Sulata
Nothing's Changed
Lance "DJ Damage" Manuel, Chris "Boy C" Ma'ia'i, Mike "Mike Mixx" Paton, 1993
The 1995 What I Gotta Do single, with remixes by Zane Lowe
It's On (Move To This)
Interview on Frenzy
3 The Hard Way, early 2003
Chris Ma'ia'i and Mike Paton, 2003
Photo credit: Photo by Brigid Grigg-Eyley

3 The Hard Way were the first New Zealand act to take away the No.1 spot on the singles chart from another local artist twice – ‘Hip Hop Holiday’ knocked ‘The Heater’ by the Muttonbirds off the top slot and ‘It’s On’ pushed off Scribe’s track ‘Not Many’.

Three The Hard Way is a 1974 film by Gordon Parks Jr, starring black action stars Jim Kelly, Jim Brown and Fred Williamson as a trio fighting white supremacists.

The Urban Dictionary defines the phrase "3 The Hard Way" as something impossible to achieve - in a craps (dice) game, 6 the hard way is when you roll a pair of threes, therefore 3 the hard way is an impossibility.


Chris Ma'ia'i - vocals

Mike Paton - turntables

Lance Manuel - turntables

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